Will I Definitely Lose Feeling in my Nipples After a Reduction?

I am scheduled for a consultation in a few weeks for a breast reduction. I have been doing my research and the only concern I have is loss of sensation. Is this something that is inevitable? Do I really have to give this up in order to have smaller breasts? I will go ahead because I know the pro's out weigh the cons but it all actuality it makes me sad to think about.

Doctor Answers (12)

Nipple sensation after breast reduction

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Loss of nipple sensation is not inevitable except with a free nipple graft (and I reserve this for patients with extremely significant ptosis or sagging--usually accompanied by huge breasts--in the F+ range). Temporary decrease in sensation is common and this abates in an overwhelming majority of patients over time. Breast reduction is a terrific operation with an extraordinarily high level of patient satisfaction because it will not only improve your cosmetic appearance but alleviate neck, back and shoulder pain and rashes under the breasts. If your breasts are only marginally larger than you'd like, then the issue of decreased sensation becomes a more significant consideration than in patients with gigantic breasts. Regardless, it's great to see a patient who is doing a lot of homework prior ot the consultation!


New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Small Percentage Of Nipple Sensation Loss After Reduction

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It certainly is not inevitable that you will lose your nipple sensation with a breast reduction, unless you have a free nipple-areolar graft in which case there is always loss of sensation.  With other techniques you chance of loss of nipple sensation should be relatively low (<4-5%).  Consult a BC plastic surgeon with whom you can discuss benefits/risks.

John Whitt, MD
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Loss of Sensation...

+2

Most patients who have a standard breast reduction maintain sensation as long as a free nipple graft is not performed. Loss of sensation is always a risk, but as you note, the benefits usually outweigh those risks. Good Luck!

Brian Klink, MD
Vacaville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

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Loss of sensation

+2

To-Date I have not seen a patient who experienced complete loss of nipple sensation.  In some instances, one or both nipples may had added sensation or may experience temporary loss but typicall during the first 3-6 mos post-op most patients will have resumed normal nipple sensation

Edward J. Bednar, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Breast Reduction and Loss of Sensation?

+2

Thank you for the question.

Congratulations on your decision to proceed with breast reduction surgery; it is one of the most patient pleasing operations would perform.

The majority of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery will have normal sensation after the procedure. Only the  rare patient that requires “free nipple grafting” will  always have loss of sensation.

Again, most patients who present with neck/back/shoulder discomfort symptoms associated with breast hypertrophy are very pleased with the results of breast reduction surgery.

Please make sure you consult with well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 781 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast reduction

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Some patients may notice a decrease in nipple sensation. This is often a temporary issue that resolves on its own, but can also be permanent. Therefore, there is no guarantee that you'll lose sensation but it is a risk that you should consider.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Will I definitely lose feeling in my nipples after a breast reduction?

+1
Hello! Thank you for your question! Breast procedures such as the breast lift and breast reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts along with raising of the nipple-areolar complex to an appropriate position. Since there is an incision made around the areola along with some rearrangement of tissue of the breast, 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%. 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 sensation to return.  It may take up to a year to regain sensation.

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 12 reviews

Nipple sensation loss

+1

As you mentioned in you question, benefits are more than the risks. In general after a breast reduction the chances of sensation loss immediately after surgery is around 20%, most of this patients will recover the sensation over the coming months, the rate for permanent loss of sensation is less than 5%. So most likely you will be ok after surgery.

Good luck

Victor M. Perez, MD, FACS
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Nipple sensation following breast reduction surgery

+1

The nerves that provide sensation to the breast  come up from between the ribs all around the breast.    Since a breast reduction involves the removal of breast tissue as well as reshaping it is certainly possible for there to be a change in nipple sensation.  The procedure is designed to allow for sensation but it is certainly something that can not be guaranteed and must come into the discussion of risks vs. benefits.   A thorough discussion with your plastic surgeon will help you make a decision that is correct for you.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Breast reduction and sensation

+1

It is unlcear why some lose sensation while others do not. It could be from stretching or the sensory nerves or by actually cutting them. It is not common to see them during surgery.  Be that as it may, most people have some sensory changes after surgery that improves in the first 6-8 weeks. About 85% have normal sensation after one year.

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