Many women wonder if it’s possible to breastfeed after having breast surgery. Whether the surgery is a breast augmentation with breast implants or breast reduction and reconstruction, it’s not uncommon for us to get asked whether the breasts will produce enough milk for the baby. Breastfeeding is possible after breast implants, other forms of breast augmentation, and breast reduction. However, it is very important that the desire to breastfeed after breast surgery is discussed before the procedure because special attention must be made to preserve as much of the breast tissue, nerve function and milk ducts as possible.
Several things can affect the milk supply in your breasts and how soon you can consider breastfeeding after having breast surgery. Most importantly, if your milk ducts and major nerves were not cut, your milk supply and ability to make milk in the future is likely to not be affected. Other things like where the incisions were made and the reasons for having breast surgery will be major factors, so be sure you choose an experienced, qualified, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who knows what he/she is doing. Your future breastfeeding options may depend on it.
Having incisions in the fold under the breasts or near the armpits are less likely to cause any problems producing milk. However, if the incisions are made around or across the darker area around the nipple (areola), milk ducts are more likely to have been cut and nerves possibly damaged thus interfering or eliminating the possibility of producing milk. A loss of sensation in one or both nipples may also mean there is nerve damage which could affect the let-down reflex and ultimately influence the supply of milk.
Breast reduction surgery is more likely to affect your ability to breastfeed compared to getting breast implants because sections of the breast are often removed during the reduction procedure including milk ducts. Major nerves are often cut and nipples removed and reattached. If the ducts and nerves regenerate (grow back) which occasionally happens, breastfeeding is again a possibility.
If only one breast is operated on, the woman should be able to successfully breastfeed with the other breast. If a woman can express colostrums (the first expressions of milk) during pregnancy, it is one indication that the breasts are functioning and are able to produce milk. However, breast milk may still be produced even if colostrums don’t occur during pregnancy.
If you have already had breast surgery and are not sure whether you’ll be able to nurse after giving birth, discuss your concerns with an experienced healthcare provider or lactation specialist. If you are considering breast surgery, contact our Hawaii office today so we can discuss your specific concerns and make sure we do all we can to ensure you have no hindrances to breastfeeding after your surgery.