Numbness After Breast Augmentation

I've had my implants for 1 year and 8 months. I have 350cc's saline under the muscle, put through the areola. I still have a lot of numbness and both of my nipples have maybe 10% feeling. After this long do you think it's permanent? Also what do you think happened that caused me to experience so much numbness? I would say I have about 30% numbness on my entire breast.

Doctor Answers 30

Numbness after breast augmentation?

Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.  There is small rate of sensation change in breast augmentation - moreso for breast lift and reduction, where the nipple is cut and moved.  If this was not done during your breast augmentation, sensation should return over the next several weeks to months. 

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Unfortunately, your sensory loss following breast augmentation is most likely permanent.

Permanent sensory changes following breast augmentation is a real potential complication. The three year incidence for all levels of severity (mild to severe) is reported to be 10%. At 18 months following your breast augmentation, the sensory loss that you are experiencing is most likely permanent.

Thanks for your question.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Relative size of implant is important

The size of the implant relative to the size of your breast is the most important determinant of sensory changes, particularly numbness. If you place a large (width-wise) implant into a small breast, the nerves supplying the breast and nipple are more likely to be injured, traumatized, or stretched. The smaller the implant, the less dissection required relative to the base of the breast, and the lower the likelihood that nerves innervating the breast from the periphery of the breast will be disturbed.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

After a year, recovery is unlikely


If you have not had much recovery of sensation a year after surgery, it is unlikely that much more will occur, although it is possible. It really depends on where the sensory nerves to the nipple were affected by the surgery (nerves grow very slowly- 1mm per day).

Unfortunately, changes in sensation are a bit more common with the peri-areolar approach.

Permanent numbness

Permanent numbness is a rare risk of surgery and this may be what you're experiencing unfortunately. During surgery or with the presence of your implants, nerves may have been damaged and they've been unable to regenerate.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Numbness After Breast Augmentation

Sorry about the loss of sensation.
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.

Nipple numbness

Typically, once you are at a year or more post operatively, the numbness that you have is likely permanent.  If you are going from small breasts to very large breasts , you're at higher risk of permanent numbness due to the amount of dissecting needed to create a pocket for the implants, which will cause more nerves to be damaged. 

Chad Robbins, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Numb nipple

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 normal. Extremely rare, the sensation never goes back to normal. This is extremely rare in augmentation alone, more common in lift or reduction but less with a smaller lift like a crescent lift. 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. In some cases the same occurs with contraction where some women have no contraction and some women have a constant contraction of the nipples. 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. In women with hyper-sensitive nipples, this will go away with time in most cases. Usually 3 months or so. In the interim, I have them wear nipple covers or 'pasties' to protect them from rubbing. It is unlikely that down-sizing the implant will cause regaining sensation. Down-sizing the implant may cause saggy breasts, however, and may necessitate a breast lift. Physical therapy with de-sensitivity techniques can help with this issue.  The Peri-areolar incision is associated with increased risk of nipple numbness due to the fact that the nerve is in close proximity.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews


Unfortunately, this far out the numbness is probably permanent. The nerves that supply the nipple can be stretched or damaged during augmentation, although rarely. I am sorry this happened.

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

Loss of Sensation Following Breast Augmentation

         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 five percent 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’s a transient phenomenon 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 the 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. 

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.