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I’ve had breast surgery: will I be able to breastfeed?  
Breastfeeding after breast surgery
Breastfeeding may be harder for women who have had breast surgery but with help and advice from specialists in breastfeeding you can use to ensure the best possible supply and the best possible start in life for your baby. Remember that success in breastfeeding should not be measured in millilitres but in time and relationship building between mum and baby.

Overview
I’ve got breast implants
I’ve had a breast reduction or lift
I had a lump taken out my breast
Summary
Overview
There is no doubt among mother and baby specialists that breastfeeding is the optimum way to feed your newborn. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and for the continuation of breastfeeding for two years. If you have had previous breast surgery you might have been told that you cannot breastfeed, or you might be concerned that you will not have enough milk, due to the surgery or because you have not much breast tissue. Is it possible to be successful at breastfeeding after breast surgery?

Breastfeeding may be a natural process, but it often doesn’t come naturally. Having previous surgery may have removed breast milk-producing tissue; cut or destroy the ducts that carry the milk to the nipple; or interrupt the nerves that tell mum’s brain that the baby is sucking. It is extremely rare that a woman can’t produce any milk though, and it is important to remember that any breast milk, even a small amount, is incredibly important boosting the immune system, the brain and the gut of your baby.
 
I’ve got breast implants
Over half a million women worldwide will receive breast implants every year and approximately 80% of these are under the age of 30.

Breastfeeding is still absolutely possible after having cosmetic implants! Breast feeding does depend on adequate breast milk tissue. Women who have had small breasts (often before augmentation) may worry that they would not have ‘enough breast’ to breastfeed but studies have shown that actually size of breast is not related in any way to ability to breastfeed.

You might be worried that the silicone from implants could harm your baby, but studies show that there is no risk of silicone being leaked into your milk. Normally the implant is tucked behind the chest muscle and far away from milk tissue, but even when the implant is in contact with the breast tissue, there is no reported risk- even when the implant has ruptured. When the rates of silicon in milk were compared between women with and without implants in studies equal amounts were found in both, as part of the normal make-up of human milk, and both were found to be ten times less than that found in cow’s milk or infant formula.

Breast implants are placed behind the chest muscle in most types of implant procedures which may exert less pressure on the breast than an implant behind the breast tissue alone, which may also affect supply. Most women have at least some milk, and there are ways of increasing your milk supply if it is initially low. Your midwife or a lactation consultant can help and advise you.
 
I’ve had a breast reduction or lift
Breast reduction surgery is carried out in women who are suffering complications of having very large breasts, most commonly back and shoulder pain. In most circumstances it involves removal of portions of breast tissue including milk-producing tissue, and the cutting of the milk ducts. It can also include severing the nerves around the nipple.

In the largest piece of research looking at many studies of breastfeeding after reduction surgery, it was found that rates of success can be equivalent to women who have not had surgery. This may not mean that exclusive breastfeeding is possible in all circumstances, but if encouraged by breastfeeding, the remaining milk tissue can increase in size and in rare circumstances ducts may rejoin or find new pathways. The breast works on a supply/demand system and therefore the more milk is removed from the breast, the more will be produced.

Because of scarring within the breast, engorgement in the remaining breast tissue may be more of a problem which needs to be addressed, but fears that this increases the risk of breast infections are unfounded. It is more common for women not to breastfeed after reduction surgery because they have been told it will not be possible or because they are discouraged by the little amount they can produce initially. If you have had reduction surgery, involve a breastfeeding specialist before you give birth and you can discuss measures to stimulate supply as soon as possible after birth.
 
I had a lump taken out my breast
Some women may have had non-cancerous lumps such as fibroadenomas or cysts removed from their breast at a younger age. These lumps do not affect your ability to breast feed even if they are still in your breast, however the type of surgery you had might.

The method used to remove tissue from the breast including the type of incision can make a difference however. In comparisons between women who had an incision around the nipple, as opposed to beneath the breast in the armpit, women with nipple incisions were more likely to experience problems with breastfeeding. This is because the ducts which move milk from the milk tissue to the nipple may have been cut, or the area scarred. In addition the nerve that gives feedback to the breast to make milk may have been damaged, particularly if the cut is in the lower, outer quadrant of the areola. Although you will not know how good your milk supply will be, if you have sensation (feeling) in your nipple the chances are higher that you will have a more complete supply.
 
Summary
Breastfeeding may be harder for women who have had breast surgery or there may be less milk, but with help and advice from specialists in breastfeeding you can use to ensure the best possible supply and the best possible start in life for your baby. Finally remember that success in breastfeeding should not be measured in millilitres but in time and relationship building between mum and baby.
 
 
 
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