Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Breastfeeding After Keyhole Breast Reduction

When you’re looking into breast surgery, the last thing on your mind is breastfeeding. But it’s important to know that there are options for both moms and babies who have undergone keyhole reduction surgery.

Keyhole reductions are an excellent way to reduce the size of your breasts. They do not involve cutting through the skin and muscle; instead, they use small incisions around the nipple to remove excess tissue and skin. This means that you can still breastfeed your baby after a keyhole reduction, but your nipples may be more sensitive than before. It will take some time for them to adjust back to normal, so we recommend taking extra care during this period. In this post, we’ll answer questions like tips for breastfeeding after breast reduction and breastfeeding after breast reduction success stories.

Breastfeeding After Keyhole Breast Reduction

Breastfeeding after Breast or Nipple Surgery

New mothers who have had previous breast or nipple surgery can breastfeed their newborns and are strongly encouraged to do so. The supply of breast milk mainly is affected by a surgery’s cutting of milk ducts and nerves in the breast. Consider removing nipple jewelry in the second trimester of pregnancy, and leave the jewelry off during the period of time you nurse your baby.

Can a woman who has had breast or nipple surgery breastfeed her baby?

Yes. New mothers who have had previous breast or nipple surgery can breastfeed their newborns and are strongly encouraged to do so. All postpartum women can produce at least droplets of colostrum (first milk). Even if mothers get only some milk, they are providing their baby with antibodies at every feeding.

However, each woman is different. In some women, the milk supply might not be affected at all. These new moms can produce the full amount of milk. Other women may produce less breast milk. Before the baby is born, it is not possible to know how much milk can be produced. Caregivers should be aware of a woman’s surgical history so that they can help her keep track of a new mom’s milk supply.

According to La Leche League, a woman seems to have a better milk supply when her surgery occurred five or more years before she became pregnant. This is true regardless of the type of surgery performed.

What types of surgery can affect the production of breast milk?

The supply of breast milk mainly is affected by a surgery’s cutting of milk ducts and nerves in the breast. Breast reduction surgery tends to have the greatest potential effect on milk supply. Breast augmentation surgery (increasing the size of the breast), lift, nipple, and diagnostic surgeries also can cause a woman to produce less milk. Milk supply is less affected if the nipple and areola remain attached to the breast during surgery. The location and the length and depth of the surgery’s incision can be a factor in how much milk production will be affected.

What can a new mother who has had breast or nipple surgery do to increase production of breast milk?

The key to increasing breast milk production is getting as much milk as possible out of the breast in the first two weeks. There is no pump as effective as a well latched, vigorous baby. Breasts will have more milk production if more milk is removed. In the first two to three weeks, the body determines how much breast milk is needed.

The most effective way to remove milk, other than breastfeeding, in the first three days is for the mom to do manual expression. Once milk is established, then milk can be removed by manual expression and pumping. Mothers should express or pump following each feeding, or instead of a feeding, if baby will not latch after each feeding for the first 10 days after delivery.

Breast emptying is an important factor in increasing milk supply, but the baby at the breast is most effective. Other methods include breast compression, relaxation techniques, and using herbal and prescription medicines that increase milk production (galactagogues).

How can a nursing mother supplement breastfeeding?

You can feed your baby expressed milk or formula, if needed. Supplemental nursing systems use tube feeding to help supplement milk from the breast. The system is made up of a container that has supplemental liquid. A tube runs from the container to the nipple of the breast, allowing the baby to suck on the nipple and the tube at the same time. Ask your Lactation Consultant for help with this.

How does a mother measure her success at breastfeeding?

There are many benefits to breastfeeding beyond breast milk production. Successful breastfeeding does not always mean producing a full supply of milk. Some mothers find it possible to have breast milk be the baby’s only nutrition. Others, however, may need the baby’s entire nutrition to come from supplements.

Nurturing your baby at the breast can be fulfilling, even with the use of a supplemental feeding device. New mothers know that every drop of breast milk counts. Mothers value the time that the baby is skin-on-skin with them. This time is important even if the baby is not getting nutrition from sucking.

Can a woman who has had nipple piercing breastfeed her baby?

Consider removing nipple jewelry in the second trimester of pregnancy, and leave the jewelry off during the period of time you nurse your baby. If you choose to wear nipple jewelry, it must be removed prior to breastfeeding due to a risk of infant choking. A recent piercing may not be healed completely. Mom should be alert to signs of infection as well as scarring that can cause plugged nipple pores while breastfeeding. When an infant nurses, milk may come from the pierced sites.

