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Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

by Heather Belford, Midwife, Hinchinbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, England

Women who have undergone breast-reduction surgery have successfully breastfed. There are two types of reduction mammoplasty: 1. The nipple and areola area being carried on a pedicle of tissue to their new location with their own blood and nerve supply. In the process the nipples are separated from the lactiferous ducts. The volume of breast tissue is reduced and the skin trimmed. 2. The nipple and areola are completely removed from the blood and nerve supply and the duct system. They are repositioned as a free graft higher up on a bed of breast tissue. Lactation is not possible after this type of operation. This type of mammoplasty is rare in the United Kingdom.

Complete rooming in and total demand feeding are important to make the attempt to breastfeed, worthwhile. Night feeds are also paramount as this is when a woman’s prolactin levels are raised. Three out of five women I looked at, who had mammoplasty, breastfed their babies exclusively. One mother said her doctor gave her a 50% chance of lactation after her reduction and added, “Until my baby was sucking at my breast and my milk came at the second day, I still did not believe I would be able to successfully breastfeed. Now I have a 16 month-old who is fully breastfed, in fact she likes her milk so much she isn’t terribly interested in solids.”


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