Are you considering a breast lift? Years of gravity can certainly take their toll, so more and more women are opting for this rejuvenating procedure that gives the breasts a more “perky” appearance. The exact details of the procedure will vary by client, but a breast lift generally involves taking away excess tissue and repositioning the breasts so that they appear more youthful, which the experts at Rios Center for Plastic Surgery in Edinburg, TX have years of experience in doing.
As with any medical procedure, it’s normal for clients to be concerned about how this might affect their everyday life. If you are looking to start a family anytime soon, you might be wondering if breast surgery can interfere with your ability to breastfeed your baby. Luckily, breast lifts are relativity simple procedures, and once you are recovered, you can expect a lot of the normal functions of your breasts to come back quickly.
Will My Breasts Have Normal Function After a Breast Lift?
Every person is different, but generally-speaking, after a breast lift you can expect:
- Normal sensation in the nipples
- Normal reaction to temperature changes
- The typical changes in breast appearance and sensation throughout your monthly cycle
This all comes back with time and recovery, and the goal of this surgery is to simply offer a more youthful appearance without affecting any of the function. How long the recovery takes varies from individual to individual, but sensation and function will usually return to normal over the course of weeks or months.
The main factor that affects how your body will react and how quickly your nipple’s function returns is what method your surgeon uses to perform the surgery. Your doctor may recommend different procedures based on how much tissue needs to be removed to achieve the desired appearance.
Breast Surgery With or Without Nipple Graft
When approaching any kind of breast surgery, it is important to consider the incision method and how this affects the nipple. Some surgeons will actually alter the nipple placement of the patient during the surgery in order to achieve better symmetry or some other aesthetic effect. This is more common during surgeries that involve a large removal of tissue, such as a breast reduction, where the change of the breast’s shape would require more deliberate repositioning of the nipple.
When it comes to a simple breast lift, however, this “free nipple graft” is usually unnecessary, so the nipple remains attached to the breast throughout the entire procedure. This means that many of the nerves that attach the nipple to the milk duct are untouched and the glands remain much the same as they were prior to the surgery.
Talk With Your Doctor
If you are concerned about being able to feed an infant, make sure to be open about this with your doctor and discuss a surgery option that forgoes a free nipple graft. You will want to make sure that the milk duct stays connected, since this is the channel through which your breast milk will flow in the future.
You will also want to lean towards a surgery that does not require the removal of a lot of inner breast tissue, since these are the glands that produce milk after the baby is born. In a lot of cases, a breast lift is perfect for this because most of the tissue that is removed does not affect breastfeeding.
Can You Breast Feed After This Surgery?
In most cases, yes, women find that they are able to breastfeed once they have sufficiently healed from the surgery. Because this procedure doesn’t really disturb the actual mammary glands usually, you should be able to produce milk normally, assuming that you already had the ability to do so prior to the surgery.
In most cases, the nipple-areola complex is left basically intact, so most mothers won’t have a problem getting their babies to latch on. While there are usually small incisions around the border of the nipple, these heal quickly and should not affect your ability to breastfeed once you are fully recovered.
As discussed, this is a bigger concern only if you are having your nipples resized or completely relocated on your chest, which is not typical for this surgery.
Timing of Surgery and Pregnancy
Another factor in your ability to breastfeed after surgery is simply time. How long after your surgery will you be trying to breastfeed? Most of the basic recovery from surgery typically happens in a matter of weeks, but all the small nerves and blood vessels can take longer than that to fully reconnect.
Since a pregnancy and delivery can be a major life event, it is important to space it out reasonably after your surgery. Even if you can produce milk, the supply might be affected if the nerves are still connecting. Allowing a few years between the surgery and having a baby will give your body the time to recover its ability to produce a good supply of milk, which will make it far less likely that you’ll have any problems producing enough.
Once you are ready, you should be able to breastfeed and pump normally.
