How Long Can It Take for Nipple Sensation to Come Back After Breast Augmentation

Doctor Answers 19

How Long Can It Take for Nipple Sensation to Come Back After Breast Augmentation?

Sensation of the nipple and the areola are conducted via the Fourth Intercostal branch. The nerve branch emerges from under the 4th rib approximately at a point where a perpendicular line from the anterior armpit fold crosses the 4th rib and travels under the skin to the areola. Placing of large implants (especially over the muscle) and blunt blind dissection of the side pocket may injure the nerve. The vast majority of numbness is temporary but in as many as 15% of women the numbness can be permanent. For this reason it is important to tell all women receiving breast implants that they may be risking permanent nipple numbness.

Dr. Peter A Aldea

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Nipple Sensation Loss

Although the risk of permanent sensation loss is very low, it is possible to see temporary sensation changes that take 3-6 months to return.   I typically warn patients that the larger the implant that is placed, the higher the risk of sensation changes.     This is because the sensory nerve to the nipple and areola will be stretched by the implant.    The good news is that most cases stretch injury to the nerve results are temporary.

I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast augmentation

It can take up to one year for nipple sensation to return after a breast augmentation, but usually it returns sooner-in months. The chance of permanently losing nipple sensation is between 10-15%. It is very common however to have some numbness immediately after surgery due to inflammation and stretching of the nerves.

Best wishes,


William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 239 reviews

Nipple Sensation

It usually is back within 6months to a year. It is present roughly 10% of the time. Sensation can sometimes return with a vengience, sharp pain . Some times the nipple can feel like an electric shock when the nerve is waking up.  Good Luck.

Loss and return of nipple sensation following a breast augmentation

In general, return of most of the sensation of the nipple occurs by 4 - 6 months with maximal return taking up to one year. A very small percentage may even take up to 2 years.

The risk for either temporary or permanent loss of sensation is greatest when the implants are placed above the muscle and/or they are extremely large (wide).  Realistically, it is very rare for a patient to have total and permanent loss of sensation when appropriate surgical technique is employed.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast augmentation

Losing nipple sensation is a risk with breast augmentation, though permanent loss occurs in a small minority of women. Nipple sensation may return over weeks and months, and may even improve over years. If a nipple remained completely numb over a year or more, however, it would most likely not return.

Return of sensation depends on what was done

Nipple sensation comes from a branch of the fourth intercostal nerve, which emerges beneath your fourth rib on your side and runs forward, over the muscle, and then goes out to the nipple.  In general, if the implants were submuscular (and therefore one tissue layer away), the change in sensation should be less and recover quicker.

Either way, over or under the muscle, your sensation can progressively improve for months.  A permanent diminution is possible but unlikely, and if it occurs, it must be so slight that patients don't care, because (although I discuss the possibility preoperatively) most patients never ask about sensation afterward.

Good luck.

Mark B. Constantian, MD, FACS
Nashua Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Plan on 3-6 months, but up to a year...

Although breast augmentation is a relatively safe operative procedure, occasionally complications can occur.Loss of sensation is a recognized complication of breast augmentation and can occur in about 5% of patients.Loss of sensation may involve the breast skin or, in more serious cases, the actual nipple areola complexes.In the vast majority of cases, it’s a transient phenomenon that resolves with time but, in some cases, it may be permanent.In most cases, sensation returns in 3 to 6 months but, in rare cases, may take up to a year to return.
The problem seems to occur more frequently when larger implants are used.This tends to stretch nerves and compress them as well, resulting in loss of sensation.It’s important that you discuss this issue thoroughly with your plastic surgeon before proceeding with breast augmentation.Although relatively rare, there’s no question that loss of nipple areola sensation can potentially occur with this procedure.

How Long Can It Take for Nipple Sensation to Come Back After Breast Augmentation

 Generally speaking, most patients regain  lost sensation within the first year after surgery, if return of sensation  is  going to happen. Unfortunately, if loss of sensation is permanent, there are no surgical or nonsurgical modalities that are helpful. Best wishes.

No Nipple Sensation

Dear Nosensation,
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 normally. Extremely rarely, the sensation never goes back to normal. This is extremely rare in augmentation alone, more common in lift or reduction. 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. 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. usually 3 months or so. In the interim, I have them wear nipple covers or 'pasties' to protect them from rubbing.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 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.