How Can I Tell if a Nerve was Cut During a Breast Implant Revision? (photo)

I got a breast augmentation surgery on Nov,2010. left side never drop.Doctor told me he has to operate again to make the pocket bigger than what it was for implant to drop. I had second surgery on may 3, 2011 just left side, now I have left side bigger that the right. He told me I need another surgery to refill the right side to make it even. I have mentor 325cc final fill 390cc. I have pain on my left breast. went for second opinion. they told me maybe a nerve got cut. my nipple is numb. what can I do?

Doctor Answers 4

Loss of Nipple Sensation

Loss of nipple sensation is not unusual after breast augmentations and is a known side effect of the surgery. Most of the time the numbness is temporary and feeling returns in a few weeks or months. However, it can also be permanent. The loss of sensation occurs due to injury of the very small nerve that supplies the nipple. It is very difficult to tell if it was stretched or cut since both can result in the same symptoms.

Princeton Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Nerve issue after breast augmentation


The nerves that travel within the breast and supply the nipple/areola are very small and hard to differentiate from the surrounding fat/breast tissue.  You may have numbness from stretching of the nerve or from cutting of the nerve but it would be essentially impossible to see the nerve via a lower breast fold incision and to allow its repair.  At this point, with regards to he nerve issue, you are better to just massage and wait.  There is a chance that it may come back.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Breast Augmentation and Nipple Numbness

Thank you for the question and pictures.

Unfortunately,  what you are experiencing is a known complication of breast augmentation surgery. Whether the nerve was “cut”  cannot be known with any certainty;  however, based on your description it has been temporarily or permanently  effected by the surgery.  At this point, there is not much to do in regards to the nipple  numbness except allowing  for ongoing healing to occur.  Sometimes the nipple sensation will  return,  sometimes it does not.

I agree with you regarding the size mismatch and the need for further surgery to improve the symmetry. 

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Numb nipple

Thank you for your post. In general, most women who have a disturbance in nipple sensation, whether it be less (hypo-sensation), or in some cases too much (hyper-sensation), the sensation goes back to normal with 3-6 months. Occasionally, it can take 1 - 2 years to be normal. Extremely rare, the sensation never goes back to normal. This is extremely rare in augmentation alone, more common in lift or reduction but less with a smaller lift like a crescent lift. Signs that sensation is coming back are needle type sensation at the nipple, itchiness at the nipple, or 'zingers' to the nipple. The number of women that lose sensation is much lower than 10%, closer to 1% in a simple augmentation. In some cases the same occurs with contraction where some women have no contraction and some women have a constant contraction of the nipples. Unfortunately there is no surgical correction for this. Massaging the area can help sensation normalize faster if it is going to normalize, but will not help if the nerve does not recover. In women with hyper-sensitive nipples, this will go away with time in most cases. Usually 3 months or so. In the interim, I have them wear nipple covers or 'pasties' to protect them from rubbing. It is unlikely that down-sizing the implant will cause regaining sensation. Down-sizing the implant may cause saggy breasts, however, and may necessitate a breast lift. Physical therapy with de-sensitivity techniques can help with this issue. The Peri-areolar incision is associated with increased risk of nipple numbness due to the fact that the nerve is in close proximity.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 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.