Ask a doctor

What Are the Stats on Loss of Nipple Sensitivity After Breast Reduction Surgery?

I am 5ft 3" and a 32G cup and 43 years old. I am considering breast reduction surgery to relieve back, neck and shoulder pains but am very reluctant due to the chances of losing nipple sensation. This is a huge erogenous zone for me, and I can't seem to find any statistics regarding this particular complication/side-effect. Any advice/personal experience would be much appreciated.

Doctor Answers (12)

Good surgical technique preserves nipple sensation after breast reduction.

+2

Hi.

Loss of sensation should be very rare. Occasionally we see temporary reduction in feeling. During surgery, nerves to the nipples need to be preserved.


Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Stats on Loss of Nipple Sensitivity After Breast Reduction

+2

In medical studies the loss of sensitivity of the nipple/areolar complex following breast reduction surgery is around 7%. But the larger the reduction or removed amount can effect these %'s to the worse side. Seek in person opinions. But I always tell my patient it is a chance that it will happen, so if you want a 100% guarantee than do not do the operation. Also, if pre op the sensitivity is low than the chances really increase for having numbness. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Risk of Nipple Numbness after Breast Reduction

+2

Regarding: " Loss of Nipple Sensitivity After Breast Reduction Surgery?
I am 5ft 3" and a 32G cup and 43 years old. I am considering breast reduction surgery to relieve back, neck and shoulder pains but am very reluctant due to the chances of losing nipple sensation. This is a huge erogenous zone for me, and I can't seem to find any statistics regarding this particular complication/side-effect. Any advice/personal experience would be much appreciated
."

Sensation of the nipple is carried by specialized small branches of the 5th rib (intercostal) nerve. The vast majority of large breasted women have poor to no sensation in the nipple and areola due to chronic traction injuries to these nerves. You happen to be an exception. The reason you have a hard time getting a figure on numbness after breast reduction is that many women are numb or have reduced sensation before surgery and that potential damage to these nerve branches, if sensation is normal, would depend on what breast reduction technique is used to make the breast smaller.  Any technique removing tissue from the lower and side of the breast risks doing damage to it.

In my hands the numbness rate has been extremely low after this operation. But that is not important. What is important is that you need to carefully ask yourself are you willing to put up with the pain and limitations of 32G sized breasts (which will not get better as you get older) OR are you willing to risk numbness? IF the risk of numbness was 1%, would you accept it? How about 4%? In my opinion, those numbers are quite misleading because if you happen to be in that 1% or 4% group, the rate becomes meaningless because your numbness is 100%. It is all about potential benefit and risk tolerance. If you are not willing to risk it, do NOT have the surgery.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

You might also like...

What are the stats on loss of nipple sensitivity after breast reduction surgery?

+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. After that time, chances are small that it will improve.

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

Breast Reduction & Nipple Sensitivity

+1

There are many different ways to perform a breast reduction. The risk for loss of feeling to the nipple areolar complex differs, to some degree, from one technique to the next. There are steps your surgeon can take to help minimize the risk of loss of sensitivity to the nipple. The incidence of loss of nipple sensitivity probably varies, depending on the procedure, from 10-50%.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

Decreased Nipple Areola Sensation Occurs in 5-15% of Breast Reduction Patients

+1

Although breast reduction is considered a safe operative procedure, occasionally complications do occur. Decreased nipple areola sensation reportedly occurs in five to fifteen percent of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery.

This complication appears to be related to the surgical technique used and the amount of tissue removed from the breast. In cases where large amounts of breast tissue are removed, there’s a higher incidence of decreased sensation. In addition, surgical techniques that remove breast tissue inferiorly near the breast fold are also associated with an increased incidence of numbness.

The vast majority of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery, report high satisfaction rates even when sensation is decreased. In these cases, resolution of the symptoms associated with breast hypertrophy, are the priority. In some patients, nipple areola sensation is very important. Since there is no way to guarantee normal sensation, patients in this group should proceed cautiously with breast reduction.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Nipple Sensation and Breast Reduction

+1

With all surgeries come possible risks and complications. Unfortunately with breast reduction surgery loss of nipple sensation is a possibility, although the chances are low, between 4% and 15%, it must be considered as a possibility. Good luck.

Miguel Delgado, Jr., MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Breast Reduction and Loss of Sensation?

+1
Thank you for the question.
Breast reduction surgery is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform for patients with symptomatic breast hypertrophy. Of course, like with any operation, patients and surgeons must weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks/ complications associated with the procedure.
A loss of nipple/areola sensation rate of 5 to 15% with  breast reduction surgery is probably accurate.
I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 726 reviews

Loss of nipple or sensation

+1

The loss of sensation is certainly more common. I think studies report abot a 15% permanent change in sensation long term. AS for nipple loss, this is very rare.

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

Risk of loss of nipple sensation wtih breast reduction

+1

The risk of loss of nipple sensation wtih breast reduction can vary in studies. And I have seen numbers rangeing from 4 -16%.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 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.