Last updated on September 1st, 2023 at 10:02 pm
Thinking of having a breast reduction? Do you know what the effects could have on your ability to breastfeed? Discover the potential challenges and strategies for breastfeeding after a breast reduction surgery.
Many women undergo breast reduction surgery every year. Some for aesthetic reasons some for practical reasons, and some for medical reasons. While breast reduction may sound amazing, many women wonder how this might affect their plan to breastfeed.
Can you breastfeed after a breast reduction?
The short answer is maybe. Depending on the specific type of reduction surgery you’ve had and your doctor’s experience. If you opted to have reduction surgery in your pre-baby-making years and decided to choose your doctor by price alone, their experience may have been limited with making sure to preserve as many milk-making glands and ducts as possible. However, if you threw caution to the wind and are now concerned with your previous surgery, let’s put that concern aside for the moment and play this all by ear.
Breastfeeding is a delicate but natural function that relies on the intricate workings of nerves, ducts, glands, and hormones. For it to be successful, these components must be functioning in tandem to ensure that your babies will get enough to eat.
So, while breastfeeding after a breast reduction or any breast surgery may impact your milk supply, there is no telling how great the impact will be until it’s game time.
How does breast reduction surgery affect breastfeeding?
To avoid potential breastfeeding difficulties after a breast reduction, it is important to discuss your expectations and concerns with your surgeon before the operation. Honestly, these conversations should be had while searching for your doctor.
Your doctor should provide you with information about the risks associated with your procedure specifically in regards to breastfeeding. You also should consider asking your doctor if they could put you in contact with former patients who’ve undergone your particular surgery and who’ve successfully breastfed their children.
Communication is key with your breast surgeon. You should be able to comfortably express any worries you may have regarding breastfeeding post-surgery so that they can be addressed to your satisfaction. For example, some women may be concerned with the potential for reduced nipple sensation after their operation. This reduced sensation can lead to problems with milk production since you may not be able to feel if your baby is latched on correctly and getting the proper transfer of milk.
In addition to consulting with your surgeon pre-surgery, you should have a plan in place for breastfeeding post-surgery. A lactation consultant is going to be your key to creating a realistic and detailed plan of action surrounding your breastfeeding experience. With the help of a lactation professional, you will be able to come up with multiple strategies for achieving the breastfeeding experience you are looking for.
Will I have problems with my milk supply after breast reduction?
A breast reduction can compromise your milk supply. To put it simply, when you are removing breast tissue to decrease the size of your breasts, glands, ducts, and nerves will be damaged. How damaged is really the question that you’re trying to answer here.
Research does show that if your nipple is left intact during the procedure, you’ll have a better likelihood of successfully breastfeeding. But you should know that even the most experienced surgeons can’t take some issues into consideration, such as scar tissue. With any breast surgery, it’s more of a “wait and see” situation when talking about post-surgery healing.
Does breast augmentation have the same risks as breast reduction regarding breastfeeding?
A breast augmentation is when a woman enhances the size and shape of her breasts with implants and tissue, glands, and ducts are moved around, but not removed. A breast reduction removes breast tissue and skin to decrease the size of the breasts. You have a better likelihood of successfully breastfeeding post-augmentation than post-reduction since all your breastmilk-making equipment should still be intact.
Can you exclusively breastfeed after a breast reduction?
You should understand that breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing practice. Exclusively breastfeeding your twins after breast surgery may not be a realistic expectation but breastfeeding is still an option. Your milk supply may be impacted because of your surgery, however, you can’t be 100% sure that it will be until it’s actually time. It’s always essential to set realistic goals and those goals may have to include the use of baby formula or donor milk. You may want to speak to your insurance company about the cost coverage or cost-sharing if you opt to use donor milk.
There are some specific suggestions for mothers who have a breast reduction but still want to breastfeed. An article from Stanford Medicine suggests that the ultimate potential for exclusive breastfeeding can be increased by breastfeeding your newborn(s) 8-12 times per day as well as hand and pump expression for the first 3-5 days. The article also goes on to explain, that the first three days after giving birth can make all the difference in how much milk your breasts produce. Truly, this isn’t much different than a mom without a breast reduction, but it’s much more important to start building your supply ASAP.
It’s also recommended that you stay positive. There is no reason to assume the worst if you haven’t yet tried. It’s also important to make sure you know what the breastfeeding laws are in your state so you’re going into breastfeeding with your eyes wide open.
Will I have pain while breastfeeding if I have breast surgery?
Typically moms shouldn’t have any additional pain because of their surgery in regards to breastfeeding. However, as we’ve said earlier, it’s important to be aware if you have reduced sensation in your nipples since this could have a major impact on your supply.
Some women have found that despite their doctor’s best efforts, decreased sensation in their nipples is inevitable.
Considering a breast reduction and not sure if you’re done having kiddos?
If this sounds like you, please find a well-qualified surgeon, and don’t cut corners. You must have honest conversations with potential doctors you might be interviewing. As said above, you should ask to speak to former clients of theirs who had the surgery and breastfed after. Some surgeons might promise the world and tell you what you want to hear instead of warning you about the risks that come with breast reduction.
Underproduction is the obvious big issue when it comes to breast reduction surgery. You are literally removing parts of your breast, so it makes sense that underproduction might be present. There are some newer techniques that offer moms more choices.
Breastfeeding after breast surgery is possible. If you’ve already had breast surgery or are contemplating breast surgery, be sure to consult with your provider to discuss your breastfeeding options.
Setting breastfeeding goals after breast reduction surgery
Breast surgery, both implants, and reduction, impacts the glandular tissue that lies under your skin. With reduction surgery, your breast tissue is removed to make the breasts smaller. This can impact milk production and breastfeeding ability. Reduced nipple sensation can lead to problems with milk production. Many hormones governing breastfeeding require a certain level of stimulation to release from the body.
The good news is that most women can breastfeed after having a breast reduction. However, the success of the process will depend on several factors. How much glandular tissue was removed during the operation, the type and size of incisions used in the surgery, the experience of your surgeon, and any other complications that may have occurred during the procedure all play a role in your post-op breastfeeding experience.
To sum it up, It is possible to breastfeed after a breast reduction. However, it is important to be aware that your milk supply may be affected by the surgery. Your ability to breastfeed should be discussed with your doctor before undergoing the procedure. Also, make sure you have a plan in place with an experienced lactation consultant. This will help prepare you for success with breastfeeding after a breast reduction.
Molly Murphy is a mother to three children. A seven-year-old son and four-year-old identical twin girls. She is a high school Language Arts teacher who herds her students well. She often feels like she is the ball in a never-ending match of ping pong while trying to herd her own children. When she is not tending to children, her interests are jamming to her favorite rap tunes, traveling, cheering on the Huskers, and pulling weeds.