How Long Can It Take for Nipple Sensation to Come Back After Breast Augmentation

Doctor Answers 24

How Long Can It Take for Nipple Sensation to Come Back After Breast Augmentation?

Sensation of the nipple and the areola are conducted via the Fourth Intercostal branch. The nerve branch emerges from under the 4th rib approximately at a point where a perpendicular line from the anterior armpit fold crosses the 4th rib and travels under the skin to the areola. Placing of large implants (especially over the muscle) and blunt blind dissection of the side pocket may injure the nerve. The vast majority of numbness is temporary but in as many as 15% of women the numbness can be permanent. For this reason it is important to tell all women receiving breast implants that they may be risking permanent nipple numbness.

Dr. Peter A Aldea

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Nipple Sensation

It usually is back within 6months to a year. It is present roughly 10% of the time. Sensation can sometimes return with a vengience, sharp pain . Some times the nipple can feel like an electric shock when the nerve is waking up.  Good Luck.

Paul Albear, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Nipple Sensation Loss

Although the risk of permanent sensation loss is very low, it is possible to see temporary sensation changes that take 3-6 months to return.   I typically warn patients that the larger the implant that is placed, the higher the risk of sensation changes.     This is because the sensory nerve to the nipple and areola will be stretched by the implant.    The good news is that most cases stretch injury to the nerve results are temporary.

I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast augmentation

It can take up to one year for nipple sensation to return after a breast augmentation, but usually it returns sooner-in months. The chance of permanently losing nipple sensation is between 10-15%. It is very common however to have some numbness immediately after surgery due to inflammation and stretching of the nerves.

Best wishes,


William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast augmentation

Losing nipple sensation is a risk with breast augmentation, though permanent loss occurs in a small minority of women. Nipple sensation may return over weeks and months, and may even improve over years. If a nipple remained completely numb over a year or more, however, it would most likely not return.

Robert M. Grenley, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Return of sensation depends on what was done

Nipple sensation comes from a branch of the fourth intercostal nerve, which emerges beneath your fourth rib on your side and runs forward, over the muscle, and then goes out to the nipple.  In general, if the implants were submuscular (and therefore one tissue layer away), the change in sensation should be less and recover quicker.

Either way, over or under the muscle, your sensation can progressively improve for months.  A permanent diminution is possible but unlikely, and if it occurs, it must be so slight that patients don't care, because (although I discuss the possibility preoperatively) most patients never ask about sensation afterward.

Good luck.

Mark B. Constantian, MD, FACS
Nashua Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

How Long Can It Take For Nipple Sensation To Come Back After Breast Augmentation?

Nipple sensation may be affected after augmentation. Some patients have perfectly normal or minimally affected sensation after surgery if the nerves are affected by the surgery. Most patients have some stretching of the nerves but the sensation should return usually within 6 weeks to 2 months.The nipple sensation may come back with a sharp sting or an electric shock sensation. In case if the smaller nerves are inadvertently transected during surgery, it may grow back within 6 to 12 months. . If there is complete numbness more than 12 months, then there is a possibility of permanent sensation loss. This is usually very uncommon and rare.

Colin Hong, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Breast Augmentation Nipple Sensation Loss

Thank you for your question. This will be different for everyone. Usually, you can expect sensation to come back about 6-12 months. Permanently losing sensation in the nipple is a low percentage. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 
Double board certified
Plastic surgeon
Hoffman Estates

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Loss of sensation

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.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Can take about 6 months to a year

Numbness is caused by the effect surgery has on the nerves, as well as the presence of the implant. Precise surgical techniques that cause less trauma to the breast will decrease the rate of numbness. However, it is generally temporary and full sensation should return in 6 months to a year. If you’ve a had a particularly difficult recovery, this could be longer.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 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.