If you have had, or are planning to have nipple reduction or reconstruction surgery, you may be concerned about your ability to successfully breastfeed. It’s a common concern, and to help provide you with clarity, Dr. Ortiz, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Raleigh, is sharing how nipple reduction can affect breastfeeding and what you can expect.
Understanding Nipple Reduction Surgery
Nipple reduction surgery minimizes how far the nipple protrudes and can also decrease the circumference. Many women choose areola reduction to minimize the appearance of the darkened area around the nipple, and these procedures are usually performed during a breast augmentation, reduction, or lift.
During the procedure, Dr. Ortiz either performs a wedge technique or flap technique in order to reduce the overall volume of the nipple, anywhere from one third to half the original size. Using the wedge technique, he removes a wedge-shaped piece from the nipple and connects the sides to reduce the existing projection. Using the flap technique, an incision is made at the base of the nipple at the preferred projection, then excess tissue is removed and the skin is turned down to create a smaller nipple.
Can You Still Breastfeed After Nipple Reduction?
The main concern with breastfeeding after nipple reduction, or any kind of breast procedure, is whether the milk ducts and nerves in the breast are severed. However, this is not common, and a board-certified plastic surgeon takes care to preserve the milk ducts. This ensures the best chance to successfully breastfeed after the procedure.
Many women may not have their milk supply affected at all and can produce a full amount, while other women may produce less, but are still able to supplement. Nipple reduction surgery shouldn’t affect the ability to produce colostrum, the first milk your body produces after giving birth which provides your baby with vital antibodies and nourishment.
Improving Your Ability to Breastfeed After Nipple Reduction
If you are concerned about breastfeeding after having nipple reduction, these tips can improve your likelihood of success:
- Wait three years or longer after having the procedure to get pregnant. This gives more healing time and allows milk ducts to grow back if they were damaged.
- Before delivery, tell your healthcare provider about your medical history and find resources for breast feeding assistance. La Leche League can help you meet with a lactation consultant in the area.
- After delivery, skin-to-skin contact, frequent nursing, and manual expression can increase your supply.
- Continue working with a lactation consultant if you are concerned with latch or supply issues.
It’s important to mention that most women are able to successfully breastfeed after breast and nipple reduction procedures. Often, challenges with breastfeeding stem from improper technique or latch issues along with a lack of support. By opening up communication with your healthcare provider and working with a lactation consultant if you do experience challenges, you can have a more positive experience.
Schedule a Consultation for Nipple Reduction in Raleigh
If you’re uncomfortable or self-conscious with the size or shape of your nipples or would like to discuss other breast reconstruction procedures, reach out to our plastic surgery center in North Raleigh to schedule a consultation. Dr. Ortiz will sit down with you to discuss the procedure, including a more personalized look at what you can expect. Call us at (919) 532-2270 or fill out our consultation form below to get started.