I've had my implants for 1 year and 8 months. I have 350cc's saline under the muscle, put through the areola. I still have a lot of numbness and both of my nipples have maybe 10% feeling. After this long do you think it's permanent? Also what do you think happened that caused me to experience so much numbness? I would say I have about 30% numbness on my entire breast.
Numbness After Breast Augmentation
Doctor Answers 29
Unfortunately, your sensory loss following breast augmentation is most likely permanent.
Permanent sensory changes following breast augmentation is a real potential complication. The three year incidence for all levels of severity (mild to severe) is reported to be 10%. At 18 months following your breast augmentation, the sensory loss that you are experiencing is most likely permanent.
Thanks for your question.
Relative size of implant is important
The size of the implant relative to the size of your breast is the most important determinant of sensory changes, particularly numbness. If you place a large (width-wise) implant into a small breast, the nerves supplying the breast and nipple are more likely to be injured, traumatized, or stretched. The smaller the implant, the less dissection required relative to the base of the breast, and the lower the likelihood that nerves innervating the breast from the periphery of the breast will be disturbed.
Numbness after breast augmentation?
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!
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After a year, recovery is unlikely
If you have not had much recovery of sensation a year after surgery, it is unlikely that much more will occur, although it is possible. It really depends on where the sensory nerves to the nipple were affected by the surgery (nerves grow very slowly- 1mm per day).
Unfortunately, changes in sensation are a bit more common with the peri-areolar approach.
Numbness After Breast Augmentation
There is a low percentage rate of patients (less than 5%) who lose sensation after breast augmentation surgery. Some patients report numbness for a few months and then their sensation returns. Sometimes loss of sensation is permanent. Results may vary from patient to patient depending on the severity and complexity of your case (the larger the implant and/or the more involved the procedure the greater the risk).
There is also a risk of hyper-sensitivity (usually temporary).
I hope this helps.
Pablo Prichard, MD
Loss of Sensation Following Breast Augmentation
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 five percent 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.
The problem seems to occur more frequently when larger implants are used. This tends to stretch the 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.
Numbness 20 months after breast augmentation is likely permanent.
Permanent numbness like you have experienced after breast augmentation occurs infrequently. The causes can be related to varying degrees of sensory nerve damage (stretching, overheating, or actual direct nerve disruption). The causes and the frequency of these sensory changes has also been discussed by my colleagues previously.
Patients who note decreased sensation in their breasts immediately after surgery, often experience very slow but encouraging return of sensation with time. It is likely that this recovery may take weeks to months.
When your recovery of sensation has halted (the breasts feel the same for months) and your surgery is over 18 months prior, it is not likely that any further significant improvement will occur.
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.