Very Sensitive Nipples After Breast Augmentation

I am 53 years old and had silicone implants 1 month ago. I am having very sensitive nipples, almost to the point of painful. Fabric hurts to touch them. What can you recomend? I have tried several creams and nothing seems to work. My doctor tells me it will ease in time.

Doctor Answers 48

Nipple hypersensitivity after breast augmentation

Hypersensitivity of the nipples is extremely common with breast augmentation and is a result of stretching or small injury to some of the nerves along the chest wall leading to the nipple. This will almost certainly get better and resolve in the next several months. My patients that have had this problem have found some relief by placing nipple "pasties" on the breasts. They can minimize the friction of the nipples rubbing on a bra or clothing and might give you at least some relief until the condition resolves itself. 

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

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Sensitive Nipples is Common After Breast Augmentation

Thank you for your question.

It is very common to experience hypersensitivity of the nipples after breast augmentation.

This will go away with time. It is caused by stretching of the nerves during surgery.

Massage breast to decrease sensitivity

Breast implants do put some tension or stretch on nerves that tends to cause irritation. The nerve to the nipple runs from the back around the side of the breast and up to the nipple.

For patients with nipple sensitivity after breast augmentation, I recommend using gauze pads or large bandaids to decrease the physical rubbing of clothes or bras directly on the nipple.

I also recommend massaging the lateral or outside aspect of the breast and ribs, which compresses the nerve before the area that is being stretched. The nerve then senses the pressure of the massage rather than the pain of the pulling.

This will get better in time so hang in there.

Brian J. Lee, MD
Fort Wayne Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Nipples Sensitive 1 Month Following Breast augmentation

Increased nipple sensation following breast augmentation can occur and almost always goes away. Because you mention that both nipples are affected, I believe that the same healing process is occurring in both. During the course of the procedure the sensory nerves to the breast may become swollen or stretched, occasionally  resulting  in hypersensitivity of these nerves to the nipples. Over time the breast swelling dissipates and the hypersensitivity spontaneously resolves.  In the meanwhile, you can place soft nursing pads in your bra for comfort.

Nipple hypersensitivity after augmentation mammaplasty

This is very common and has probably peaked.

I have noted that most patients experience this at approximately 10 days to 3 weeks after surgery.

It is due to the stretching of the nerves (neuropraxia) and will resolve as the nerve relaxes. In research, we know we can stretch nerves and they will grow, as they do this they become less taut and less sensitive.

This is common for any part of the body and physical therapists commonly perform desenstization exercises to help diminish the discomfort.

Your physician is correct in that it tends to resolve and I suspect you have experienced the worst of it at this point in time. Implant displacement exercises, while initially painful, may help to stretch and evenutally relax the nerve; ask your surgeon about this.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Excessive nipple sensitivity almost always goes away.

Hi! Sometimes during breast augmentation, the principal nerve to the nipples (the lateral cutanous branch of the 4th intercostal nerve) gets stretched or bruised. While the nerve is healing, you can have too much, too little, or abnormal (pins and needles) sensation in your nipples.

Sensation usually returns to normal in a few months. I have done many hundreds of breast augmentations, and have had only one patient that I know of in whom this problem remained permanent.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Sensitive Nipples After Breast Augmenation

Your concern is quite common following breast augmentation.  It is because the nerve that controls sensation is stretched and hence irritated and it will calm down with time.  There are no creams that help.  Basically you need to cover them until the sensation becomes bearable and then you should actually gently massage them.  Yes massage them.  Even though that's the last thing you feel like doing the nerve will desensitize if you stimulate it rather than ignore it. If you simply ignore it, the discomfort will take longer to diminish.

Hang in there.

Hope that helps

Dr Rahban

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Dysesthesia (Nipple Sensitivity) Usually Resolves Within 6-8 Wks Following Breast Augmentation. Massage May Help the Discomfort

Patients who undergo breast augmentation often complain of pain, swelling, and nipple hypersensitivity. These are normal findings immediately following surgery, and usually resolve with time.
The hypersensitivity that you describe is known as a dysesthesia. It’s very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep. This phenomena occurs when nerves are compressed or stretched. During and after breast augmentation surgery, the breast implant actually simultaneously stretches and compresses the nerves. In many cases, this is made worse by swelling.
Patients typically describe a tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, clothing rubbing against the nipple areola can elicit a pins and needles sensation.
These symptoms usually resolve in about 6 to 8 weeks without intervention. In some cases, aggressive massage can desensitize the area and minimize the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Sensitive nipples

This is not uncommon and can be minimized by covering the nipples. At some point, desensitization should be done by actually touching the nipple areolar complex to desensitize it.  

Re: Hypersensitive nipples after breast augmentation

Dear Marshlotto,

Thank you for your question.

Changes in sensation to this area after a breast augmentation is often seen. 
I have found over the years that a patient can find either an increased or diminished sensation early on after the procedure.

Although it can become persistent, typically after the initial few weeks the sensation should normalize.

I find that once the swelling decreases and the tissue becomes more supple a return to baseline occurs. 
This can be optimized by gentle massaging of the area.  If uncomfortable, the use of gauze pads can help during this initial period.

Patience is important and also follow up with your surgeon.

Thank you,

S. P. Maggi, MD, FACS
Austin Plastic Surgery Center

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.