Have you undergone breast reduction surgery? Are you contemplating the after effects of breastfeeding post surgery? One of the most common and biggest changes that you face after pregnancy is in your breasts. Pregnancy and breastfeeding result in sagging breasts. They are no more in shape and are often a few sizes bigger than what they were before you conceived!
If you have already undergone breast reduction surgery earlier or are planning for one, a few questions need to be answered. One of the most common and generic questions that a woman asks is ‘whether a breast reduction surgery will affect breast feeding!’ Read on to know more.
Is It Possible To Breastfeed After Breast Reduction Surgery?
The rationale of breast reduction is to reduce the volume of your breast. In almost all the techniques used, your capability of producing milk will drop. According to the support group and information provided by Breastfeeding After Breast and Nipple Surgeries (BFAR), it is certainly possible to breast feed post breast reduction surgery (1). The techniques used in breast reduction surgeries today are highly advanced. These help the surgeons to preserve the milk producing tissues; which means that even if you undergo breast reduction surgery, you will be able to produce adequate amount of milk for your baby.
[ Read: Breastfeeding After Breast Augmentation ]
Variables To Keep In Mind:
The outcome of a breast reduction surgery will always depend on how the surgery is performed (2). The best way to know your breast feeding capabilities is when you start feeding the baby after the surgery.
- In certain techniques, milk ducts are always cut during the surgery. This may lead to no production of milk.
- In other techniques, the surgeon may try and leave the blood supply and nerve pathways intact. This would help in the marginal production of milk.
- If excess amount of the glandular tissueis removed, your production of milk will be reduced drastically (3).
- In certain techniques, the nipples are completely removed and repositioned. This can completely severe the blood supply to the nipple andareola and result in nerve damage. This condition will not let you to breast feed (4).
- Techniques that do not completely severe the nipple and the areola even though they may be moved a little, allow you to breast feed.
[ Read: How To Know Breast Milk Is Enough For Baby ]
Types Of Breast Reduction Surgeries:
Here are the main types of breast reduction surgeries (5):
1. Superior And Inferior Pedicle Technique:
In this technique, the areola and the nipple are moved to a higher position. This is done while they are still attached to a mound of tissue. This is known as the pedicle; it contains the ducts and the nerves that help in blood supply. If the main part that remains attached is below the areola, it is known as an inferior pedicle technique. This allows for some milk production after surgery. If the main part that remains attached is above the areola, it is known as a superior pedicle technique. This considerably reduces your milk production capability.
2. Free Nipple Graft Technique:
In this technique, the nipple and areola are completely severed from the breast. While this technique is known to entirely reduce your milk producing capabilities, some women have produced a little amount of milk post a free nipple graft technique.
In most cases, there is considerable damage to your nerves, milk ducts and breast tissues during a breast reduction surgery. These are all important for your milk supply and any damage to these can cause considerable decline in your milk production. This damage can also reduce the sensation in your nerves. These nerves are very important for breast feeding. They trigger the release of prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that are essential for breast feeding.
[ Read: Blocked Milk Ducts While Breastfeeding ]
Since breast reduction surgery directly affects your milk production, it is extremely important you have a detailed discussion with your doctor. Also remember that the term lactation after breast reduction surgery may mean the capability to produce milk. But you need to understand and determine whether this amount will suffice for your baby. It is not the ‘if’ of lactation that you should be worried about but the ‘quantity.’
Hope this article has helped you know whether can you breastfeed after breast reduction surgery or not. If you have undergone a breast reduction surgery and are able to breast feed your baby, do share your experiences here.
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