I Recently Had a Breast Augmentation Performed Through a Transaxilary Incision, Hit Nerve, Will This Heal?

I am three wks post op and I still only have about half my normal strength in my right hand. The Dr. told me he knew he hit my nerve when he was trying to cauterize a capillary that was laying over the nerve because my arm flew up off the table. I have a burning tingling sensation and pretty severe pain from the tips of my ring and pinkie finger all the way up my arm and through my shoulder. I cannot fully extend my arm without a horrible shooting pain. It hasn't improved at all. Will this heal?

Doctor Answers 6

I Recently Had a Breast Augmentation Performed Through a Transaxilary Incision, Hit Nerve, Will This Heal?

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Sorry for your complication. This issue is becoming to frequent via the transaxillary approach for augmentation. I recommend seeing a brachial plexus specialist for testing. These specialist can determine the permanency of the injury. 

Nerve damage from trans-axillary breast augmentation

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We perform many trans-axillary or under the arm breast augmentations, and nerve injury should be unheard of. There is one nerve which can be near the location which give feeling to the under arm and may be subject to stretch, but the pattern you describe suggests injury to the ulnar nerve under your arm, a structure that is deep and away from where an implant should be going. I think you should see your primary care physician and seek a referral to a neurologist who can best sort out your situation.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Injured Nerve

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Based on your description, I would suggest seeing a neurologist.  This is a very uncommon occurrence and you should seek the advice of specialists to ensure that your recovery is maximized.


Good Luck.

Nerve injury from trans-axillary breast augmentation

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I am sorry to hear of your problem. This is potentially a serious complication and needs immediate thorough evaluation.

Please see an upper limb surgeon with special interest in brachial plexus injury. The nerve(s) damaged with the extent of damage need to be established by clinical examination, and if necessary, by nerve conduction study/EMG and a MRI scan.

If a nerve has been completely, or more likely, partially severed - it may need repair. More often it can be just a bad stretch or bruising of the nerve which should improve spontaneously and completely with time.

But the key thing is to get assessed by the right specialist. Good luck!


Anindya Lahiri, FRCS (Plast)
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon

Nerve injury with breast augmentation

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This is a very unusual complication with transaxillary breast augmentation in experienced hands.  You should defintely have nerve testing to determine the extent of your injury.  This will help to form a course of treatment.  Donald R. Nunn MD Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Brachial plexus injury during a transaxillary breast augmentation

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What you describes sounds like an injury to a portion of a complex of nerves in your axillary region known as the brachial plexus. The symptoms appear to be localized to the part that branches out to become the ulnar nerve. This type of injury during a transaxillary approach is quite rare.

As recommended by the other plastic surgery respondents, you should seek an immediate evaluation from a neurologist. You may need to be followed along for a period of around 2 years potentially to fully monitor your progress. Hopefully there is little or no long term damage.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 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.