Can You Breastfeed After a Breast Reduction and Lift

Breastfeeding after breast surgery

When pregnant, many women who have had breast surgery (eg breast reduction or breast augmentation) are concerned about how it may affect breastfeeding.

For many of these women, one of the best first steps to take is to contact a breastfeeding counsellor or a lactation consultant well before the birth. Attending a Breastfeeding Education Class while pregnant can be helpful too. This can help to dispel some fears and also help to make a breastfeeding plan.

Most mothers who have had breast surgery can breastfeed, at least to some extent. Some mothers find that they:

  • Can breastfeed fully (ie without the need to supplement).
  • A galactagogue might help (depending on the reason for a low supply)
  • Can partially breastfeed (ie with the need to supplement somewhat).

Generally, there is no clear way of knowing before the birth which of the above groups a mother who has had breast surgery will fit in to. How the surgery was done can impact upon how it may affect breastfeeding. For example, breast reduction surgery is more likely to cause milk supply problems as compared to breast augmentation surgery. This is particularly the case if the nipple was moved to a new position during the surgery as this disrupts the nerve supply to the nipple and areola. It also depends on to what degree the surgery disrupted the milk glands and milk ducts. However, nerves can regrow, although slowly, and glandular tissue can develop during pregnancy.

Women who have had breast augmentation may also have problems with milk supply. This may happen if the surgery was needed due to lack of breast tissue, as well as risks of cutting nerves and ducts.

Breastfeeding should be discussed with a breast surgeon fully before any breast surgery. In this way surgeons can adjust their surgical technique to help maintain a woman’s ability to breastfeed.

Women who have had a mastectomy, or a partial mastectomy and radiotherapy for breast cancer, are able to breastfeed from the other breast. Some mothers who have had radiotherapy after a partial mastectomy may be able to partially breastfeed on the affected side as well.

Ongoing contact with a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant after the birth can help to ensure that breastfeeding is going well.

Can Nipple Reduction Surgery Affect Breast Feeding?

If you have had, or are planning to have nipple reduction or reconstruction surgery, you may be concerned about your ability to successfully breastfeed. It’s a common concern, and to help provide you with clarity, Dr. Ortiz, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Raleigh, is sharing how nipple reduction can affect breastfeeding and what you can expect.

Understanding Nipple Reduction Surgery

Nipple reduction surgery minimizes how far the nipple protrudes and can also decrease the circumference. Many women choose areola reduction to minimize the appearance of the darkened area around the nipple, and these procedures are usually performed during a breast augmentation, reduction, or lift.

During the procedure, Dr. Ortiz either performs a wedge technique or flap technique in order to reduce the overall volume of the nipple, anywhere from one third to half the original size. Using the wedge technique, he removes a wedge-shaped piece from the nipple and connects the sides to reduce the existing projection. Using the flap technique, an incision is made at the base of the nipple at the preferred projection, then excess tissue is removed and the skin is turned down to create a smaller nipple.

Can You Still Breastfeed After Nipple Reduction?

The main concern with breastfeeding after nipple reduction, or any kind of breast procedure, is whether the milk ducts and nerves in the breast are severed. However, this is not common, and a board-certified plastic surgeon takes care to preserve the milk ducts. This ensures the best chance to successfully breastfeed after the procedure.

Many women may not have their milk supply affected at all and can produce a full amount, while other women may produce less, but are still able to supplement. Nipple reduction surgery shouldn’t affect the ability to produce colostrum, the first milk your body produces after giving birth which provides your baby with vital antibodies and nourishment.

Improving Your Ability to Breastfeed After Nipple Reduction

If you are concerned about breastfeeding after having nipple reduction, these tips can improve your likelihood of success:

  • Wait three years or longer after having the procedure to get pregnant. This gives more healing time and allows milk ducts to grow back if they were damaged.
  • Before delivery, tell your healthcare provider about your medical history and find resources for breast feeding assistance. La Leche League can help you meet with a lactation consultant in the area.
  • After delivery, skin-to-skin contact, frequent nursing, and manual expression can increase your supply.
  • Continue working with a lactation consultant if you are concerned with latch or supply issues.

