Breast Lift (No Implants) - What's the Risk of Losing Nipple Sensation?

I've had 3 PS consults. I understand all surgery carries risks. My last consult told me loss of nipple sensation risk is "50/50". The previous 2 consults did not give such serious odds. So I'm wondering, is this last consult a great Dr, who would rather give me the "worst case scenario" and have me pleased, vs "sugar coat" things and have me very unhappy afterwards, or is this Dr perhaps a "chop shop" doctor, not giving the delicate concern to my end result (and therefore not the best choice)?

Doctor Answers 16

Breast Lift (No Implants) - What's the Risk of Losing Nipple Sensation?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There is always a risk of nipples sensation loss or alteration ,following breast lift surgery

The larger the breast ,the greater the degrees of sagging ,the greater the risk of sensation loss

The risk of sensation loss also has to do with the surgical technique

There are three basic techniques , the anchor , the vertical and the circum-areolar 

the circum-areolar with only skin excision carries the lowest risk

Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Sensation loss after surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Each doctor has a good idea of their results so if someone told me a number like 50% I would be a bit worried. I think most doctors have a much lower rate.Good Luck!

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Risk of nipples sensory loss in a breast lift?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for this question.


Nipple sensory loss is more common in breast augmentation and breast reduction surgery because the nerve that supplies sensation  to the nipple can be in the path where the implant lives or within the tissue that is being removed in a breast reduction.

Most breast lifts, regardless of type are in a much more superficial plane.  Therefore, it is much less likely, but not impossible that the nerve could be injured.

As you embark on this it is always safest to be comfortable with the worst case scenario, but in my own experience it is not likely that nipple sensation will be lost in a routine breast lift.  In a full breast lift it is quite common that the superficial skin will be known for a number of months. This superficial skin sensory loss will usually return.


Best wishes.

Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 115 reviews

You might also like...

Risk of Loss of Nipple Sensation with Breast Lift

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Change of sensation or loss of sensation of the nipple is a known complication from breast surgery including breast lift.  Understanding the anatomy and performing the surgery properly is key to minimizing this risk.  Fifty percent is extremely high.  If that is the surgeons experience in his practice I would be concerned.  Some women may also experience a slight increase in sensation during the early recovery which then usually goes back to normal. I tell patients there is about a 10% chance they may experience a change in nipple sensation but in practice that number is much lower.

Albert Dabbah, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon

What's the Risk of Losing Nipple Sensation?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

In a recent (2007) large series (500 patients)  of breast reductions the full loss of sensation was reported at 1 percent. Partial loss was noted to be 10%. A breast reduction has the same or greater incisions, and more manipulation of breast tissue, so if anything would carry a higher risk than just a breast lift.  Fifty percent is an exaggeration, but I would go elsewhere in case it is accurate accounting of that surgeon's experience. 

Thanks and best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Loss of sensation

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Loss of sensation in the nipple/areola is fortunately an uncommon occurrence.
In my experience, permanent loss of of sensation may be due to stretching of the sensory nerves by using very large implants causing a stretch injury or pressure on the nerves, extent of dissection which can damage the nerves, and the size of implant. I find that the location of the incision is not usually the reason for loss of sensation.
Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon is important when considering surgery, as it will lower your chances of complications.

Loss of Nipple Sensation

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk. Any breast operation can result in changes in sensation. This happens less with lifts than reductions but is still possible Occasionally, minor complications occur and do not affect the surgical outcome. Major complications associated with this procedure are rare. The suitability of the breast lift procedure and specific risks may be determined during you consultation.

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

Nipple sensation after breast lift

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Sensation changes are generally considered temporary and will go away in about a year. If the sensation doesn't return in two years, then it probably won't return to how it was before surgery.

Risk of losing nipple sensation?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Dear MOE,
thank you for yout post.  It is impossible to tell if he is telling you his experience or if he is just increasing the odds to prepare you for the worst.  In general, breast lift carries a much smaller risk then that, about 10% nationally.
Best wishes, 
Pablo Prichard, MD

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

Breast lift (no implants) - what's the risk of losing nipple sensation?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Hello! 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.

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.

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.