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Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

The Blog
Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

Many women who are considering a Scottsdale breast reduction surgery wonder how this procedure can impact their ability to breastfeed. To put it rather simply, every case is different. Some women have difficulty producing enough milk following a breast reduction procedure, while others are able to breast successfully after this surgery. It’s important to discuss your future breastfeeding plans with the surgical team responsible for your treatment.

During the reduction surgery, some glandular tissue is removed. The surgeon will likely also divide the some of the milk ducts and nerves, as well as elevate the nipple. All this can impact the patient’s ability to produce and express milk. Fortunately, though, plastic surgeons have advanced techniques that help them protect some of the parts responsible for making milk. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss any concerns you may have about breastfeeding following a breast reduction with your surgeon.

Type of reduction surgery and breastfeeding success

How the reduction surgery is performed can have a dramatic impact on breastfeeding success. The procedure can affect breastfeeding in the following ways:

  • Cut milk ducts and nerves – if milk ducts are cut during the breast reduction, parts of the breast might become engorged – which may end up shutting down milk production because there’s no outlet. Cutting important nerves in the breast area can reduce their sensitivity and also affect neurohormonal reflex that is responsible for milk production.
  • Removed nipple – in rare situations where the nipple is completely removed and relocated during breast reduction surgery (what is referred to as a free nipple graft), important milk ducts, nerves, and breast tissue are disrupted. In these cases, the woman is then unable to breastfeed and nipple sensation is permanently lost.
  • Breast tissue scarring – any scarring that takes place within the breast during the reduction surgery can affect lactation.

Surgical technique and impact on lactation

Different surgical techniques for breast reduction will have varying impact on lactation.

  • Liposuction – this is the least invasive surgical technique that’s often used in breast reduction procedures. The surgeon will make incisions in the breast and use suction tubes to excise fat deposits. Depending on where this tube is inserted, liposuction may lead to damage of the glandular tissue and cause some scarring. For women who are worried about breastfeeding in the future, this technique causes the least damage.
  • Inferior pedicle technique – this technique entails removal of the outer parts of the breast, as well as nipple repositioning. The nipple will be left intact on a pedicle (mound of tissue) to make sure it still has the ducts, blood supply, and nerves intact. Compared to other surgical technique, this type of procedure retains more glandular tissue, which can help preserve breastfeeding later. Inferior pedicle technique will leave an anchor type scar from the nipple to downwards to the chest wall and out to each side.
  • Periareolar reduction – breast reduction surgeons make the incision around your areola and pull out the breast tissue. Glandular tissue is excised along with fatty tissue and this technique may also lead to damage of important nerves. This technique is rarely performed.
    Central mound – this approach preserves the patient’s nipple-areola complex. However, there may be significant damage to glandular tissue as a result of the methods used to reshape the breast.
  • Periareolar with mesh support – this technique is designed to limit post-surgery sagging. It is highly invasive and may lead to the removal of large amounts of important nerves and glandular tissue.
  • Superior pedicle – the nipple-areola complex is preserved but this technique may have an impact on the ducts and nerves because it removes gland tissue under the nipple.
  • Free nipple graft – this reduction technique has the biggest influence on lactation. It entails total nipple removal before it’s moved to a new position on the resized breast. Free nipple graft will lead to damage of nerves and ducts. Nipple sensation is lost along with the ability to lactate.

Influence of time on healing

With the passing of time, damaged nerves may be able to reconnect through a process known as reinnervation. Severed ducts could also reconnect to the nipple, and some of the sensitivity that was previously lost on the nipple may be regained.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have enough milk?

It’s likely you will not have the full supply of milk after breast reduction surgery and almost all women need to supplement their breastfeeding. Keeping a close eye on your baby’s wet diapers and weight gain may help you gauge your breasts’ milk output.

What can I do to maximize milk supply?

Mothers can discuss the expression of colostrum with their health care professionals before the birth. In the first few hours after birth, the mother can spend time in skin-to-skin contact to help the milk supply. If the baby is not latching, hand expressing will suffice. Other factors that can help stimulate your milk supply include frequent breastfeeding and ensuring that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt.

What breastfeeding challenges am I likely to experience after reduction surgery?

Some of the common breastfeeding challenges that mothers experience following a breast reduction surgery include the following:

  • Severe engorgement when milk comes in
  • Reduced sensation on the nipple
  • Sore, white, or painful nipples
  • Pain in the breasts

Dr. LaBarbera’s Breast Reduction

Dr. LaBarbera has helped countless women in the Gilbert, Scottsdale, and surrounding Arizona areas achieve their desired results with breast reduction surgery. A highly experienced surgeon, Dr. LaBarbera uses the safest reduction techniques and approaches so the patient can maintain as high a degree of breastfeeding success in the future as possible. Book a free consultation to see our breast reduction surgery before and after female breast reduction gallery and get all your breastfeeding after breast reduction questions answered.


Jude LaBarbera MD Plastic Surgery of Gilbert
2730 S. VAL VISTA DR. BLDG 4 #117B