Can You Breastfeed After Breast Surgery?

For women who have not yet had children or plan to have more children, a common question when it comes to breast surgery is if they will still be able to breastfeed afterward. Though there are many variables that can affect the answer to this question, Dr. Zochowski has found that most women are still able to breastfeed after surgery as long as they were able to prior to surgery. When he consults with patients for breast surgery, he makes sure to find out if breastfeeding is a consideration and then makes all efforts to preserve their ability to do so during surgery. Having your surgery performed by a professional, experienced plastic surgeon is the biggest factor when it comes to maintaining your ability to breastfeed. Here are some other factors that determine breastfeeding success.

Shape of Breasts Before Surgery

In a small percentage of women, breastfeeding is difficult or impossible even before they undergo breast surgery. If the breasts are small because they never fully matured, the ability to produce an adequate milk supply may be compromised. In addition, those with asymmetrical, tubular, or widely spaced breasts may also find it difficult to breastfeed. As no breast surgery can increase the natural amount of breast tissue, nerves, and ducts needed for breastfeeding, these conditions will likely remain after surgery. However, a breast surgery should not make these conditions any worse or further impede a woman’s ability to nurse.

Type of Surgery

Some types of breast surgery are more likely to affect the ability to breastfeed than others. If milk ducts or nerves in the breast are cut or damaged during surgery, the patient’s milk supply or ‘letdown’ reflex could be compromised. The type of surgery that is the most likely to damage these tissues is breast reduction surgery as it usually involves the removal and reattachment of the nipple and areola and removal of breast tissue. Breast lifts that involve replacing the nipple at a higher location may also have an effect while breast augmentations are the least likely to have an effect on future breastfeeding success.

Incision Used

For breast implants, Dr. Zochowski uses either a peri-areolar incision or an inframammary incision. The former is created around the nipple and areola while the latter is made under the breast. When breastfeeding is a consideration, the doctor almost always chooses the inframammary option. Not only is it less likely to damage milk ducts or other important tissues, but it also leaves a less obvious scar that is easier to hide. If for some reason a peri-areolar incision is the only one that will work for your surgery, Dr. Zochowki will explain why and make sure you understand all the risks involved before moving forward with surgery.

Placement of Implant

With breast augmentation surgery, there are two choices when it comes to placing the implant: subglandular and submuscular. Suglandular places the implant over the muscle while submuscular places it under the muscle. The submuscular placement is less likely to damage milk ducts and breast tissues and is usually the best option for those who plan to become mothers and breastfeed. This is also the best placement for support and can look the most natural though it does take a bit more recovery time than the subglandular procedure.

How to Increase Breastfeeding Success

If you’ve had breast surgery and want to breastfeed, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. The most important is to make sure you try to get as much milk out of your breasts as possible for the first few days after your baby’s birth. This will determine how much milk you produce later on. If for some reason your baby cannot latch on, express milk manually with a breast pump. You can also work with a lactation consultant who will be able to assist you in increasing your milk supply and ensuring you are providing your baby with the best possible nutrition.

Deciding to have breast surgery and deciding to breastfeed are both very personal decisions. When you have a consultation with Dr. Zochowski, he will answer any questions you might have about breastfeeding after surgery, recommend the best technique to use for your unique case, and help guide you to the decision that is best for you. If you’re ready to achieve the breasts you’ve always dreamed of, schedule your consultation with Dr. Zochowski today.