Cosmetic Surgery Tips

can i breastfeed after a breast lift

Can I Breastfeed After a Breast Lift?

As a mother, you want to do everything you can to take care of your child. This includes breastfeeding, which is an extremely important part of a child’s development. However, if you have undergone breast augmentation or are considering it, you may have concerns about whether or not breastfeeding is still possible after the procedure.

Breast augmentation (also known as augmentation mammoplasty) is a surgical procedure that involves inserting soft silicone implants into your breasts in order to increase their size and shape. This can improve the appearance of both breasts, but it does not actually change either the size or shape of the nipple or areola (the area around the nipple). For this reason, breastfeeding after breast augmentation should be possible.

Although there are no long-term studies on how breastfeeding affects women who have undergone augmentation mammoplasty, there are several factors that may affect your ability to continue nursing:

The type of implant used in your procedure

The position of your nipples before and after surgery The amount of time it takes for them to heal after the operation

can i breastfeed after a breast lift

Breastfeeding after surgery is a great question that frequently comes up during breast lift consultations with Dr. George Sanders. It is so common that Dr. Sanders wanted to write an entire blog post covering the topic, in the hopes that it will help women considering surgery feel better educated about the issue. Here, Dr. Sanders reveals three important truths about breastfeeding and breast lift surgery.

Breast lift usually has no impact on the ability to breastfeed.

It is absolutely possible to breastfeed after breast lift (and breast augmentation and breast reduction) surgery. If you are contemplating breast lift, there is no reason to believe that your ability to breastfeed will be impaired by your decision to undergo surgery. In the large majority of cases, women are able to successfully lactate and nurse their babies after breast lift surgery.

One important caveat is that Dr. Sanders should be made aware of your desire to breastfeed after surgery. At the time of your surgical consultation, you should explain your goals and inquire about what can be done to accommodate them. Dr. Sanders can design certain parts of your surgical plan with this in mind. For example, he may place the incisions in a particular location, dissect the tissue differently or make other modifications to preserve the nipple ducts and prevent the formation of scar tissue. Keeping as much of the central breast mound intact as possible is important to avoid disturbing milk production.

If you could breastfeed prior to surgery, you should be able to after surgery.

Not every breast lift patient is able to breastfeed after surgery, but this has nothing to do with the procedure. The truth is that there are women that are unable to breastfeed, regardless of whether they have had any type of breast lift surgery. Neither Dr. Sanders nor any other medical professional can predict with complete certainly whether you can breastfeed after surgery. However, if you could nurse before surgery, there is a great chance you will be able to after surgery too.

Breastfeeding can cause recurrent ptosis.

The final truth that Dr. Sanders wants to share is that breastfeeding can cause recurrent breast sagging. If you are concerned with the possibility of recurrent ptosis, you should prepare yourself for the possibility that you will need another breast lift surgery. If this is something you can accept, the second breast lift surgery should be planned after you are finished having children and have weaned your last baby.

what are the chances of being able to breastfeed after breast reduction

Photo: iStockphoto

Melissa Blanchard’s breasts were so large they gave her back pain and put pressure on her shoulders and neck that led to migraines. “I was really uncomfortable all the time,” she says. So when she was in her mid-twenties, she decided to have a breast reduction surgery.

After 10 hours of surgery, Blanchard had gone down several sizes to a C cup. The surgery was life-changing: Not only did she feel better physically but she also felt a lot more confident in her body. Her surgeon had told her there was a possibility the surgery would impact her ability to breastfeed, so when she was pregnant with her first daughter nearly 15 years later, she tried not to get too attached to the idea. “But once I had her, I really wanted to do it,” she says.

Blanchard was relieved when she was able to produce some milk while still in the hospital after delivery, but her daughter lost too much weight in the first few days, and the doctor told her she needed to supplement with formula. For the next few months, Blanchard would nurse, then give her baby a bottle of formula before pumping in an effort to stimulate her supply.

“Breastfeeding just felt like the right thing to do for her immune system, and I wanted the bonding. It was really hard when it wasn’t working,” says Blanchard. By six months, Blanchard gave up nursing altogether, opting to pump and feed whatever breastmilk she could garner by bottle, because her baby was getting so frustrated at the breast. At 10 months, she went to exclusively feeding her baby formula.

Problems with milk supply may occur in women who have had breast reduction surgery. During the procedure, a surgeon removes part of the breast that may include glandular tissue and ducts that produce and transport milk to the nipple. It’s not that breastfeeding is impossible, says John Semple, head of plastic surgery at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, “but the amount of milk produced from breasts after surgery may be reduced.”

During a breast reduction, some of the nerves responsible for sensation required for the letdown reflex, which signals your brain to produce milk when a baby sucks on your nipple, can also be severed.

I was set on breastfeeding despite having breast reduction surgery as a teenFortunately, with the most common type of breast reduction, the surgeon leaves the nipple attached and cuts around it. In these cases, nerves will typically regrow and you will regain sensation (although this can take up to a year after surgery). However, if you’ve had what’s called a “free nipple graft,” the nipple is actually removed and then reattached as a skin graft. In these cases, some sensation may return, but being able to breastfeed is unlikely.

Regardless of the type of breast reduction surgery, there is no way of knowing until after you’ve had a baby if you’ll be able to breastfeed. Taya Griffin, a lactation consultant in Toronto, encourages women who have had a reduction to try to breastfeed, but it’s a good idea to be prepared that you may have to supplement at least some of your baby’s nutrition with formula. “While it may be possible to breastfeed, more often I see mothers who have not been able to do so completely on their own,” says Griffin.

It’s always important to get breastfeeding off to a good start, but Griffin says it’s paramount for women who have had reductions. “There’s almost no room for error,” she says. That’s because your breastmilk operates on supply and demand—the more your baby consumes, the more your body will make. If a bad latch or a tongue-tie are getting in the way, you won’t produce as much milk. Because of this, she recommends that every woman who’s had a reduction reach out to a lactation consultant—ideally even before birth.

Griffin says a lactation consultant or naturopath might recommend natural supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle, which are thought to boost milk production. She also encourages women to talk to their doctors about a prescription for domperidone, which can stimulate milk production.

If you do need to supplement with formula (or donated breast milk, if it’s available to you), Griffin suggests using a lactation aid, also known as a supplemental nursing system, where the supplemental milk is in a container attached to a tube which is placed into the baby’s mouth while he’s sucking at the breast. “This helps maximize the breast milk supply, but also means baby can exclusively feed at the breast, if that’s what mom desires.”

Griffin says many women she has worked with struggle emotionally if breastfeeding is difficult post-reduction, especially if they were younger when they had the surgery and didn’t understand the full extent of how it would affect breastfeeding—and how important breastfeeding might be to them in the future.

She says she approaches breastfeeding after a reduction surgery the same way she approaches all breastfeeding. “Go through all the steps of the things that you think are going to help you, like hiring a lactation consultant, or going to a clinic and getting support from Facebook groups, or La Leche league, and if you get to a point where you say, ‘look, I gave it everything,’ then don’t worry about changing the way you feed your baby if that feels right for you.”

For Blanchard’s second baby, now 14 months old, she breastfed for one month before moving to exclusively formula-feeding. With two children now to deal with, she couldn’t focus all her time and energy on something that just didn’t work well. She doesn’t regret the much-needed surgery, and she’s glad she gave both her daughters as much breastmilk as she could.

Now, she says: “With my first, I wish someone had told me, ‘you can try this if you want, but if it doesn’t work, it’s not because you’re a failure. It’s because the milk’s just not there.’”

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