It’s important to mention that most women are able to successfully breastfeed after breast and nipple reduction procedures. Often, challenges with breastfeeding stem from improper technique or latch issues along with a lack of support. By opening up communication with your healthcare provider and working with a lactation consultant if you do experience challenges, you can have a more positive experience.

Tips For Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

Can breast-feeding be affected by any surgical procedures?
When milk ducts and nerves in the breast are severed during surgery, it significantly reduces milk production. The likelihood of a drop in milk production is highest after breast-reduction surgery. Surgery to increase the size of the breast, to lift or nip the breast, or for diagnostic purposes can all reduce a woman’s milk supply. If the nipple and areola can be kept attached to the breast during surgery, it has less of an impact on milk production. To what extent milk production drops after surgery depends on factors like its location, the length, and the depth of the incision.

When a mother has breast or nipple surgery, what can she do to encourage more milk production?
In order to maximize milk production, it’s crucial to express as much milk as possible in the first two weeks. There is no substitute for a strong, well-latched baby. It is true that expressing milk from the breasts will stimulate milk production. Two to three weeks are crucial for the body to figure out how much breast milk to produce.

Mothers who choose not to breastfeed have three days to master manual expression, the most efficient method for removing milk. Once milk production has been established, it can be removed through manual expression or pumping. If the infant is not latching properly at each feeding for the first 10 days after birth, the mother should express or pump the breast milk instead of feeding the infant.

The baby at the breast is the most effective way to increase milk supply, but breast emptying is still important. Methods such as breast compression, relaxation techniques, and the use of herbal and pharmaceutical aids to stimulate milk production are additional options (galactagogues).

How can a mother who is breastfeeding get additional nutrition?
In the event that you are unable to breastfeed your baby, you can give them formula or expressed milk. Tube feeding is used as part of supplemental nursing systems to supplement breast milk. The component of the system containing the supplementary liquid is a container. Since there is a tube connecting the bottle to the nipple, the infant can simultaneously suckle from both the nipple and the bottle. For assistance, consult a Lactation Consultant.

Is a mother’s ability to breastfeed successful?
The primary benefit of breastfeeding is the production of breast milk, but there are many other advantages as well. The production of an adequate amount of milk is not necessary for successful breastfeeding. Breast milk can provide adequate nutrition for some babies. The only source of food for some babies may be supplemental formula.

Breastfeeding your baby, even with the help of a bottle or other feeding aid, can be a rewarding experience. It is common knowledge among new mothers that every bit of breast milk helps. Moms treasure the closeness they feel with their babies when they hold them skin to skin. Even if the infant isn’t gaining weight from sucking, this time is crucial for development.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Success Stories

“Breastfeeding won’t be an option for you.” It was posed as a question, as if the midwife were trying to figure out why I thought I could, but the one who was supposed to be helping me avoid “unnecessary effort” at my first antenatal appointment sounded quite confident in her ability to do so. Sometimes this kind of reaction occurs unconsciously when a doctor sees a patient who has had breast surgery. It’s a huge hassle, and I know other people who’ve had a breast reduction but didn’t try it because they were warned not to. Perhaps she heard this advice a long time ago and has never considered an alternative. You can tell I’m still bitter that the midwife didn’t provide the care I needed or go out of her way to assist me during my pregnancy and delivery. I wonder how many people have never tried breastfeeding because they were told they couldn’t, and how many people have never tried breastfeeding because they were told they couldn’t, because I never got an apology when I showed up a week later with some printouts about breastfeeding after reduction, and she didn’t have any interest in educating herself.

Because bottle feeding and artificial milk alternatives have become so commonplace, it’s cruel that the parents who want to nurse their babies the most are the ones who have the hardest time doing so in today’s culture. Breastfeeding and chestfeeding can be difficult for a variety of reasons, and adding surgery into the mix only makes matters more complicated. However, I was taught from an early age that breastfeeding is best for a baby, so I was curious to find out if it was possible for me to do so despite having a breast reduction.

I’ve written about my experience with a breast reduction here.

It seems that even someone with the most in-depth knowledge of the way the tissue and ducts and milk canals work might not understand the other aspects of breastfeeding, as my own breast surgeon told me it was 50/50 I’d be able to do so after reduction surgery. The most seasoned lactation consultants, on the other hand, may have worked with only a handful of post-surgery nursing parents, and they may not have a thorough grasp of the surgery itself. Knowing what to do next is not always easy.

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