Ways to Preserve Normal Sensation After Breast Augmentation

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Medical literature has suggested that permanent loss of sensation after breast augmentation surgery is notably low, around 1 to 5 percent.  Nevertheless, temporary numbness and hypersensitivity are not uncommon during recovery and are expected to resolve as the body recovers from the surgical trauma.

In the event that sensation-related problem occurs, it often affects the cleavage (i.e., area between the breasts); it usually gets better with time.  Numbness in the nipple, meanwhile, is considered to be more problematic especially if it does not improve in three to six months because it is most likely to be permanent, potentially affecting breastfeeding in the future.

While there is no 100 percent guaranty that loss of sensation or hypersensitivity can be avoided, there are ways to significantly reduce such risk. The list below explains these techniques.

  • Use breast implants that are within the confines of the body.  By respecting the underlying anatomies, specifically the chest and breast width, the nerves will not be overly stretched or displaced and there will be less dissection for the “pocket,” thus reducing the risk of sensation-related problems after breast augmentation.  Overlarge implants, meanwhile, are more “disruptive” and tend to increase the risk of wrinkling, palpability, and implant displacement.
  • Have the surgery performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. Board certification—specifically from the American Board of Plastic Surgery—is an indication that a doctor is uniquely qualified to execute plastic surgeries.
  • Stay away from the peri-areolar technique or “through the nipple.”  Other incision sites such as the inframammary fold (breast crease), TUBA (navel), and trans-axillary (underarm) are good alternatives if the patient expresses her desire to minimize risk of numbness.  But even with these methods, there is no guaranty that sensation-related can be prevented completely.
  • Use the submuscular breast implant placement.  Some studies have suggested that placing the prosthesis below the muscle has a lower risk of sensation-related problem compared with subglandular or “overs.” The theory is that “unders” has a lower incidence of nerve disturbance.
  • Massage. Proponents of breast massage suggest that it can encourage nerves to repair themselves or at least accelerate the process.   Oftentimes, patients are advised to start with a gentle “finger touch” and then gradually applying pressure without causing a significant amount of discomfort.
  • Wait for the body to heal. Numbness and hypersensitivity are not uncommon after breast augmentation, although for the vast majority of patients they will resolve on their own, usually in three to six months. But if the problem persists for a year, most likely it is a long-lasting issue. 
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Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon