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Can Nipple Surgery Affect Feeling or Sensitivity?

Is nipple sensitivity ever affected by implant or nipple surgery? I'm considering silicone breast implants and a nipple reduction, but I'd rather not lose sensation in my breasts.

Doctor Answers (13)

Nipple sensation and breast surgery

+2

Breast augmentation or nipple surgery can certainly reduce nipple sensitivity, although the vast majority of patients have surgery without this problem.

Even in very experienced hands it is possible to lose sensation to the nipples. It is best to consult with board certified plastic surgeons with interest in breast surgery because those surgeons know where the nerves are and how best to avoid them. They also understand the balance between achieving the best results and minimizing the disruption to normal tissues.


Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

Can nipple surgery affect feeling or sensitivity?

+1
Hello! Thank you for your question! Your symptoms sound like your nerves regenerating. Breast procedures such as the breast augmentation and breast lift/reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts. With any breast procedure there is a risk, albeit very small, of change in sensation to the area. The reported rate of sensation changes (decreased, loss, or increased) is ~7% for lift/reductions and much smaller for breast augmentation. In my experience, this rate is reportedly much lower, but is higher when tissue is excised or the amount of lift that is needed, so the breast reduction procedure has a slightly greater risk. It can take up to a year for full sensation to return. Re-educating your nerves to these areas by using different textures when showering and putting on lotion often helps.

It is one risk of such a procedure, and one that you must consider, amongst others, as with any surgical procedure. You should consult with a plastic surgeon well-trained in breast procedures who will examine and discuss with you the various risks and benefits of the procedure(s) and assist you in deciding if such a procedure will be the right decision for you.

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Nipple sensitivity

+1
Dear Eva,
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.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

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Yes, any surgery to your breast can affect the sensation to your nipples.

+1

Yes, any surgery to your breast can affect the sensation to your nipples.

Breast enlargements are unlikely to cause any changes to your nipple but decreased sensation can occur in a small majority of cases.

Other procedures such as breast uplift and breast reduction are more likely to cause alterations in nipple sensitivity.

Nipple reduction surgery again can cause alterations in sensation of your nipples and you need to bear this in mind if you're considering any surgery to this area.

I would advice to you to discuss these issues fully with your surgeon prior to any potential surgery so that you know the risks and potential for changes in sensitivity following any procedure.

Thanks for your enquiry, I do wish you the best of luck if you do decide to go ahead with treatment.

Best wishes yours sincerely,

Adrian Richards

Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon

Surgical Director of Aurora Clinics

Adrian Richards, MD
London Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Nipple reduction surgery and sensory loss

+1

There are ways to perform nipple reduction surgery to minimize sensory loss.  I would begin with the implants and stage the nipple reduction. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Nipple sensation after surgery

+1

In my experience with numerous nipple size reduction (height and width) I have never encountered a loss of sensation, though there is a small chance of permanent sensory loss after breast augmentation. On the other hand areola reduction during breast augmentation called the "dough-nut mastopexy" may leave very poor scars and can flatten the normal projection of the breasts.

Ivan Thomas, MD (retired)
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Importance of Nipple Sensitivity

+1

Any incision around the nipple (projected tissue) - and the areola (the flatter circular part) can result in alteration of nipple sensitivity.  This is a very important consideration when one is considering breast augmentation, reduction or lifting procedure.   When the sensation is altered, it is more often decreased.  However, there are a few cases of hypersensitivity, usually an uncomfortable feeling that normally improves over many months.  Make sure you go over the various options for the incisions, and their pros and cons with your plastic surgeon prior to undergoing a procedure.

Marc DuPéré, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Nipple sensation after surgery

+1

 

It is possible to have an alteration of nipple sensation or sensitivity after breast surgery. The nipple receives nervous that exit between the ribs and enter the nipple. If these nerves are stretched or cut the sensation to the nipple may be changed, reduced, or absent. It is best to wait for a period of 6 to 8 months after the surgery to determine if the sensation will return back to normal.

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Nipple sensitivity after breast aug

+1

Thanks for your question.

It is possible for a patient to lose sensation from any kind of breast surgery, including breast augmentation. The incidence of this numbness is rare and the incidence of permanent numbness is even more unusual. It is also possible for your nipples to become more sensitive after the procedure. Like numbness, permanent changes are unusual.

Nipple reduction surgery involves greater risk of post-op sensation change.

In our San Francisco area practice we've never had permanent sensation changes after an aug or nipple reduction. Previous surgery to the area increases the risk somewhat.

Find a board certified surgeon and discuss the issue in detail.

I hope this helps!

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Loss of nipple sensitivity

+1

Yes, any incision can reduce sensitivity. In this case you are talking about two different levels of injury.

Implants can interefere with nipple sensation due to compression or transection of nerves with implant placement. The effect of incision choice on nipple sensitivity is controversial. More recently the size of the implant has been correlated more closely with loss of nipple sensitivity in comparison to incision placement.

Placing a scar directly on the nipple itself may also directly interfere with nipple sensitivity. Discuss your concerns with your surgeon.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 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.