Could a Breast Implant Procedure Cause Nipples to Tingle with a Slight Burning Sensation?

Doctor Answers 11

Could a breast implant procedure cause nipples to tingle with a slight burning sensation?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Your symptoms sound like your nerves regenerating. Breast procedures such as the breast augmentation and breast lift/reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts. With any breast procedure 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% for lift/reductions and much smaller for breast augmentation. 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 full sensation to return. Re-educating your nerves to these areas by using different textures when showering and putting on lotion often helps.  Your description sounds typical for your nerves regenerating.

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.

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Nipple tingle?

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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 thyper-sensitivity. 
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Breast tingling

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Certainly early post-op you m ay experience weird sensations as the nerves "re-awaken."  If on the other hand you have a red breast that suggests infection, then that is different, and you should see your surgeon ASAP.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Nipple sensitivity common after breast implants

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It is quite common to have changes in nipple sensation after breast implant surgery. It can be due to pressure from the implant on the nerves that go to the nipple or stretching of the nerves.  Complete numbness occurs about 15% of the time but hypersensitivity is even more common. Fortunately, this almost always goes away within a few weeks or months. There is nothing that reliably speeds up the process.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Breast Augmentation healing

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these sensations are common after breast surgery and usually subside in a few months,.

advil or celebrex may help

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

A very common finding.

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This tingling you describe is very common following Augmentation and in my experience has always subsided in and around 3 months after surgery.

David A. Ross, MD (retired)
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Hypersensitive nipples after breast augmentation

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Thank you for the question

Yes, hypersensitive nipples are quite common and usually temporarily  so after  breast augmentation surgery. More commonly, in  approximately  5% of patients, there will be hypo sensitivity of the nipples that may be permanent. This is seen regardless of the incision used to perform the breast augmentation procedure and is related to involvement of the 4th intercostal nerve.

I hope this helps.

Breast Implants will cause some changes in sensation--most temporary!

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Since creation of a surgical pocket for the breast implants unavoidably cuts tiny sensory nerves, there will always be some sensation changes in the breast. The lateral 4th intercostal nerve (and sometimes branches of the 3rd and 5th) provides sensation to the nipple/areola complex, and fortunately runs along the side of the chest wall, entering the breast tissues laterally, and is therefore USUALLY undamaged in creation of the implant pocket.

But, because this nerve is not "color-coded" or waving a flag that says "I am the nerve to save!" it may be cut as the pocket is surgically made, or sometimes it might be stretched and bruised. In the latter case, it heals over time and sensation returns. If the nerve is cut, the nipple will be permanently numb.

The other tiny skin sensory nerves are similarly cut during the pocket creation, and the breast skin served by these nerves will be numb at first, but will gradually recover most (but not all) sensation as other nerves grow and heal. Healing can be perceived as burning or tingling, as can sensation associated with stretching (or unstretching) of nerves (from swelling, or resolution of swelling). When the intact nerve to the nipple area is going through these same changes, the sensations you describe are normal parts of the healing process after surgery.

These sensations are usually temporary, can sometimes get worse before they get better, but in most cases become a "new normal" that is no different from the changes in skin sensation around an abdominal scar, C-section scar, or other incision as they heal.

Complete healing may take as long as a year, and often less, so you should be patient without getting discouraged. Best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Nipple tingle or burning after breast augmentation

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Changes in nipple sensation including tingling or a slight burning sensation can occur after breast augmentation, though the changes are temporary for the majority. The implant will stretch the breast tissue and nerves within and cause the irritation. Recovery may take several months so don't get discouraged.

Best of luck,


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

Could a Breast Implant Procedure Cause Nipples to Tingle with a Slight Burning Sensation?

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The nerve supply to the nipple complex arrives along the side of the breast and may be injured by stretching or cutting in creating the implant pocket or by a large implant pushing on it. Although careful pocket separation techniques are used by most Plastic surgeons, it is impossible to avoid nerve damage in all cases. Such injuries manifest as temporary tingling, burning or in some cases numbness. Although they are temporary in most cases, in a small number of women they are permanent.

Peter A Aldea, MD

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

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.