Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

Make sure you’re ready and informed about how breast reduction surgery influences your breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

Written by Medical Quality Manager, Clare , BN (Hons)

Medical Review by Chief Commercial Officer, Dr. Lizzie Tuckey , MBBS, BA

Published: Friday 7 June 2024

Many people worry about the influence breast reduction surgery will have on their breastfeeding journey. Removing breast tissue via surgery means the amount of milk produced after a breast reduction can (but not always) be reduced.

If you’re interested in breast reduction surgery but also plan on having children and want to breastfeed, this article will provide more information to help you make an informed decision.

Where does breast milk come from?

First, let’s understand breastmilk production. Breast milk is created in glands and ducts within the breast. Each person has a different number of milk-producing glands in their breasts. These glands produce milk which is then expressed via the nipple.

Breastfeeding is not a one size fits all process and many people, regardless of breast reduction surgery, have difficulty breastfeeding. What happens to breasts during pregnancy and breastfeeding? In most cases, breasts will grow during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, breasts will increase in weight and size depending on the amount of milk produced.

Although breasts will often return to their ‘normal’ size after breastfeeding, the shape and feel of the breast tissue and the texture of the skin may change postpartum and after weaning.

What is a Breast Reduction?

A breast reduction is the removal and sometimes re-shaping of breast tissue. You might undergo this surgery for cosmetic reasons, to cure chronic back pain or to make certain activities easier. Tissue is removed from the breast area, and the breast is re-shaped. In rare cases, the nipple is removed and reattached.

As some tissue from the milk-producing glands in the breast is removed during a breast reduction, the experience of breastfeeding will be influenced by the techniques used during surgery to remove tissue.

Are there any types of surgery that guarantee the ability to breastfeed after surgery?

The short answer is no. Any removal of breast tissue will include the removal of milk-producing glands as this is what breast tissue is largely made of. Breast reduction techniques that preserve the connection between the nipple and the ducts and glands present at the front of the breast are the best option for people seeking surgery and planning on breastfeeding later in life. But removing the tissue will have an impact on how much milk your breasts can produce.

What are the most common breast reduction techniques used during surgery today?

The most popular breast reduction techniques involve keeping the nipple and areola attached to a section of breast tissue called a pedicle that remains untouched during surgery.

With this method, the nipple and areola are attached to a constant blood supply, without severing nerves or disturbing a section of milk glands. There is a much higher chance of preserving nipple sensation and breastfeeding ability after healing with this pedicle technique compared to other methods where the nipple is removed from the breast and reattached.

Are there options to support breastfeeding after a breast reduction?

Some surgeons recommend breast pumping as this can promote milk production when breastfeeding after a breast reduction.

In the end, though, it’s important to remember that baby formula is a completely healthful option to supplement or replace breastfeeding if the parents or guardians of the baby are unable to breastfeed. After all, the final goal of this entire pursuit is to raise a healthy, happy baby no matter if this is accomplished with breastfeeding, formula feeding, or both.

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