Loss of Nipple Sensation After Breast Augmentation? Does this frequently occur? And if so, is it permanent?

I have heard stories of women losing much or all feeling or sensation of their nipples after having Breast Implants. Does this frequently occur? And if so, is it permanent?

Doctor Answers 24

Loss of nipple sensation.

All surgery carries the risk of complication. One such complication of breast augmentation surgery would be partial or full loss of nipple sensation. This occurs in approximately 5% of people who undergo this procedure. 

Kennewick Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Nipple Numbness after augementation?

Dear BF,
Thank you for your post. In general, most women who have a disturbance in nipple sensation, whether it be less (hypo-sensation), or in some cases too much (hyper-sensation), the sensation goes back to normal with 3-6 months. Occasionally, it can take 1 - 2 years to be normally. Extremely rarely, the sensation never goes back to normal. This is extremely rare in augmentation alone, more common in lift or reduction. Signs that sensation is coming back are needle type sensation at the nipple, itchiness at the nipple, or 'zingers' to the nipple. The number of women that lose sensation is much lower than 10%, closer to 1% in a simple augmentation. Unfortunately there is no surgical correction for this. Massaging the area can help sensation normalize faster if it is going to normalize, but will not help if the nerve does not recover.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Sensation Loss after Breast Augmentation

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 85 reviews

Changes in nipple sensation after breast augmentation

This is an excellent question. In order to place an implant a "pocket" needs to be created to accommodate the chosen implant. The very act of creating that pocket means that the many nerves are "disturbed", and this is completely unavoidable. The nipples are an important erogenous zone so the prospect of altering sensation here must be clearly understood.

I inform all my patients that several things can happen to breast nipple sensation after augmentation surgery:

  • Nipple sensation can remain unchanged to that of the pre-operative state
  • Or, the nipple sensation can increase to the point of being too sensitive and sometimes painful
  • Or, the nipple sensation can decrease to the point of being numb.
If the nipple sensation does change after surgery, within 12 months most women have returned to there preoperative state. However, up to 10% remain with permanently altered nipple sensation - either too much or not enough.

In addition to the nipple, other parts of the breast can have altered sensation. For example, sensation between the scar within the lower breast fold and the lower edge of your areolar is often reduced. There is a good chance this will not return to normal.

Eddy Dona, MBBS, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Loss of nipple sensation

Loss of sensation can occur particularly while swelling exists. However, it’s usually never permanent and goes away in a few months, once the swelling subsides.

Leila Kasrai, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Loss of nipple sensation after breast implants not common

There is a definite risk of sensory changes to the nipple with breast augmentation, and there are several myths about what causes it. The medical literature shows that it is not related to where the incision is made, though many still make the claim that the periareolar location (incorrectly called "through the nipple") has a higher chance. What is known is that larger implants have a higher probability. The reason for this is that the nerve to the nipple courses into the breast from the side, and the dissection to make the pocket for the implant may need to come close to it there. The bigger the pocket, the more likely the nerve will be stretched or affected. Most of the time the chnages in sensation, when they do occur, are temporary.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Nipple Sensation After Breast Augmentation

While there is always a risk of permanent numbness and sensation loss with breast augmentation surgery, the risk is usually small. Normally there is temporary numbness initially after surgery that improves over time. Incisions at the areola seem to have an increased likelihood of losing sensation. Incision at the inframmamary crease can reduce the chance of sensation loss. I recommend having a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss all of your questions and concerns so that you can make an informed decision.

John Diaz, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Nipple Sensation Loss with Breast Augmentation

Loss of nipple sensation is quite infrequent, about 5 percent.  In most cases, the sensation will return.  The key to success is in finding a board certified plastic surgeon with expertise in cosmetic breast surgery - know before you go!

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Nipple numbness after breast augmentation

This is very important.  Careful surgery and respect for the normal nerves that run to the areolae are important to reduce this risk.  Fortunately, this is an infrequent complication and is influenced by incision location, implant size, surgical technique and WHO is doing your surgery, so pick wisely!  A board certified surgeon should be able to both discuss this with you and optimize your results.  

Matthew H. Conrad, MD
Wichita Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 23 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 150 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.