How Will Nipple Surgery During Breast Lift Affect Breast Feeding?

I have lost well over a hundred pounds. My breasts now feels like my grandmother's skin. They have lost most of their elasticity and are practically paper thin.

For a Breast lift procedure, in what circumstances is the nipple detached? Would the areola/nipple complex have to be removed for a Breast lift on someone with such major sagging? If so, what would be my chances of still being able to breast feed?

Doctor Answers 21

Free nipple technique rarely used with breast lift

Congrats on the massive weight loss ! Free Nipple Graft is only required in reduction of massively enlarged breasts or extremely long length to be lifted with a breast lift. It results in inability to breast feed, loss of sensation, loss of nipple projection, incomplete take of the nipple/areolar graft and other complications can occur with this procedure. In my practice this is a very unusual as even very large or long breasts can be reduced with other techniques. On the other hand this is a technique that should be considered when it is expected that there is not sufficient blood supply for the nipple and areola survival in extreme cases. One option your surgeon can try is to see if the nipple/areola has a sufficient blood supply at the time of surgery.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Breast feeding after breast lift

Congratulations on your weight loss. That's a fantastic achievement!

Breast lift can have an adverse effect on breast feeding ability and difficulty or inability to breast feed after surgery is a possible risk.  However, this risk is rare.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

How will nipple surgery during breast lift affect breastfeeding?

Hello! Thank you for your question! Breast procedures such as the breast lift and breast reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts along with raising of the nipple-areolar complex to an appropriate position. Since there is an incision made around the areola along with some rearrangement of tissue of the breast, there is a risk, albeit very small, of change in sensation to the area. However, in terms of breastfeeding, studies have shown that there is no increased risk of changing your ability to do so after breast procedures. Not every woman can breastfeed...thus if you can now, your ability to do so will not change after such procedures. If you do need a free nipple graft , in which as you describe, the nipple-areolar complex is actually removed and grafted back on to the breast, then your ducts have completely severed and sensation and breastfeeding ability have been severed.  This is a very unlikley situation, but one which should be discussed with your plastic surgeon.  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Nipple surgery during Breast Lift and breast feeding

In most cases, in full breast lifting, the nipple/areolar complex is left attached to the pedicle flap. So there is a higher percentage of attaining normal sensation and breast feeding postoperatively. I have not heard of removing the nipple/areolar complex in only a breast lift, but in a long pedicled reduction/lift that is one of the surgical options. If this free nipple/areolar graft is done the possibilities of having decreased or absence of sensation and the in ability to breast feed exist. You need in to be guaranteed to be able to breast feed than the option of no surgery until after the pregnancy may be the best for you. Please be careful.I

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Breast Lift and Breast Feeding

There is no definitive statistics regarding the number of women who can not breast feed but the percentage is reportedly less than 5% for decreased or total inability to breast feed post surgery. In most cases the areola/nipple complex does not need to be detached for breast lift. Consult in person with 3 board certified plastic surgeons to understand your options.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Weight loss and breast lift sensation changes


  Usually the nipples do NOT need to be removed as free nipple grafts during a breast lift only.  There are exceptions to this of course.

  With the skin being so loose as you describe, then you will probably be a longer distance for the nipple to be moved upward.  The good part of loose tissue like this is that a good amount of tissue can stay attached to ensure the blood supply to the moved nipple complex.

  No promises can be given about breast feeding but as mentioned, if there is a lot of tissue remaining attached to the moved nipple complex, this also reflects the  ducts that stay attached to the moved nipple complexes.  The more that stay attached, the better the chances of the ducts working for breast feeding.  However, you will have to face the consideration that you will not be able to breast feed. 


Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Breast-feeding after Breast Lifting?

Thank you for the question.


Generally, the nipple/areola are not “detached” when performing breast lifting surgery.

Yes there is a risk of  a  decreased ability to breast-feed  after breast lifting surgery. Exact percentages are hard to come by ( because some ladies are not able to breast-feed even without having undergone breast surgery)  but my estimation would be 5 percent  risk of a decreased or complete loss of  ability to breast-feed with this operation.

Patients must weigh this risk (along with many others)  against the benefits of the procedure when contemplating breast lifting surgery.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Inadequate breast feeding

now the nipples will still be attached to the rest of the breast tissue when doing breast reduction unless taken as a skin grafts which i dont think its you case

all patient have to know that milk production will be affected to certain degree because we in this procedure will remove some of the breast glandular tissue.

we can not tell you that breast feeding will disappear completely or it will stay the same 100 % .

Nawarah Alarfaj, MD
Saudi Arabia Plastic Surgeon

Breast feeding usually possible after breast lift

Typically, an implant placed beneath the pectoral muscle would be required to restore volume in the breast you described. The breast tissue and nipple could then be lifted up and placed over the implant to restore the breast shape with the implant supplying the volume. Any excess skin would be excised or removed.

It's unlikely the nipple/areola complex would have to be totally detached; this is usually reserved for a few instances in breast reduction cases. As far as breast feeding goes, if you have been able to breastfeed in the past, it's likely you'll continue to be able to do so. Consult a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you determine the best plan of action for your specific body type.

Deason Dunagan, MD
Huntsville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast lift will not affect breast feeding.


in a well done breast lift, the nipple is slid up but never detached. Breast feeding is not affected. Breast feeding is not even affected in a breast reduction.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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.