Nipple sensitivity and areolas fading five months post-op. Any advice or info about the cause would be greatly appreciated.

I had a breast lift and augmentation almost 5 months ago. Within the past 2 months my nipples have become overally sensitive. Also, I've noticed that the areola has faded in color immensely. Mainly in one more than the other. Any advise or info is greatly appreciated.

Doctor Answers 8

Breast Lift with Implants

Hi Kelly,
I am sorry you are having some troubles.  The recent change in nipple sensitivity is probably the little nerve endings regenerating.  One study showed improvements in nipple sensation up to two full years after surgery.  Darker nipples can lose pigment. I do not have a photo to go on.  These changes usually, slowly, slowly, slowly improve over time.  Keep your surgeon in the loop too.  All the best, "Dr. Joe"

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 269 reviews

Nipple sensitivity and areola color

Nipple sensitivity may get better with time.  As for the areola color, it is unusual for the color to change.  It may be an illusion from the demarcation between the native breast tissue and the areola.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Nipple sensitivity after a breast augmentation

Nipple sensitivity is usually due to stretching or bruising of the 4th lateral intercostal nerve.  It is possible that you irritated this area with some activity or stretching.  It should resolve on its own.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Loss of Areola Color and Nipple Hypersensitivity

The hypersensitivity that you describe is known as a dysesthesia. It's very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep. This phenomena occurs when nerves are compressed or stretched. During and after breast augmentation and breast lift surgery, the breast implant actually simultaneously stretches and compresses the nerves. In many cases, this is made worse by swelling.

Patients typically describe a tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, clothing rubbing against the nipple areola can elicit a pins and needles sensation.

These symptoms usually resolve in about 6 to 8 weeks, but can last up to a year. In some cases, aggressive massage can desensitize the area and minimize pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Loss of nipple areola pigmentation is an unusual complication for this type of procedure. In most cases, it's probably related to ischemia of the nipple areola complex. There may be the potential for this problem to slowly improve with the passage of time.

In the interim, it's important to maintain good communication with your plastic surgeon. Your surgeon should be able to help you through these difficulties.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Nipple sensitivity and areolas fading five months post-op. Any advice or info about the cause would be greatly appreciated.

Altered nipple sensation is usually the norm rather than the exception. This can come by way of drecreased or increased. It is usually self limiting and should come back within 1-1.5 years. At times it may take longer. As far as your areolar color changes, I can't opinine because I don't have photos to go by. Good luck

Jose Perez-Gurri, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 232 reviews

Nipple hypersensitivity and areola color change 5 months post-op breast lift plus implants.

After any sort of breast surgery, but somewhat more often following breast lift plus implants, disrupted, irritated, or partially-damaged nerve endings are now finally healed enough to again send sensory impulses, which are perceived as "too much" particularly after a long period of diminished or absent sensation. This is entirely normal and will subside as time goes by. There is really nothing to do for this other than be patient, or you can do what La Leche advisor-mothers tell breast feeding mothers with painful nipples to do--rub, roll, or otherwise over-stimulate your tender nipples, which will gradually desensitize your brain's response to the painful stimulus. Time will do this without the painful hyper-stimulation, so I offer it for what it's worth: perhaps nothing, but at least something you can actively do besides impatiently wait.

As far as areola color, unless there was circulation impairment (ischemia) after surgery causing skin loss and patchy hypo-pigmentation during healing, the melanocytes present in an areola healing normally are still present. But the areola can stretch as scars soften and mature, causing the apparent density of melanocytes per unit area to diminish (same number of pigment cells in a somewhat larger stretched area), making the appearance lighter. As both areolas heal and catch up to each other, this too should essentially vanish as a concern.

If after 12 months you still have concerns, you can ask your surgeon or a Dermatologist about options regarding color. Notice I did not say tattoo artist, as this is an option that usually ends up with worse mismatch than you started with. We learned this from breast and areola reconstruction after cancer surgery.

If these two concerns are all you are worried about at this point in time, good for you! That means you had successful surgery and what sounds like an outstanding result. These two things should self-resolve! Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

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

Nipple sensitivity and areolas fading five months post-op. Any advice or info about the cause would be greatly

Best path is obtains a few in person evaluations from only boarded Plastic Surgeons in South Florida. I think the increased sensitivity will self correct over the next few months. But the color fading is hard to identify over the internet... 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Problems after Breast Augmentation with Lift

These problems can arise several months after the procedures you had.  There is generally some loss of nipple sensation early after surgery, and many of my patients do not notice this.  However, once the sensation begins to return, their nipples can become extremely sensitive.  This can last several weeks, and it can be very uncomfortable.  Good news is that is sensitivity returning, and the problem usually resorts to normal nipple sensitivity within two to three weeks.  Having said this, nipple sensation is variable among patients.
Areolar color fading could be related to an initial blood supply complication.  If you can remember the affected nipple and/or areola being purple colored within a few days after your surgery, you had a blood supply problem (ischemia) which can often result in decreased pigment (color) several months after surgery.  I have had very good success with tattooing the natural color into the areola.

Richard Wilson, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 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.