As you contemplate going for breast reduction surgery, it is important to understand how it works and its effects. Breast reduction is an invasive procedure through which a plastic surgeon removes extra skin, fat, and tissue from your breasts. The whole procedure takes about four hours, depending on the breast reduction technique used.
Studies have shown that about half a million women worldwide have undergone breast reduction surgery every year. However, it is still not very clear how this procedure impacts breastfeeding. Some experts claim that it is impossible to breastfeed when you have had a breast reduction. But others argue that it is possible to breastfeed after this procedure. This uncertainty leaves women in a dilemma.
In this article, we take a closer look at the relationship between breast reduction and breastfeeding. We also discuss the various surgical techniques used to minimize breast reduction’s negative effects on breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Feedback Loop Damage
For you to breastfeed, there must be a proper feedback loop between your nerves, hormones, and ducts. If this loop is damaged, the production and delivery of milk to the baby I affected. Unfortunately, these nerves and ducts might get damaged during the breast reduction process.
In the past, it was challenging for women to breastfeed after breast reduction. But today, cosmetic surgeons have discovered different techniques to carry out this procedure without tampering with the structures related to lactation.
Duct Recanalization and Nerve Regeneration
It should not be the end of your breastfeeding if your ducts are severed during the breast reduction procedure because it has been found to reconnect with each other after some time. Furthermore, research has shown that some new milk delivery pathways develop over time. Experts claim that the body is designed to develop a natural detour around the damaged tissue.
However, the extent of recanalization of ducts depends on many factors, including the frequency of lactation. The same case happens when the 4th intercostal nerve, which signals the brain to release oxytocin and prolactin, is damaged. But the regeneration of nerves takes longer than duct recanalization, and, sometimes, it may never occur.
Preservation of Subareolar Parenchyma
Studies have shown that breast reduction techniques that preserve the subareolar parenchyma column improve successful lactation after the surgery. This column is an important part of the gland that is responsible for lactating. So, during your pre-surgery consultation, ask your surgeon if he or she can maximize your likelihood of breastfeeding after the surgery.