How does breast reduction affect breastfeeding?

This seems like a silly question since I am only 22 and no where near having kids, however I am interested in getting a breast reduction.  I have had very large breasts since age 16 (I am a DD) and have always discussed with my parents about doing something about it.  They have agreed to pay for my breast reduction procedure because they know how much I am affected by large breasts.  I will be doing some research before I have the procedure but a main concern for me is breastfeeding.  Granted it will be 5-10 years from now, but will I still be able to breastfeed when I have children?  Thanks!


F, 24, California

This is a common yet difficult decision for many young women who suffer with particularly large breasts. The short answer is that there’s no way to predict whether breast reduction surgery will compromise your ability to breastfeed in the future.

During any breast reduction procedure breast glands can be reduced and milk ducts severed. The degree to which the procedure creates future breastfeeding problems is unknowable until you have children.

Keep in mind, however, that breastfeeding does not have to be a 100% solution. Many women who have had breast reduction surgery are able to breastfeed, at least partially. They supplement their infants nutrition with formula or additional donor milk from other breastfeeding mothers. Whether you find this to be an adequate breastfeeding experience is a personal decision only you can make.

We have had great success with breast reduction surgeries where the ability to breastfeed has been fully preserved. But the risk of potential future issues is real and must be considered on an individual basis. I encourage you to consult with a local board-certified plastic surgeon who has a proveable track record of successful breast reduction surgeries where the ability to breastfeed was preserved.

Dr. Neil Zemmel has 2 Breast reduction before & afters:

Breast reduction before image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction after image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction before image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction after image performed by Dr. Neil  Zemmel

» View Dr. Neil Zemmel's full profile

Unfortunately, breast reduction surgery, even in the hands of the most experienced surgeons, always includes potential risks to breastfeeding. There is no way to know in advance whether breast surgery will affect milk production.

During the surgery, some amount of breast tissue and glandular tissue is removed. Every effort is made to preserve blood supply and prevent nerve damage, but invariably some milk ducts are always cut. Many new moms who have had breast reduction surgery are still able to breastfeed, while others have low milk supply and must supplement their breast milk with formula. And of course there are some women who are unable to breastfeed at all.


The best recommendation is always to wait until after you have had children -- but the decision to have breast reduction surgery is a personal one and depends on your age, goals and quality-of-life issues that come with having large breasts.

My suggestion is to research the procedure carefully and consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon near you who has extensive experience with breast reduction surgery.

Dear User1209259,

Interesting name! Coincidentally, I just saw a patient yesterday. She is 31 years old and I performed a breast reduction on her when she was 20 (DDD down to a C cup). She has had one pregnancy since that surgery and successfully breast fed her child. I agree with Dr. Blinski that the only way to guarantee that a breast reduction will not affect your potential to breast feed is to not have it done until after you have kids. That said, breast feeding capability can be preserved but much depends on several factors. The larger the reduction, the more likely that enough breast tissue will be removed that will reduce this possibility. The technique matters too. I perform most breast reductions using a technique that preserves much of the central core of the breast, where many of the breast milk glands and ducts are located. In some very large breasts, the nipple must be removed totally from the breast before it is reduced, then replaced as a graft. In such cases, breast feeding will be impossible. You can check with a plastic surgeon to see what they think of the chances you will be able to breast feed after you have a reduction but realize that no one can guarantee this. Unless your large breast issues are intolerable, you might want to wait.

Richard T. Bosshardt, MD, FACS

Thank you for the question but even the presence of large breasts does not mean you will be able to produce enough milk to breast feed and certainly a reduction by whatever technique can affect your ability.  That said I have had many patients go on to breast feed just fine after

Dr Corbin


  So it's virtually impossible to determine if the breast reduction will impact your ability to nurse because only 1/3 of all women that have children are able to successfully breast feed without surgery so there is no good way to determine if the breast reduction will impair your ability to breast feed. I have had patients that have had no problem breast feeding after breast reduction and other who have had difficulty. Sorry there is no clear answer for you.

The Reason one may loose the ability for breastfeeding after breast reduction is the interruption of the milk ducts when the nipple is moved from it's lower position to a higher level. This however depends on the techniques for nipple transfer. If the nipple is left attached to it's underlying breast tissue the ability to breastfeeding is maintained. It is also more likely to maintain the sensation to the nipple. 

Best rule of thumb is expect NOT to be able to breast feed after a Breast Reduction. So if you are fixed upon breast feeding than wait til you are finished have children. It is all statistical %s. But if you want 100% guarantees than do not do the BR surgery..Regards Dr B