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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 (11)

Nipple sensation and breast surgery


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 90 reviews

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


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


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 46 reviews

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Nipple sensation after surgery


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)
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Importance of Nipple Sensitivity


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



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 58 reviews

Nipple sensitivity after breast aug


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 21 reviews

Loss of nipple sensitivity


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 41 reviews

Nipple sensory changes after surgery


With every breast surgery there is a chance nipple sensation will be altered. If nerves are stretched (such as with an augmentation), you can become hypersensitive or less sensitive than normal, and even loose sensation in severe cases. Nerves generally recover from stretch injury, so with time things tend to return to normal. Operations that have longer incisions or remove tissue are at risk for dividing nerves, and in this case you may have permanent numbness. The nerves that supply the nipple come from all directions, and not everyone has the same distribution, so there is a random chance aspect related to sensory loss. If you are talking about areola reduction, I would not be overly worried about sensory loss, but it is still a possibility.


Michael A. Bogdan, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Sensation loss is usually temporary


Sensation to the nipple comes by way of nerves that enter the breast tissue from the outer aspect by the ribs. When the implant is put into place the tissue along the outside of the pocket is stretched and the nerves are often stretched as well. This nerve stretch is the cause of sensation changes. Since the nerves are not cut the nerves can recover and return to normal. This could take several months depending on how much stretch the nerves sustained.

The nipple reduction should not cause a loss of sensation because the nerves come from below and would not be cut by the incision.

Permanet loss of sensation is possible but not very likely.

Marcus L. Peterson, MD
Saint George Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 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.