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 (8)

Numb nipple

+1
Thank you for your post. In general, most women who have a disturbance in nipple sensation, whether it be less (hypo-sensation), or in some cases too much (hyper-sensation), the sensation goes back to normal with 3-6 months. Occasionally, it can take 1 - 2 years to be normal. Extremely rare, the sensation never goes back to normal. This is extremely rare in augmentation alone, more common in lift or reduction but less with a smaller lift like a crescent lift. Signs that sensation is coming back are needle type sensation at the nipple, itchiness at the nipple, or 'zingers' to the nipple. The number of women that lose sensation is much lower than 10%, closer to 1% in a simple augmentation. In some cases the same occurs with contraction where some women have no contraction and some women have a constant contraction of the nipples. Unfortunately there is no surgical correction for this. Massaging the area can help sensation normalize faster if it is going to normalize, but will not help if the nerve does not recover. In women with hyper-sensitive nipples, this will go away with time in most cases. Usually 3 months or so. In the interim, I have them wear nipple covers or 'pasties' to protect them from rubbing. It is unlikely that down-sizing the implant will cause regaining sensation. Down-sizing the implant may cause saggy breasts, however, and may necessitate a breast lift. Physical therapy with de-sensitivity techniques can help with this issue. The Peri-areolar incision is associated with increased risk of nipple numbness due to the fact that the nerve is in close proximity.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD


Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Nipple numbness after breast reduction?

+1
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!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast Reduction and Nipple Numbness?

+1

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 753 reviews

You might also like...

Nipple sensation

+1

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

VIDEO (click here): Breast reduction

+1

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
Midlothian Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 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

+1

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

Robert N. Young, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 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.