I Had a Breast Lift with Aug 2 1/2 Yrs Ago. Will I Ever Regain my Nipple Sensation?

I STILL have absolutely NO feeling in my nipple areas of both my breasts after my lift with augmentation 2 1/2 years ago. Does this mean I will NEVER regain sensation again? If not, is there ANYTHING I can do to put some feeling back into my breasts?

Doctor Answers 5

Permanent nipple numbness

Dear rykytyka,
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. Since you have had numbness for 2.5 years, it is likely that this is permanent.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

I had a breast lift with aug 2.5 yrs ago. Will I ever regain my nipple sensation?

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.  At 2.5 yrs, it's getting very unlikely that sensation will return. 

It is one risk of such a procedure, and one that you must consider, amongst others, as with any surgical procedure. Return of sensation can take up to a year.  If no change from that time, the chances are slim that it will improve.  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Will I Ever Regain my Nipple Sensation?

Loss of some sensation is always a risk with any surgery. Generally, there is decreased sensation for several months after surgery - this is normal, which slowly returns in time. Most of the time by 1 year after a procedure, the sensation is pretty much where it is going to be for most people. Sometimes it takes longer and the return of sensation will happen in the following year but this is the minority. At 2 1/2 years after a procedure, if you still have no sensation, it is unlikely that the situation will change much.

Brett Edward Lehocky, MD
Bakersfield Plastic Surgeon
3.1 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

2 1/2 years after breast lift and augmentation, absent nipple sensation will not return.

Depending on the statistics quoted, about 15% of patients undergoing breast lift plus augmentation will lose sensation to one or both nipples permanently. A higher percentage will initially have lost sensation due to bruising or stretching of the sensory nerve(s) to the nipples. The main sensory innervation is the lateral 4th intercostal nerve, sometimes with additional contribution from branches of the 3rd and 5th intercostals.

This nerve runs from the back along the side of the chest wall to enter the breast laterally and deep, and then coursing through the breast tissue to the nipple/areola complex. Most skin incisions and breast implant pockets will avoid these nerves, but the nerves are not "color-coded" or waving a "save me, save me" flag. These are simply small fibers like many other fibers that are divided in the performance of the surgery, creation of the implant pockets, and tailoring the skin flaps that shape the breast.

About 5-10% of breast augmentation patients will lose nipple sensation permanently, and around 15% of breast lift, reduction mammoplasty, or breast lift plus augmentation patients will lose sensation permanently.

When a patient has absent nipple sensation immediately after surgery, it could be due to a stretched or irritated nerve, and will recover over time (usually 6-12 months, rarely longer). Or, the nerve(s) could be severed, and will not recover. By 2 1/2 years after surgery, if you have absent nipple sensation, it should not be expected to return. Sorry, but that is not a complication of this surgery; it is one possible outcome even if everything is performed perfectly, simply based on each patient's own anatomical differences. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast lift

Nipple sensation can be different after a breast lift though  the risk is small. When there has been a change the nipple will recover within nine to twelve months if it is to get better. After two years the likelyhood of a recovery becomes small.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 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.