Having surgery for benign breast conditions won't harm a woman's future ability to breastfeed, new research suggests.
The study included 85 women, aged 18 to 45. Fifteen had a prior history of benign breast conditions, including cysts, benign tumors and enlarged breasts. Sixteen had had breast surgery, including breast augmentation, reduction mammoplasty and biopsy.
Whether they'd had surgery or not, 80% were able to breastfeed or obtain breast milk for bottle-feeding, according to findings presented Saturday at a virtual meeting of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Each year, nearly one million women in the United States are diagnosed with benign breast conditions. About half of women will have a benign breast lesion in their lifetime.
Many of these conditions are managed with surgery. Other common breast procedures include surgery to reduce enlarged breast tissue or augmentation for asymmetry or developmental breast conditions.
"Pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists who refer teenage patients for treatment of breast conditions, as well as parents, are concerned that surgery may impact breast development and eventual lactation," said study co-author Laura Nuzzi, clinical research manager at Boston Children's Hospital.
There is limited research on how surgery for benign breast conditions may affect later breastfeeding. The authors are continuing their research in this area, they noted in an ACS news release.
Study co-author Shannon Malloy is a clinical research associate in the hospital's Adolescent Breast Clinic.
Malloy said, "We hope to augment the conclusions from this study that suggest plastic reconstructive surgeons, primary care practitioners, and any provider who comes in contact with women who have a benign breast condition can reassure them that an operation for a benign breast condition is safe and should not preclude them from enjoying the benefits of surgery for fear of impairing future breastfeeding satisfaction and lactation."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on breastfeeding.