Whether it is possible to breastfeed after breast surgery is one of the top questions we are asked by women considering breast surgery. It’s a common misconception that is impossible to breastfeed once you’ve had implants placed. In this post, we will discuss the different factors associated with having breast surgery that affect breastfeeding.
It Depends on the Surgery
The type of breast surgery that you have is a big factor in whether or not your ability to breastfeed will be affected. This mainly involves the type of incision your surgeon uses either to reduce, lift, or enhance your breasts.
There are 3 Main Breast Implant Incision Types:
Periareolar: Around the nipple
Axillary: Through the armpit (typically used for saline implants only)
Infra-mammary: Through the crease underneath the breast
For a breast augmentation only, your surgeon can use an incision that avoids cutting through any breast duct tissue. Keeping the milk producing ducts in tact increases the likelihood of producing milk normally.
If you have already had children, breastfed in the past, have experienced breast sagging or your breasts are so large that they cause impairment or pain, you may need a breast lift or reduction. The two surgeries are very similar in technique, the main difference being the amount of tissue removed at time of surgery.
However, both surgeries do remove some breast tissue and can involve incisions around the nipple area, which can make it more difficult to breastfeed after surgery.
Your Milk Supply Can Also Be Affected
According to Nadine Rosenblum with the Johns Hopkins Hospital lactation program, surgeries that sever or alter milk ducts can affect your milk supply. “While breast surgery doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed, there is no guarantee that the mother will have a full supply of milk.”
Even if this is the case, it is still possible to breastfeed and produce milk. There are lots of resources available for women who have trouble with milk production including lactation consultants, supplements, and even lactation cookies.
Some Women Have Difficulty Breastfeeding Regardless
Not every woman can breastfeed regardless of whether she has implants or not. If you have breastfed a child in the past and are considering breast surgery, as long as your surgeon uses a technique that does not affect your milk production, you should continue to be able to breastfeed.
However, if you have never breastfed before, you will have to try breastfeeding to find out if you are able to. And if you have issues, it doesn’t mean that your implants caused it. Many women who have never had breast surgery have trouble breastfeeding and it can be caused by a myriad of things: natural breast shape, amount of breast tissue, the anatomy of your milk ducts, your diet… the list goes on.
Talk With Your Surgeon or Lactation Consultant
The good news is that having breast surgery doesn’t prevent you from being able to breastfeed. If this is something you want to be able to do, it can still be every bit as possible as it would be without implants. Be sure to talk with your doctor or meet with a lactation consultant to get your questions answered and to discuss your particular anatomy with respect to breastfeeding.