Benign breast disease is very common in women of child-bearing age. In fact, about one million women are diagnosed with a benign breast condition, such as breast cysts or benign tumors, every year. As a result, many of these women will need breast surgery. Even though there has been concern whether this type of surgery would reduce a woman’s ability to breastfeed successfully, few studies have researched this question.

Now: There is good news for women with benign breast conditions and their health care providers, according to a new study that was presented at the 2020 meeting of the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.

Study details: In a study of 85 women ages 18 to 45, researchers compared the breastfeeding experiences of those who had been diagnosed and treated for a benign breast condition with those who had not. Using a questionnaire, the subjects reported on their ability to breastfeed and their overall satisfaction with breastfeeding. The amount of time after giving birth ranged from six weeks to several years.

Of the 85 women, 15 reported benign breast disease before breastfeeding. Their symptoms included cysts, benign growths and enlarged breasts. Sixteen women reported surgery for a breast condition prior to breastfeeding. The surgeries included biopsies of cysts or removal of benign growths, breast-reduction surgery and breast-augmentation surgery.

Regardless of whether they had previous breast surgery, all women in the study reported about an 80% success rate for breastfeeding or pumping enough milk for bottle feeding. Overall satisfaction for breastfeeding was about the same in all women.

Conclusion: While the researchers are continuing to gather information on the effects of surgery for benign breast conditions prior to breastfeeding, their hope is that the results of this research and subsequent findings will reassure women and their doctors that breast surgery should not be withheld if it benefits a young woman of child-bearing age.

Source: Study titled“Breastfeeding Capability After Benign Breast Surgery,” by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, presented as a clinical poster at the virtual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2020.

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