If you are one of the many women who have large, heavy breasts, then you’ve probably considered having a breast reduction. No more back pain, no more frumpy posture, and no more excess weight.
But what if you want to start a family later in life? Can you still breastfeed after breast reduction surgery?
The answer is YES. Many women can successfully breastfeed after reducing their breasts. Advanced plastic surgery techniques are designed to lessen the impact of breast reduction for better chances of breastfeeding whilst achieving the breast goals that patients want.
Dr Craig Rubinstein is one of the best breast plastic surgeons in Melbourne, Australia. As an expert in the field, he has developed unique breast surgical techniques to preserve breastfeeding after reduction mammaplasty.
Keep reading to learn how he can offer you a greater chance of breastfeeding after your breast reduction.
How Does Breastfeeding Work?
Breastfeeding is the act of feeding your baby the milk that you naturally produce. Breastfeeding can’t happen without lactation. Lactation is the process of milk secretion from your mammary glands – glands in your breasts that produce milk.
To better understand breastfeeding, let’s look at the parts of your breast that are involved in lactation:
- Fatty Tissues
- Glandular Tissues or Secretory lobule (produces the milk)
- Lactiferous ducts (carry the milk to the nipple)
- Areola, the darker skin around the nipple
When your baby latches and sucks on your nipple, the nerves in the nipple-areola complex signal your brain to start milk production and flow. Two primary hormones involved in lactation increase: Prolactin and Oxytocin.
- Prolactin: stimulates the production of milk in the glandular tissues of your breast.
- Oxytocin: causes the milk to eject into the ducts, which carry them to the nipples. Your nipple then releases the milk for your baby to feed.
If you’re concerned that reducing the size of your breasts will also reduce the amount of milk you make, don’t worry. Milk production depends on the amount of glandular tissue, which is roughly the same in bigger and smaller breasts. So as long as these milk-producing tissues are intact, you can still make enough milk for your baby.
This is what Dr Craig aims to achieve for future mums undergoing breast reduction; preserving milk glands and lactiferous tubes.
Can You Breastfeed After A Breast Reduction?
Most women can breastfeed successfully after a reduction mammoplasty. However, a breast reduction is likely to cause breast milk supply problems to some extent. There is no way of knowing if you will be able to breastfeed until after your surgery and recovery.
After a breast reduction, you may find yourself in one of three groups:
- Can breastfeed exclusively
- Can breastfeed partially (require a supplement to increase milk supply)
- Need assistance with breastfeeding or can’t breastfeed.
The type of surgery performed will determine whether you can breastfeed without assistance or if you’ll need supplements to promote breast milk production.
With that in mind, it is possible to breastfeed after breast reduction. This might not have been the case a few years back. But today, advanced techniques have made it possible to have a completely healthy breastfeeding experience even after reducing your breasts.
How Does Breast Reduction Affect Breastfeeding?
Generally, breast surgery changes or reconstructs your breast and its tissues. Any type of breast surgery is likely to alter the parts of your breast responsible for milk production to an extent.
Below are several factors that determine whether breast reduction surgery will affect breastfeeding.
1. Breast Reduction Technique
Different breast surgeries target different areas of your breast. In a reduction mammoplasty (breast reduction), Dr Rubinstein will need to remove excess skin, tissue, and fat to make your breasts both smaller and tighter.
Depending on the technique that he performs, it is entirely possible to disrupt the components involved in lactation (milk glands and ducts). But that does not mean that breast reduction surgery eliminates your chances of breastfeeding. Dr Rubinstein is experienced in several breast reduction techniques that can preserve the milk-producing mechanism of your breast.
2. Remaining Milk-Producing Tissue
Whether lactation will be affected after the surgery depends mainly on the amount of functional glandular tissue kept intact. The surrounding fatty tissues protect your glandular or milk-producing tissues. Most of the time, a bigger breast only means more fatty tissues protecting your glandular tissues from damage or injury.
As one of the top plastic surgeons in Australia, Dr Rubinstein is experienced in removing fatty tissues without impairing the milk glands. He wants his patients to be problem-free when it comes to nurturing little ones in the future.
3. Time Since Your Surgery
Time plays a significant role in shaping your breastfeeding experience after surgery. In the early days and months after breast reduction, it might be harder to breastfeed.
Regardless of the type of surgery performed, your milk supply usually improves over the course of several years after surgery. In some, it might even take up to 5 years. However, it is still possible to breastfeed your newborn shortly after surgery, provided that your milk ducts and nerves are not affected.
As time passes, your breastfeeding experience will considerably improve as impaired nerve supplies reconnect through reinnervation. Similarly, any detached ducts may form new connections with your nipple through a process called recannualization, significantly improving the milk flow.
When the sensitivity of your nipples improves with time, your baby can latch and easily start lactation.
Surgical Techniques for Breast Reduction
Breast reduction is one of the surgical procedures that affect breastfeeding the most. Luckily, various surgical techniques ensure minimal damage to the milk-producing parts of your breast.
Dr Craig Rubinstein is renowned for his breast reduction surgery expertise. Below are some of the breast reduction procedures he performs, including those that can preserve your breastfeeding function;
- Fat Removal only (Breast Reduction Liposuction)
- This is the least damaging technique for breastfeeding.
- Liposuction only removes your fatty tissues.
- Depending on where the suction catheter is inserted, liposuction might damage some glandular tissue, but this can be avoided with strategic placement techniques.
