Did you know you may be able to breast feed after breast reduction?
Most women know intuitively having a breast reduction procedure will have implications for them should they wish to breast feed in the future.
Many assume they will not be able to breast feed should they decide to have a breast reduction procedure prior to having a family. I think this is a reasonable starting point. If you assume you will not be able to breast feed after breast reduction either way you cannot be disappointed. If you cannot breast feed then that is what you expected. If it turns out that you can breast feed then it is an unexpected bonus.
What the research says though is more positive and reassuring.
In a research study first published in 2005 (1) breast feeding rates after breast reduction was examined. In this study women who had had a child at some point after they had had a breast reduction procedure were questioned about their breast feeding experiences.
In this study where women had had breast reduction performed using a number of different techniques (Superior pedicle and horizontal pedicle these techniques commonly associated with a "lollipop" scar pattern, and Inferior pedicle usually used with the "anchor" scar pattern).
The researchers defined successful breast feeding as being able to feed your baby exclusively with breast milk (without supplementing with formula milk) for 3 weeks or longer.
What was observed was 71% of women with superior pedicle, 77% of women with inferior pedicle and 63% of women with a horizontal pedicle technique were able to successfully breast feed.
Interestingly 22% of women had made no attempt at all to breast feed. If you subtract them for the percentages above these women achieved very high rates of success.
I have listed multiple other studies which broadly support these findings below if you wish to read the studies and gain greater insight.
In summary what the available research suggests is:
- You will make breast milk normally after a breast reduction procedure
- You may well be able to successfully breast feed your baby even if you have a breast reduction prior to having your family
- The most important factors in achieving successful breast feeding after breast reduction (irrespective of the technique) is to be encouraged by your doctor to try and access to an expert breast feeding consultant. (Normally lactation consultants are nursing midwives with long practical experience in this area and an extra qualification in this very specific skill. They are also usually really lovely, supportive women who have had their own families and "get it").
*This blog is best read in conjunction with the blog about breast feeding rates in Australia which you will also see on this site
- Breast feeding after reduction mammoplasty: a comparison of 3 techniques. Kakagia D, Tripsiannis G, Tsoutsos D. Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2005 Oct;55(4):343-5
- Breast feeding after inferior pedicle reduction mammoplasty. Brzozowski D, Niessen M, Evans HB, Hurst LN. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2000 Feb;105(2):530-4
- Breast feeding after vertical reduction mammoplasty using a superior pedicle. Chercel A, Azzam C, DE Mey A.
- Lactation and breast feeding ability following lateral pedicle mammoplasty. Hefter W, Lindholm P, Elvenes OP. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2003 Dec;56(8):746-51
- Breastfeeding after reduction mammoplasty. Marshall DR, Callan PP, Nicholson W. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 1994 April,47(3):167-9
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