I Am a Ftm Transsexual Interested in Top Surgery but I Do Not Want my Nipples Changed?

Is it possible to have top surgery without having the nipples removed, revised, or graphed on? I enjoy the sensation in my nipples and do not want to lose that. Or would a breast reduction be a better option? Basically I want a flat chest with my original nipples.

Doctor Answers 10

FTM "Top Surgery" chest masculinization without nipple-grafting

Yes, it is definitely possible to leave the nipples attached (as in a breast reduction, only a more "extreme" form of the same), in order to retain at least some sensation, especially if you are starting at a C/D-cup or smaller with a relatively minimal "drooping" effect.  I agree that healing after full-thickness nipple grafting is often unpredictable, with high potential for partial nipple loss, thickened scars, pigmentation irregularities, etc., which is why this alternative "nipple-sparing" technique (with the incisions closed in an "anchor"-pattern) was developed and refined.

Transgender "top surgery" to preserve nipple sensation?

I agree with Dr. Lawton's answer. Properly-performed transgender mastectomies would remove 99% of your breast tissue, along with the sensory nerves to your nipples. To imply that some surgeons or techniques can preserve or "spare" sensation in reliable or "guaranteed" fashion is truly false, and frankly, disingenuous.

Breast reduction can preserve sensation in about 85% of patients, with more tissue removal reducing those odds. Breast reduction will NOT yield a "flat chest." Anchor-pattern breast reductions do NOT offer guaranteed sensory maintenance, and they do NOT yield a masculine-appearing chest (a "double whammy" IMHO).

Total mastectomies, nipple reduction, areola reduction, and reconstruction of the nipple/areola complexes as full-thickness skin grafts will give you the most masculine results, but will usually result in numb nipples permanently.

Some patients will recover some sensation in their grafted nipple/areola complexes, but this is neither normal nor erotic, but not totally numb either.

However, to state or imply that properly-performed transgender mastectomies COULD yield sensate nipples that retain erotic sensation (if only you were to find that particular surgeon) is plainly a lie designed to fool prospective patients into seeking that particular surgeon or "special" technique. Don't "fall" for this deplorable lapse of ethics. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 240 reviews

Nipple sparing top surgery

Thank you for your question. In my experience, most trans men (like yourself) want as tight and flat a chest as possible with as much definition to the pectoralis muscle as possible. This would not be able to be achieved with a breast reduction alone as there will still be a "pedicle" of breast tissue beneath the skin flaps that is necessary to keep the nipple areola complex alive and sensate. The reason to do the breast reduction method then becomes solely to maintain as much nipple sensitivity as possible for those trans men that postop maintenance of erotic sensation of the nipples is important. Even with this technique there is no guarantee of maintenance of nipple sensation. With the standard double incision top surgery with free nipple grafts, the contour is usually superior, scar placement can be optimized into the inframammary crease only ( as opposed to the breast reduction anchor configuration which is periareolar, vertical AND inframammary), and nipple placement can be achieved into a more masculine position further lateral on the pectoralis muscle. I hope this helps and best of luck with your transition!!

Russell Sassani, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

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No promises!

Any breast reduction technique whether the nipples are not relocated (rare) can alter sensation. No surgeon should promise the preservation of nipple sensation following breast surgery even if liposuction is the only approach used. You have to be willing to possibly diminish or lose sensation with Top surgery.

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 18 reviews


I appreciate your question.
The 2 major methods are double incision mastectomy with nipple grafting and keyhole.
It depends on the size of your breasts as to which method would be best for you and the ability to maintain nipple sensation

The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative breast surgery.

best of luck!

Dr Schwartz

FTM breast removal

The male chest contouring procedures all have one characteristic in common and that is the removal of the breast tissue underneath the nipple. Because this tissue contains the sensory nerves that go to the nipple, there is a substantial likelihood that you will lose sensation of the nipples. Preservation of this tissue in a breast reduction procedure is what maintains the nipple sensation in approximately 92% of women. 

I hope that this info helps.

Sheldon Lincenberg, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Nipple grafting

It is difficult to offer an opinion without the benefit of photographs.  In general, if your breast size is small then it would be possible to leave the nipple attached, but if your breast size is large then nipple grafting would be performed in conjunction with a double incision mastectomy and give you the best cosmetic results.  

Josef Hadeed, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

FTM Top Surgery Options

Hi aCreativeBoi,

Thanks for the post. To truly answer your question it would have been helpful to have a photo. That being said, men with smaller breasts (A-small B cup) and fair to good skin tone do well with procedures where the nipples are not removed. Typically a combination of liposuction and excision of excess breast tissue through an incision along the bottom half of the areola is performed.  The results are very good. Men with larger breast, droopy breasts, and excess skin will not do well with this procedure and will need the double incision Top surgery.


Dr. Dadvand

Babak Dadvand, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

FTM without nipple graft

Yes, this is possible, but it will limit the amount of flattening that you can get.  I have preserved nipples and sensation in some of my FTM transgender patients.  It tends to work better in patients who are on the heavier side, in whom a small amount of residual fullness is in line with the rest of their body dimensions.  Even with keeping the nipples vascularized, there is still a risk of sensation change.  Most of my FTM patients do opt for nipple grafting, however, as the goal of the flattest chest usually takes precedent over nipple sensation.

Best Regards,

Dr Deboni

The information above should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to address individual medical needs. Your particular facts and circumstances will determine the plastic surgery treatment which is most appropriate for you.

Cannot have both

A breast reduction with preservation of the nerves to the nipple will not result in the flat chest you are looking for.  The double incision mastectomy requires nipple grafting to ensure the flatness of the chest.  So you cannot unfortunately have both.

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.