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 22

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.

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. 

Francis X. Fleming, MD
Kennewick Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 8 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
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 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 82 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
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.  

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.

Rare for permanent numbness to occur

In my practice, sensation loss is normally only temporary and doesn't last for more than a couple of months. Full sensation returns for the majority of my patients but it can take a year. If your nipples are still numb after a year or two, that usually means it's permanent. That's pretty rare.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

5% of patients lose sensation, not typically permanent.

Although breast augmentation is a relatively safe operative procedure, occasionally complications can occur.Loss of sensation is a recognized complication of breast augmentation and can occur in about 5% of patients.Loss of sensation may involve the breast skin or, in more serious cases, the actual nipple areola complexes.In the vast majority of cases, it is a transient phenomena that resolves with time but, in some cases, it may be permanent.
The problem seems to occur more frequently when larger implants are used.This tends to stretch nerves and compress them as well, resulting in loss of sensation.It’s important that you discuss this issue thoroughly with your plastic surgeon before proceeding with breast augmentation.Although relatively rare, there’s no question that loss of nipple areola sensation can potentially occur with this procedure.

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

Thank you for the question.
There is a low percentage rate of patients (less than 5%) who lose sensation after breast augmentation surgery.  Some patients report numbness for a few months and then their sensation returns. Sometimes loss of sensation is permanent.  Results may vary from patient to patient depending on the severity and complexity of your case (the larger the implant and/or the more involved the procedure the greater the risk).
There is also a risk of hyper-sensitivity (usually temporary).
I hope this helps.

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.