Breast reduction surgery, also known as a reduction mammoplasty, is a commonly performed surgery that is done to reduce the size of a woman’s breasts and help alleviate her discomfort. This surgery can offer women much needed relief from back pain, bra straps digging into their shoulders, and emotional stress. If they are planning a future pregnancy, and they desire to breastfeed, it’s important that they know that a breast reduction may have an impact on their milk ducts and may impede their ability to breastfeed.
Today we are going to talk about the concerns related to breastfeeding after undergoing a breast reduction. We will be looking at some of the challenges and factors that can affect a woman’s ability to produce milk and breastfeed a baby in the future.
What Is Involved In A Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction surgery involves removing excess breast tissue and reshaping the breasts to achieve a smaller size and better proportions. During the reduction surgery, incisions are made in the breasts according to the degree of reduction desired and the technique used. The surgeon removes excess breast tissue, fat, and skin, and the remaining tissue is reshaped into the desired size and contour. The nipple/areola area may have to be repositioned or resized so that it looks natural.
Next, the incisions are sutured closed carefully and the patient is allowed to return home to recover using detailed instructions from their surgeon. During the surgery, the milk ducts and glandular tissue may inadvertently be altered, which can affect the woman’s ability to produce milk or breastfeed in the future. The degree of this impact on the ability to breastfeed in the future can depend on factors such as the technique used during surgery and her unique anatomy.
How Can Reduction Surgery Affect Breastfeeding?
If you are like other women who are thinking about breast reduction surgery, you may be wondering if you can still breastfeed after your breast reduction. While there are no guarantees, many women have successfully been able to breastfeed their babies after having this surgery. It is important to know that this is a real risk, and after undergoing a reduction, your ability to breastfeed may be affected. Some of the reasons this surgery can impact the ability to produce milk and breastfeed include:
- The Skill Of The Surgeon And The Technique Used
- The surgeon’s level of expertise and the technique that is used during the breast reduction can impact the results of the surgery and a woman’s ability to breastfeed in the future. Preserving the milk ducts and maintaining the connections with the glandular tissues requires great skill and expertise. This makes it essential that the surgeon you choose is highly qualified in performing breast reductions that preserve both. This will increase your chances of having a favorable outcome and preserving your ability to breastfeed.
- Amount of Glandular Tissue Removed
- The amount of glandular tissue removed during the surgery can influence breastfeeding success. Since glandular tissue produces milk, the more significant the reduction in glandular tissue, the greater the potential challenge of producing an adequate milk supply.
The breast contains numerous milk-producing sacs called alveoli, which are organized into clusters known as lobules or lobes. These sacs are connected to the nipple through a network of fine tubes called ducts, which allow the milk to travel through them. The alveoli and ducts are surrounded by blood vessels, fatty tissue, nerves, the lymphatic system, and supporting connective tissue.
The base of the nipple is located within approximately 30 mm of 2/3 of the glandular tissue, which is the tissue responsible for producing milk. Future milk production can be affected if there is any damage to the milk-making tissue.
- Nerve Damage
- The nerves responsible for milk letdown and sensation in the breasts may be affected during breast reduction surgery. Damage to these nerves can hinder the breastfeeding experience by impacting the milk ejection reflex and reducing nipple sensitivity.
- Scarring and Adhesions
- Scar tissue formation and adhesions can occur after breast reduction surgery. These can potentially impact milk flow and the ability of the breasts to expand and produce milk during breastfeeding.
Additional Factors That Can Affect Breastfeeding After A Breast Reduction
While breastfeeding after a breast reduction may pose challenges, it is not impossible for all women. The following factors can influence the likelihood of successful breastfeeding:
- Discuss your desire to breastfeed with your surgeon before undergoing breast reduction surgery. This will allow you to understand the potential impact and make an informed decision;
- Milk ducts have the capacity to regenerate; therefore, the length of time between breast reduction surgery and attempting to breastfeed may affect the potential impact on lactation. The longer the interval, the greater the chances of milk ducts regenerating and restoring lactation capacity;
- Every woman’s anatomy and physiological response to breast reduction surgery are unique. Some women may retain the ability to breastfeed partially or fully, while others may face greater challenges;
- The repositioning of the nipple-areola complex during breast reduction surgery can potentially disrupt nerve connections and affect nipple sensitivity, which may impact breastfeeding. A skilled surgeon proficient in breast anatomy can often reposition the nipple without having to detach it. Studies have shown that women who have undergone breast reduction surgery during which their nipple was not detached have significantly higher rates of breastfeeding success;
- Access to professional lactation support and guidance can significantly improve the breastfeeding experience for women who have undergone breast reduction surgery. Lactation consultants can provide strategies to optimize milk supply, assist with latch techniques, and offer emotional support.
The Importance of Choosing A Qualified Surgeon
Choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon is of paramount importance when considering breast reduction surgery, particularly if preserving the ability to breastfeed in the future is a priority.
By seeking out a skilled professional with a deep understanding of breast anatomy, employing appropriate surgical techniques, and providing comprehensive support throughout your journey, you can increase the likelihood of maintaining breastfeeding potential and enjoying a positive breastfeeding experience when the time comes.
Where Can I Learn More About Breast Reduction Surgery?
If you are contemplating a breast reduction, contact SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics. Dr. Angelina Postoev, a triple board-certified cosmetic surgeon, and her highly skilled team would welcome the opportunity to answer your questions and address your concerns.
By understanding the factors that influence lactation success after surgery and taking proactive steps to maximize breastfeeding potential, many women can still breastfeed after a breast reduction. Contact Dr. Angelina and SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics today to set up a consultation to determine if breast reduction surgery is right for you.