Things to Consider Before a Breast Lift
If you want to speed up your recovery and increase your chances of being able to breastfeed after your surgery, consider a few of these factors that can affect healing:
A nipple piercing can interfere with the circulation of blood to the nipple and areola, so while it’s all right to get your nipples pierced before breast surgery, you will need to work in some time for the piercings to fully heal. If you can avoid getting them pierced in the first place, or if you can wait until after you have recovered from surgery, this is even better.
If you’re having a procedure which involves repositioning the nipples entirely (a free nipple graft), then having piercings is not recommended, especially if you want to preserve some function.
Before and after any sort of surgery, it’s best if you quit smoking for a few weeks. Smoking has a negative effect on your circulation and can increase your recovery time. If you would like to give yourself the best chance of retaining the ability to breastfeed, then talking to your doctor about ways that you can let go of this habit a few months before your surgery is a good idea.
Once you are tobacco-free, your body becomes more efficient at carrying oxygen to your cells, which will help the nerves in your nipples and milk ducts reconnect, increasing the chances that you will be able to breastfeed with no problems.
Letting go of a smoking habit is also the healthiest option if you plan to become pregnant soon after your surgery. Pregnancy and recovery for non-smokers tends to go better than those who smoke.
Exercise and Rest
Having a regular fitness routine and a healthy diet can help you recover better from surgery as well. Walking, in particular, can help promote circulation in the blood vessels of your legs, which is extremely important after any surgery.
Have a talk with your doctor about what you can do to stay in good physical shape prior to the surgery, but also discuss what your options will be after surgery. Keep in mind that your movements may be limited for a short time after the procedure, so discuss these limits ahead of time to avoid overextending yourself.
Your doctor may also provide you with easy stretches and other soft movements you can incorporate in your day to make recovery smoother.
Keep Stress in Check
Stress can also affect the recovery process, so make sure you have a good support system in place before you have surgery. While breast lifts tend to be less invasive and easier to recover from than other types of breast surgeries, you will still need to set aside time to take it easy. Relaxing can promote better healing, which can indirectly affect your results.
How Can You Improve Milk Production?
After you have recovered for a sufficient amount of time and you decide to have a baby, what can you do to increase milk production if you’ve had surgery?
Breast Feed as Much as Possible
Your body will produce more milk if you regularly empty your milk ducts, so the best way to encourage milk production is simply to breastfeed your baby as much as possible in the first few weeks after delivery. Feed your baby until your breasts are completely empty, since this will signal to your body that it should make more.
Pump When You Can’t Breast Feed
If your baby is having trouble latching, use a breast pump to keep the milk flowing until you are able to breastfeed your child. As long as they are continually emptied, your mammary glands should continue to produce milk.
See a Lactation Expert
Consult a medical professional who is an expert in lactation if you have any questions about the specifics once you have had your baby. This person can help you navigate any bumps you find along the way and may even be able to recommend herbs or medicines that can promote milk production.
Conclusion: Is a Breast Lift Right for You?
For the vast majority of women, breastfeeding will still be a possibility after surgery. Since this procedure only affects superficial tissue of the breast and typically leaves the mammary glands and the inner workings of the nipple intact, it’s not a problem for most prospective mothers.
The key to breastfeeding after any kind of breast surgery is to choose a surgery that does not involve a free graft of the nipple. As long as the nipple can remain connected to the milk duct, then milk should flow just as it did before. Make sure to talk to your surgeon about what exact method they will use and ask them about what that will mean for your recovery time and milk production.
No matter what, patients should follow doctor’s instructions and practice good recovery habits. While most women can breastfeed after this type of surgery, it’s still important to allow the body time to heal, and waiting a few years before becoming pregnant is a good idea.
Consult With a Surgeon
If you plan to become a mother but are still curious about getting breast surgery, there’s no better way to get information than to consult a surgeon. Since every situation is different, only a doctor can answer the kinds of questions that vary from individual to individual. Contact the experts at Rios Center for Plastic Surgery in Edinburg, TX to schedule your initial consultation!