August 11, 2021

Breastfeeding after Breast Surgery

Breastfeeding has numerous physical, emotional, and developmental benefits for both infants and new mothers. It can be a rewarding but challenging experience for many parents, including women who have had past breast surgeries. If you received implants, a breast reduction, a breast lift, or any other operation involving the breasts or nipples – you might have concerns about breastfeeding after these procedures.

Fortunately, people who have had breast surgery are generally able to breastfeed without issue. Regardless, talking to your doctor before your procedure is the best way to ensure that breastfeeding after breast surgery goes as smoothly as possible. There are resources available to support anyone who hopes to breastfeed after receiving surgical treatment.

Potential Impacts of Surgery on Breastfeeding

Whether or not breast surgery will impact the ability to breastfeed depends on the type, technique, and reason for treatment. If the breasts are significantly underdeveloped before augmentation, issues related to a lack of glandular tissue could create complications, regardless of the procedure type.

The primary factor affecting breastfeeding after breast surgery, is the extent of breast tissue incised and removed.  The location, length, and depth of the surgical incision can greatly influence future milk production.  In general, breast augmentation alone should not affect the ability to breast feed, as no tissue is removed.

Removal of tissue containing these milk nerves and ducts could also be a factor. For instance, breast reduction surgeries seem to be the procedures that impact milk production the most. However, breastfeeding is less likely to be affected if the nipple and areola remained connected to the breast tissue throughout the surgery.

Dr. Steele will answer any further questions that a prospective patient might have about their ability to breastfeed after a procedure.

Steps to Improve Outcomes

Over time, some of the milk ducts that might have been cut or damaged during surgery can regrow. Therefore, leaving more time between a breast procedure and pregnancy is one way to improve the chances of milk supply being unaffected. Most surgeons recommend waiting at least a year after an operation before becoming pregnant.

Plastic surgeons may be able to modify the procedure performed to minimize the risk of impaired breast feeding, but it is important to share your breastfeeding goals with your surgeon. Additionally, pregnant individuals who have had breast surgery in the past should always disclose these procedures to their physician.

It can also be helpful for parents to remember that there are multiple ways for them to be successful at breastfeeding. Even if an individual is not able to produce enough breast milk to offer a sole source of nutrition, supplements combined with special devices can create a nurturing breastfeeding experience for both mother and child. Nearly every postpartum woman can produce a small amount of colostrum, a highly nourishing initial form of breast milk. This means that patients generally have multiple options for breastfeeding after an operation, regardless of their circumstances.

Talk to Dr. Steele about Difficulties with Breastfeeding After a Breast Procedure

The best way to ensure that you can easily breastfeed after breast surgery is to discuss your plans and options with your surgeon before a procedure. There are also many resources available through organizations like La Leche League and for women who have had breast or nipple surgery and want to produce milk. Reach out today for more information.