Will I Lose Sensitivity in My Nipples when I Have a Breast Lift?

Doctor Answers 21

Sensory changes with breast lift.

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Breast lift often involves breast tissue incision, small volume excision or breast transposition to remodel the breast.  These procedures may reduce nipple sensation.

Brampton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Nipple sensation after breast lift (mastopexy)

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The nerves to the nipples travel through the breast tissue, not through the skin.  A proper breast lift should include some sort of remodelling of the breast tissue.  Therefore there is some risk of a change in nipple sensation with this operation, about 10%.  (None of this is due to the incisions in the skin, however.)  Just keep in mind that all surgery involves some risk.

Bruce E. Genter, MD, FACS
Abington Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Will I lose sensitivity in my nipples when I have a breast lift?

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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

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Loss of Nipple Sensation after Breast Lifting?

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Thank you for the question.

Yes there is a risk of loss or change of nipple/ areola sensation with breast lifting surgery. Exact percentages are hard to come by but my estimation would be 5 to 10% risk of a decreased or complete loss of sensation with this operation.

Patients must weigh this risk (along with many others)  against the benefits of the procedure when contemplating breast lifting surgery.

I hope this helps.

Loss of Nipple Sensitivity is a Variable Risk with Breast Lift

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Hi there-

The risk of nipple sensation exists with any operation on the breast, and will be greater as the complexity of the operation increases, but when well-executed by an experienced surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, the risks should be acceptably low.

Sensation of the nipples after mastopexy breast lift

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Nipple sensation should be gauged before surgery. Most patients will retain nipple sensation, some will have higher rates of sensation, and a small percentage may have diminished sensation.  It all depends on the surgery that was performed. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Loss of sensation

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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 Sensation with Breast Lift

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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 your consultation.

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

It is a risk

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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.

Permanent Loss of Sensation in Nipples is Unusual Following Breast Lift

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         Permanent loss of sensation is unusual following breast lift surgery. In the vast majority of patients who have decreased sensation following breast lift, sensation returns without treatment.


         Under these circumstances, decreased sensation is related to swelling and stretching of the nerves during surgery. It’s not unusual for patients to have pins and needle sensations known as dysesthesia following surgery. This resolves with time as well.


         Rarely permanent loss of sensation occurs following breast lift surgery. Although the exact incidence is unknown, most surgeons would estimate the incidence at about one to five percent.

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.