Breast surgery can include a wide variety of procedures designed to reshape or resize a woman’s breasts. While plastic surgery for the breasts is typically an aesthetic concern, there are also situations in which it is medically necessary. This may include rebuilding the breasts after breast cancer removal or a breast reduction procedure to alleviate back pain.
When it comes to lifting, augmenting or reducing the breasts, however, many women want to know whether or not they can safely breastfeed after the procedure. Does a woman need to wait until after her childbearing years to get the breasts she desires? Not at all. The CDC states that “most mothers who have had breast or nipple surgery are able to produce some milk, but not all of these mothers will be able to produce a full milk supply for their infants. Having a full milk supply is not necessary for a successful breastfeeding experience because it is possible to supplement in a way that supports breastfeeding.”
Lowering Your Risk for Breastfeeding Limitations
While the effects of pregnancy and breastfeeding are commonly reasons why women seek breast surgery, there are also many patients who are either not done having children or want to improve the size or shape of their breasts before pregnancy. In general, having breast surgery typically allows these women the opportunity to have youthful, symmetrical and confident breasts while still being able to breastfeed their child if they desire.
Breast surgery can involve a risk of impacting lactation, but there are certain things you can do to reduce that chance, including the following:
Choose a Skilled Breast Surgeon. An experienced and skilled plastic surgeon will understand the techniques that should be used to avoid the nerves and ducts within the breasts that are used for lactation.
Have Implants Placed Below the Muscle. There are two different ways to place breast implants. Having implants placed under the muscle typically carries a lower risk of disturbing the structures of lactation.
Leave Areolae and Nipple Intact. Some types of incisions and surgical techniques involve detaching the areolae and nipple. However, this can lead to milk supply reductions and/or breastfeeding complications. If you plan to breastfeed, an alternate incision location can be chosen.
Evaluate your Breasts Before Surgery. It is important to consider the condition of your breasts before surgery. If you had flat or tubular shaped breasts before augmentation, you may have had low milk supply regardless of having surgery.
Things to Consider When Breastfeeding After Breast Surgery
Keep in mind that even if there were ducts severed or nerves damaged during your breast augmentation, the body can repair itself. Ducts can grow back together or form new pathways, and nerves may regain functionality. Since the major risk is producing low amounts of milk, there are things you can do to boost your milk production. First, it can be helpful to contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), who can teach mothers how to stimulate milk production and/or how to supplement with pasteurized donor human milk or formula. In addition, many women choose to take natural supplements (fenugreek or blessed thistle) to promote milk production. Prescription medication to boost your milk supply is also available.
Have more questions about the impact of breast surgery on breastfeeding? At Hillcrest Plastic Surgery, we understand the importance of feeling confident in your breasts. However, we also realize that breastfeeding is a sacred desire for many expectant mothers. We are happy to discuss your breast surgery and help you feel at ease about moving forward. Dr. Spence performs a full range of cosmetic procedures for the breast, including augmentation, reduction, implant revision, nipple reconstruction and more.