Lumps in the breast during breastfeeding are relatively common and often cause for concern. Although many times it is something easily solvable, such as a blocked duct, on other occasions it can be a more serious problem, so it is always important to consult a professional.
What is a galactocele?
A galactocele is a cyst of retained milk , an accumulation of milk in the form of a lump, of greater or lesser size. This lump is smooth and rounded, mobile; compressing it can cause milk to come out through the nipple.
It is a benign lesion almost exclusively found in pregnant or lactating women (more frequently appearing during weaning); They have also been seen after breast augmentation surgery . Although it may seem unusual, galactoceles are actually the most common palpable breast mass in breastfeeding mothers. I have scars on my abdomen and I am pregnant: what to take into account and how to take care of them.
Why does it occur?
It is believed to be caused by a blocked milk duct . At first, the content of the cyst is simply milk, but gradually the liquid is reabsorbed and the fatty part remains.
How is it diagnosed?
Although there are data that can indicate that it is a galactocele: painless lump, no fever or general poor condition, no changes in the skin (redness, increased temperature…) it is important that a professional diagnoses it through an imaging test , usually by ultrasound; it can also be seen on a mammogram.
How is it treated?
In some cases, galactoceles shrink on their own . If this does not happen and/or if they are annoying, they can be pricked and the content can be vacuumed. This technique is usually performed by a gynecologist guided by ultrasound. However, it is common for the lesion to refill with fluid, so several punctures may be needed throughout infancy.
It can also be removed by local surgery without the need to stop breastfeeding. Since it is a benign lesion, another option is to wait until weaning to remove it. When and how to return to exercise after giving birth.
In some (rare) cases, the galactocele may become infected and antibiotic treatment may then be necessary.
Does galactocele affect breastfeeding?
As we have mentioned, unless they become infected, galactoceles are benign, non-painful lesions that do not affect, as a general rule, breastfeeding .
Only in particular cases in which they are very large or located very close to the nipple and areola , can they be bothersome and/or they can compromise the ejection of milk and make it flow more slowly.
In the event that the mother finds it bothersome or milk ejection is difficult, she can, as we have seen, intervene (by puncture-aspiration or by surgery) without the need to wean.