Breast implant, whether it is breast reduction or enhancement is less likely to affect your breastfeeding. Such is the ability of our bodies that, they are capable of rebuilding the nerves and ducts inside the mammary glands.
Women are always encouraged to breastfeed after they become mothers. If one has had a breast or nipple surgery, they can still breastfeed their babies. While some mothers won’t face any problems with the milk supply, others might produce comparatively lesser breast milk. This depends upon the type of breast surgery that you underwent.
The milk supply gets affected when the surgery affects the milk ducts and nerves present in the breasts.
Black Reduction Surgery
During breast reduction surgery, a part of the breast tissue is removed and the breasts are reshaped into a smaller size. It depends upon how much reduction is surgically done—surgeries that involve removing the nipple and areola can damage the milk ducts. Surgeries involving removal and attachment of nipples affects the milk flow and decrease the sensitivity of the nipples by damaging the nerves.
Sensation in the nipples is important for breastfeeding as it stimulates the body to produce hormones like prolactin and oxytocin that causes milk production and release.
However, the nipples can develop the sensation by regenerating the nerves and ducts damaged during the surgery. Recanalization and reinnervation are two methods by which the body manages to produce milk (though in less quantity) after damage caused due to breast augmentation.
Recanalization is the process through which the severed ducts are able to form new pathways and reestablish connections for providing milk supply. It is a natural process that gets triggered by the body’s response to lactation. Recanalization is likely to happen if the mother has lactated before for a longer duration or has experienced more menstrual cycles—the hormone released during each cycle contributes to the formation of lactation tissue.1
The injured nerve in the breast tissue can regenerate which is known as reinnervation. Nerve regrowth doesn’t depend on the lactation and naturally occurs at the rate of 1 mm per month. Over the course of time, the nipples gain sensitivity. Longer the time elapsed between the surgery and the lactation, the better are the chances of nerve regeneration.
Breastfeeding after the surgery also depends on the working of milk ducts before the surgery and the mother’s take on breastfeeding.
Breast Enhancement Surgery
To augment the breasts, the surgeons insert saline or silicone implants beneath the breast tissue or the chest muscles. It doesn’t affect the quantity of milk supply as the mother’s natural breast tissue remain where they are.
Sometimes, though, the surgeons make an incision at the edge of the areola termed as periareolar tissue. This could damage the nerve cells and impact the milk supply. Such an incision is usually done to prevent scarring—check with your doctor to make sure your milk ducts are and not severed in the process.
If you had a breast surgery and want to increase your milk supply, the only way is getting as much milk out of your body as possible, especially in the first two weeks. The amount of milk your body learns to produce is determined by how much milk you remove in the first weeks. Apart from breastfeeding, you can either pump and manually express your breast milk. Express your milk after each feeding and continue it for 10 days at a stretch.
Women who had a breast surgery and are looking forward to breastfeeding their baby must consult a lactation specialist to guide them on how to breastfeed and cope with the problems they face while feeding. They can also determine whether your baby is getting enough milk.
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