Nipple Sensation After Breast Reduction

Hi! I had a breast reduction a year and a half ago (June 2010). I went from a size DD to a size C. Since the operation, I have not regained sensation to both nipples. Is this normal after such a long time? Can I still hope to have the sensation come back?

Doctor Answers 11

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.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Nipple Numbness?

Dear Hippie,
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 comming back are needle type sensation at the nipple, itchyness 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 38 reviews

Loss of Nipple Sensation after Breast Reduction

Loss of nipple sensation following breast reduction surgery is uncommon, but unfortunately, may be permanent.  Most patients regain nipple sensation within 6-12 months following surgery, however, some may take up to two years.  Though uncommon, loss of nipple sensation is a known and unpredictable risk of breast reduction surgery.

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Loss of nipple sensation after breast reduction

Loss of nipple sensation after breast reduction occurs about 10% of the time and is sometimes permanent.  If sensation hasn't returned at 1 year, it is not likely to return. Some individuals have had return of sensation at 2 years but this is the exception and not the rule.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

Loss of Nipple Sensation After Breast Reduction

Loss of nipple sensation is a recognized complication of breast Reduction surgery. In the process of removing the excess breast tissue some of the sensory branches from the nipple are injured as well. In the majority of such women, there is nerve outgrowth with regaining of some sensation. however, at a year and a half sfter surgery you can unfortunately assume that things would not get better.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Loss Of Nipple Sensation After Reduction

A certain number of women will have a permanent loss of nipple sensation following breast reduction surgery.  The percentage is in the neighborhood of 3-6%, depending upon the technique used.  If you have had no improvement in your nipple sensation 18 months following your reduction surgery, it is unlikely that you will you a change in the future.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Breast Reduction and Nipple Sensation?

Thank you for the question.

I'm sorry to hear about your loss of sensation after breast reduction surgery. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that significant sensation will return at this point. Hopefully, you are pleased with the benefits that breast reduction surgery  usually affords.

Best wishes.

Sensation in nipples

If you do not have sensation in your nipples after a year and a half, it is likely you will never get it back. 

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Loss of Sensation is Transient

Although breast reduction is considered a safe operative procedure, occasionally complications do occur.Decreased nipple areola sensation reportedly occurs in five to fifteen percent of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery.
This complication appears to be related to the surgical technique used and the amount of breast tissue removed from the breast.In cases where large amounts of breast tissue are removed, there’s a higher incidence of decreased sensation.In addition, surgical techniques that remove breast tissue inferiorly near the breast fold are also associated with an increased incidence of numbness.
The vast majority of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery report high satisfaction rates even when sensation is decreased.In these cases, resolution of symptoms is the priority.
In the vast majority of patients loss of sensation is transient.When sensation is absent for a year or longer it should be considered permanent.It’s important that you discuss this issue thoroughly with your plastic surgeon.Although relatively rare, there’s no question that loss of nipple sensation can potentially occur with this procedure.

Nipple sensation after breast reduction

Decrease in nipple sensation is possible with a breast reduction. This is often temporary, though. It is difficult to say whether this will be permanent for you (although it could be considering it has been a year and a half since your surgery).

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.