Will Breast Surgery Interfere with Breastfeeding?

Each year in the United States, more than 570,000 women opt for surgery to augment, reduce, or lift their breasts, making breast surgery the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the country. 

At McHugh Plastic Surgery, Dr. Thomas McHugh offers a wide range of breast surgery procedures — breast augmentations, breast reductions, and breast lifts — using the most advanced techniques available. While modern breast surgery is generally considered safe, many women are worried about its potential effects on functions like breastfeeding, and we dive into that here.

Breast augmentation

Of all the breast surgeries, augmentation holds the top position, with nearly 330,000 performed in the US each year. At our practice, Dr. McHugh typically places the implants behind your pectoral muscles, which means they won’t interfere with the nerves or milk glands in your breasts, so you should be able to lactate normally.

As well, these types of surgeries generally pose the least amount of problems when it comes to breastfeeding, as implants don’t usually require nipple work.

And, if you’re worried about the safety of silicone implants when it comes to breastfeeding your child, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has studied the problem and didn’t find any cause for concern.

Breast reduction and breast lifts

These two types of breast surgery often require that Dr. McHugh makes incisions around your areolae, which can sever some nerves and ducts in your breast and impact lactation. While Dr. McHugh makes every effort to preserve these connections, you may lose some of your lactating abilities, but usually not all.

For example, when you have a breast lift, Dr. McHugh repositions your breasts higher up on your chest, which means detaching your nipples and reattaching them once your breasts are in their new positions. Aside from potential problems with lactation, Dr. McHugh recommends this type of surgery after you’re done having children, as pregnancy and breastfeeding can have a considerable impact on the shape and position of your breasts.

When it comes to breast reduction surgery, Dr. McHugh not only removes excess tissue, but he also repositions your breasts and may need to detach your nipples, which may have an effect on future breastfeeding. Many women undergo breast reduction surgery at an earlier age due to the problems that large breasts pose, so he understands the importance of maintaining function, especially when it comes to breastfeeding and nipple sensitivity.

Time matters

If your nerves or ducts were affected during your breast surgery, it’s worth noting that they can reconnect, which is why women who are several years out from breast surgery often encounter no issues with breastfeeding.

Even if you need to breastfeed within a year of your surgery, you’re typically still able to produce enough milk to deliver the all-important colostrum to your baby, which contains critical antibodies that protect your child. 

If you have more questions about breast surgery and its potential effects on your ability to breastfeed, please contact our office in The Woodlands, Texas.

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