Breastfeeding might seem like an easy thing, but ask a new mom, and you’ll know it’s not a cakewalk. Sometimes, the baby finds it difficult to latch on or doesn’t get enough milk or it’s hard to find the perfect position. Add breast reduction surgery into it, and breastfeeding seems to get more complicated. But it doesn’t have to be, as women who have had a breast surgery can go for breastfeeding later in life. There are just a few things that you need to keep in mind before going for the breast reduction surgery.
It is said that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of pneumonia in newborns, so obviously you wouldn’t want to back out from it. But what if you want to go for a breast reduction surgery and also want to breastfeed in the future?
HealthShots contacted Dr. Rashmi Taneja, Director, Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, to find out if breast reduction affects a woman’s ability to breastfeed in the future.
What is a breast reduction surgery?
There are times when women with heavy breasts go for breast reduction or reduction mammoplasty. As the name suggests, it is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the breasts. Dr Taneja says that extra skin, fat and glandular tissue are removed from the breasts during this procedure.
Indications for breast reduction
Women who have heavy breasts have physical discomfort and symptoms related to the heavy weight of the breasts. Women with big breasts can have many health issues.
• The discomfort can be felt in neck, shoulder and upper back pain. It can lead to nerve compression and neuropathy as well in extreme cases.
• Postural changes due to excessive weight of breasts causing chronic back pain.
• Skin rashes and frequent breakdown of skin under the breasts due to maceration of the skin and infections due to the sweating under the breasts.
• Difficulty in the ability to exercise due to heavy breasts.
• Inability to find clothes that fit.
• Social embarrassment and self-consciousness, especially in younger women due to heavy breasts.
Would breast reduction affect breastfeeding in future?
A properly performed breast reduction by a trained and experienced plastic surgeon will not result in any negative impact on future breastfeeding, shares Dr Taneja. When breast reduction surgery is properly planned and executed, the surgeon preserves the connection of the nipple areolar to the breast tissue and gland under it to allow for adequate breast milk production and breastfeeding by the woman in the future. But the breast tissue has to be adequately preserved to allow for adequate breastfeeding in the future. So, it’s very important for women to talk to their surgeons before going for a breast reduction surgery.
How long after breast reduction surgery can women start breastfeeding?
There are many benefits of breastfeeding your baby, so you would like to do it some time in the future. An important thing to note is that breast reduction would not be performed on a woman who is already breastfeeding or is lactating or is pregnant. After the breast reduction surgery, the breasts will take around one to two months to heal. It’s after healing that the woman can get pregnant and subsequently, breast feed as per normal routine.
Breast reduction complications
Complications that are common to any surgical procedure can happen after a breast reduction surgery as well. These include hematoma, seroma, infection, minor wound healing issues or delayed healing, says the expert. The overall risk of not being able to breastfeed is less than four percent 4, and that too if the breast gland is not adequately preserved or it is a massive volume reduction.