- Anchor type or Inverted T type
- Also known as inferior pedicle technique.
- Dr Rubinstein removes sections of your breasts and repositions your nipple.
- This technique aims to keep as much glandular tissue as possible.
- Research reveals a breastfeeding success rate of 77% after using this technique.
- Superior Pedicle Technique
- Dr Rubinstein removes a substantial amount of glandular tissue while keeping the nipple-areola complex intact.
- Although the glandular tissues were affected, a clinical study shows a 71% success rate after this operation.
- Periareolar Surgery (not offered by Dr Craig)
- A surgeon removes excess breast tissue around the areola.
- Because of its proximity, it may cause considerable damage to your milk-producing tissue as well.
- Free Nipple Graft (not done by Dr Craig)
- After reshaping your breast, a surgeon removes and repositions the nipple.
- A free nipple graft can lead to severed milk ducts and nerve supply, effectively diminishing your nipple sensitivity and affecting breastfeeding.
If you are considering a reduction mammoplasty but are worried about your chances of breastfeeding, discuss your priorities with Dr Rubinstein. This way, you can decide the best breast reduction surgery for you.
Tips For Breastfeeding After Surgery
While breastfeeding is quite personal and different for everyone, it is mostly a positive experience, even after a breast reduction procedure.
Below are a few tips that can make your breastfeeding journey as smooth as possible
- Talk to a lactation consultant before giving birth and discuss your concerns regarding breastfeeding. They may prescribe medication to boost your supply of milk.
- While it may be possible to breastfeed on your own, it’s always a good idea to be prepared with some formula to make sure your baby is receiving the essential nutrition they need.
- Feed frequently, even if the breast milk hasn’t come out yet. Your breasts usually work depending on demand and supply. Start within the first hour of giving birth. The more your baby latches and sucks, the more your breasts will work to produce milk.
- Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally challenging, especially after reduction surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your well-being is important to ensure that your baby is happy and healthy.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no need to feel guilty if your breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned. You play an important role in your child’s life and they still need you in countless ways.
- Choose an experienced breast surgeon. Your surgeon should be someone you trust to listen to your concerns and perform the procedure safely. And in the hands of a skilled surgeon, your chances of developing complications are low.
FAQs about Breast Reduction Affect Breastfeeding
What are the chances of being able to breastfeed after breast reduction?
- You have a very good chance of successful breastfeeding in future if your nipple-areola complex is kept intact during the surgery.
- If it is partially severed, your chances of breastfeeding reduces to less than 75%.
Can I breastfeed if I have a breast reduction?
- Yes. At your consultation, discuss your priorities with Dr Rubinstein. His expertise allows him to determine the best method that delivers the least damage to your breast tissue, so you can still breastfeed your child after your reduction surgery.
Will breastfeeding be painful after breast reduction?
- Breastfeeding can feel slightly uncomfortable and painful regardless of whether you have had a breast operation.
- Slight discomfort is common but goes away the more you breastfeed. Keep a cold pack or soothing pack on hand to relieve any pain you may feel.
Can my breasts grow back after a breast reduction?
- Yes, there are chances that your breast may grow back to its previous size even after the surgery.
How long after breast reduction can I have a baby?
- Breast reduction requires a healing period of at least 3 months so that your incisions can heal properly.
- Since pregnancy can change your body, especially the glands that produce milk, it’s better to wait a few months after your surgery.
Will getting pregnant ruin my breast reduction?
- If you are experiencing bigger breasts now that you’re pregnant., Larger breasts in pregnancy are because of increased estrogen and prolactin hormones.
- Your hormone levels decrease soon after you give birth and your breasts will gradually return to their pre-pregnancy size. However, depending on the quality of your skin and its ability to retract, you may need further surgery.
What are the benefits of breast reduction surgery?
- Breast reduction surgery offers benefits, such as firmer and rounder breasts, improved posture, a breast lift, helps with weight loss and exercise, less back or shoulder pain, and better mobility.
Should I have breast reduction surgery?
- You may be an excellent candidate for breast reduction surgery if you want to: reduce your breast size, fix your posture issues, stop your discomfort, or prevent shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Medical Sources – Does Breast Reduction affect Breast Feeding
- The impact of breast reduction surgery on breastfeeding: Systematic review of observational studies
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- WIC Breastfeeding Support
- Breastfeeding after reduction mammaplasty: a comparison of 3 techniques
- Today’s Parent- Can you breastfeed after a breast reduction surgery?
- Better Health Channel
About Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS is one of Melbourne’s Best Specialist Plastic Surgeons for breast and tummy surgery.
He has been rated as a Top 3 Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne and rated a Top 5 Plastic Surgeon on the ‘Best in Australia’ website.
Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised tummy surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.
He uses only the highest quality Motiva breast implants and is renowned for his natural-looking, long-lasting results.
BOOK A CONSULTATION TODAY 1300 264 811
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About Your First Consultation
- Dr Rubinstein’s Consultation fee is $300.
- A referral from your GP or your specialist is helpful but not essential.
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What to Bring to your Consultation
- You are more than welcome to bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
- Ensure you also take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents provided.
- Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.
*Disclaimer: Individual results can vary significantly from patient to patient. The information we provide is general. For further information on what to expect for your preferred procedures, arrange to see one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons for a full history and surgical consultation. Read further information about surgical outcome variability on our Disclaimer page.