What Breast Reduction Technique Has High Rate of Success for Breastfeeding?

Doctor Answers 9

Breast feeding after breast reduction

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To my knowledge, no study of the correlation between incision type and ability to breast feed has been performed. My patients are so relieved to have the burden of heavy breasts lifted from their chests that they would not want to breast feed and risk the need for re-operation. I agree with Dr. Sowder that, unlike other operations which are elective and can be deferred until after childbearing, breast reduction to alleviate musculoskeletal complaints is so beneficial in alleviating patient pain that it is appropriate to operate and not to delay surgery until a patient has had children.

Breast feeding after reduction

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This study has never been done.  A woman should not have a breast reduction if she is hoping to be able to breast feed a baby.  It is true that some women have some lactation after reduction but it is unusual for there to be enough milk to fully support an infant's nutritional needs. 

That being said, breast feeding may be overrated and I would not recommend that a young woman who would otherwise benefit from a reduction suffer with her humongous breasts for years because of the breast feeding issue.  Check out my web reference and please don't report me to the La Leche League. 


Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Breast feeding after Breast Reduction?

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Great question but unfortunately we don't have an answer. There are many different techniques used to perform a breast reduction and I think each Plastic Surgeon does it slightly differently. There have not been any studies that I am aware of that look at the rate of the ability to breast feed after Breast reduction surgery. The study would be difficult to perform because not all women are able to breast feed anyway. We would first have to see if a woman can breast feed then perform a breast reduction, the see if she can breast feed again. Interesting question. I tell my patients that Breast Reduction surgery may or may not affect the ability to breast feed. They should certainly try if they want to.

Sheila Bond, MD
Montclair Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Breastfeeding after reduction mammaplasty

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All techniques that maintain continuity of breast glandular tissue and the nipple should preserve the capacity for lactation.  The only technique that interrupts this continuity is free nipple grafting, no longer a commonly applied method for reduction mammaplasty.  There is no guarantee of successful breast feeding after surgery, regardless of the technique, and many women who have never had surgery are unable to breast feed.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Breast reduction and successful breast feeding

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There is no form of breast reduction with a high rate of successful breast feeding. With both popular techniques, vertical or 'T' pattern, the breast will become tender and engorge with pregnancy, and will lactate. Successful breast feeding takes more that some breast milk production. If breast feeding is important to you, hold off on reduction. Can you nurse after reduction, yes, but expect to supplement.

Best of luck, peterejohnsonmd

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Breast reduction

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No particular way of performing a breast reduction can ensure a particular amount of breast feeding or a percentage.  There will be a reduction, or even no nursing at all.  In my opinion, being able to nurse should not be used as a criteria to have bresast reduction.  415.923.3800

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Breast Reduction and Breastfeeding

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Anytime you are removing breast tissue, there is going to be a decrease in the ability to breastfeed.  Ideally, you try and leave as much breast tissue underneath the nipple areola complex to support both the sensation and blood supply to the nipple, as well as potential breastfeeding.  There are many different techniques, but none have been proven to be better for breastfeeding potential over the others.  If breastfeeding is paramount to a patient, then they should wait until they are done having children before undergoing a breast reduction.

Breast reduction and breast feeding

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Generally speaking breast reduction is ideally reserved for after you have completed your family.  However, there are certainly many women that can and do benefit from breast reduction surgery before they are finished having children.  In these cases it is important to keep in mind that approximately 25% of women ( that have never had any type of breast surgery) cannot successfully breast feed for one reason or another.  Therefore 75% can.  There are no significant differences in breast reduction technique with regards to preserving the ability to breast feed.  After breast reduction surgery, the probability of being able to breast feed drops from 75% to 50%.

Breast Reduction and Breast Feeding

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Thank you for the question.

Most breast reduction procedures involved leaving a certain amount of tissue intact to supply blood flow to the nipple/areola;  this tissue is called the pedicle. These “pedicles” can bring blood flow from above (superior)  or from below (inferior). It is the presence of this breast tissue that makes breast-feeding an option for many patients who have undergone breast reduction surgery.

I am not aware of any studies that show one technique demonstrating a higher rate of success of breast-feeding. It may be difficult to quantify since some ladies are not able to proceed, without having had breast surgery at all.

I hope this helps.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.