Nipple Numbness After Breast Reduction

I had a breast reduction a few days ago and I went back to the dr for a check up and he rubbed my L nipple and asked if I could feel and I said no. Then he rubbed the R nipple and I told him yes. Then he said my Left nipple feeling would come back. How can he know this for sure? If the feeling does come back, when does it usually happen?

Doctor Answers (7)

Nipple numbness after breast reduction?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.  It is a reported 7% risk for sensation changes with breast reduction.

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast Reduction and Nipple Numbness?

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Thank you for the question.

Although numbness of the nipple/areola is a known complication of most types of breast surgery,  often the numbness is temporary.  It may take several months or up to one year before sensation returns.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 707 reviews

Nipple sensation

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It is quite common for patients to have some numbness after bresat surgery. This is usually due to swelling. In most cases it will return.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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No one can answer this definitively but odds are that it will come back because it is statistically likely.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast reduction

+1

 During a breast reduction the nerves innervating the skin of the breast as well as the nipple can be disturbed or damaged, causing "numbness" to those areas.  You may also experience sensations of hot and cold or tingling which are all normal.  Nerves regenerate slowly so patience is the key.  There is a small chance that the lack of sensation to your nipple is permanent. Give it a couple of months and you will have a more accurate idea if this will get better. I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Neil J. Zemmel, MD

Neil J. Zemmel, MD, FACS
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Nipple numbness with breast surgery

+1

It is possible that the nerve to the nipple can be permanently damaged during breast reduction surgery. However, this is not usually the case.  More frequently, any sensory changes are temporary.  This is true for numbness or hypersensitivity.  Nerve repair is very slow, but you should detect gradual return of sensation beginning in just a few months, though complete repair may take a year or longer.  There is nothing you can do to speed the process.

R. Samuel Bryant, MD
Lincoln Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Nipple Numbness after Breast Reduction

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Nipple numbness is usually temporary.  Feeling in the nipple should return within a year, if not sooner. 

Robert N. Young, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.