Women consider breast reduction surgery for lots of reasons. Large and heavy breasts may interfere with normal life. They can make it more difficult to exercise and work. Surgery necessitates re-arranging the structure of the breast to make it smaller. This includes changing the position of the nipple. It is very understandable to ask whether you can breastfeed after breast reduction surgery.
How is the nipple changed in a breast reduction?
The nipple gets a blood supply from the chest wall via vessels travelling through the breast. The nipple must get oxygen from the blood or it will die. During a breast reduction, the nipple moves to a higher, more youthful position. The surgeon plans the operation so that the nipple’s blood vessels move with it. This is the nipple pedicle, and remains attached to the remaining part of the breast.
How does this affect breastfeeding?
When breastfeeding, milk travels from lobules where it is made, through ducts and on to the nipple. Some of these ducts are cut when the nipple is moved in a breast reduction. It is unlikely that those ducts would still be able to carry milk to the nipple in future. Yet, to keep the nipple pedicle alive there will be some ducts that remain attached to the rest of the breast. These ducts will still be able to transport milk to the nipple. It is possible that there may be enough breast tissue still connected to the nipple ducts that you can breastfeed.
Is there any way to improve the chances of breastfeeding after breast reduction?
Some surgical techniques might improve your chances of breastfeeding after a breast reduction. You should always let your surgeon know if you would like to consider this. The bottom line is that you won’t know if you can breastfeed for sure until after you have had your baby. A lactation consultant can help you with difficulties breastfeeding.