Can I Breastfeed After Breast Surgery?
Many of our breast surgery patients are young women, hoping to have children and breastfeed them in the future. They look forward to motherhood, but for now, the time isn’t right. These women want to change their breasts now and hope to breastfeed when they eventually have children. They often ask, “Can I breastfeed after breast surgery?” This is an excellent question with a lot of variables, but for most women, the answer is yes. Breastfeeding after breast surgery is possible.
How the Breasts Make Milk
Before pregnancy, the breasts are comprised primarily of fat, glandular tissues, and supportive tissues. Throughout the breasts, a series of channels, known as milk ducts, connect the milk-producing sacs, called alveoli, to the nipple. The basic anatomy of the breasts is present in females from birth, develops extensively during the teen years, and changes during pregnancy as the breasts prepare for milk production.
Midway through pregnancy, the breasts start producing colostrum, a type of early breast milk. A few days after baby is born, milk production shifts and the breasts begin making larger quantities of mature breast milk. Hormonal signals from the body cause the alveoli to turn proteins, water, fat, and sugars into milk.
How Do Breast Surgeries Affect the Breasts?
The incisions created during breast surgeries have the potential to disrupt the complex duct and nerve pathways of the breast and nipple, limiting or in rare cases preventing future breastfeeding. The type of breast surgery you receive, and the techniques used by your surgeon can affect your chances of future breastfeeding problems. Severed milk ducts or nerves may grow back or may not.
Breast augmentation, with an incision placed below the breast in the breast fold, and implants placed below the muscle, is unlikely to affect breastfeeding. An implant placed over the pectoral muscle has a greater potential of affecting milk supply.
Incisions around the nipple, like the periareolar breast augmentation incision or breast lift and reduction incisions, can impact breastfeeding. Incisions that fully disconnect the nipple and areola are more likely to impact breastfeeding than those that leave the nipple attached.
As breast lift surgery and breast reduction are more invasive, they are more likely to impact breastfeeding than breast augmentation. Some women seek breast surgery due to congenital breast deformities, like underdeveloped breasts. These patients may be unable to breastfeed prior to surgery. For these patients, breastfeeding difficulties are a result of breast anatomy abnormalities, not breast surgery.
Lowered Milk Supply and Your Baby
Breast surgery can reduce milk supply for some women, but breastfeeding is still possible. An overwhelming percentage of moms with previous breast surgery can breastfeed successfully. Some will have reduced milk supply but can supplement with formula to ensure their baby’s nutritional needs are met.
If you’ve had a breast surgery in the past and plan to breastfeed:
- Monitor Baby’s Weight Closely- Since a reduced milk supply is possible after breast surgery, monitoring your baby’s weight is essential. Tell your healthcare provider about your previous breast surgeries so they can properly track your baby’s weight and recommend supplementation as needed.
- Seek Help- There are many resources available for breastfeeding help. Seek breastfeeding and lactation support if you need help. There are ways to increase milk supply and overcome many of the difficulties associated with breastfeeding after breast surgery. Find a board-certified lactation consultant in your community and get help and support.
- Supplement as Needed- Supplementation is not a sign of breastfeeding failure. Successful breastfeeding doesn’t require a full milk supply. Mom and baby receive the benefits of bonding and baby receives valuable nutrition any time breastfeeding occurs.
Can I breastfeed after breast surgery? Probably, but the only way to know how your surgeries will affect you is to try. If you’re concerned about breastfeeding after breast surgery, talk with Dr. Reid or Dr. Gordon during your consultation. Call Restora Austin Plastic Surgery Centre to schedule your breast surgery consultation in Austin, TX.