Is It Possible to Regain Nipple Sensation with Breast Implant Downsize?

I had 500cc mod + implants put in 2 yrs ago. I lost about 70% feeling in my right nipple and about 25% in my left as well as numbness the underside of both breasts. Lately I've been feeling as though my implants are too large and I'd like to downsize to 250ccs. I've read that some women regain nipple sensation after explant. I even knew a girl who regained some sensation after getting larger implants put in. Is there a possibility that I may after a downsize? Any help is appreciated, thank you.

Doctor Answers 10

Regaining nipple sensation?

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Dear Naida,
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. 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. In women with hyper-sensitive nipples, this will go away with time. usually 3 months or so. In the interim, I have them wear nipple covers or 'pasties' to protect them from rubbing.  After 2 years 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.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Breast Revision

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You need an evaluation by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon first.  Second, you need to know bigger implants are not the way to restore sensation.  If this occurred, this is rare, and not the norm.  A smaller implant may help, but unlikely after 2 years.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Is It Possible to Regain Nipple Sensation with Breast Implant Downsize?

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ALL the previous experts say do not count on it. I agree in principal but "anything" can happen so if you want to downsize do not do it for regaining sensation do it for a smaller size. 

Improved nipple sensation with downsizing

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Dear Nadia, I would not bank on improved nipple sensation. I cannot quote any studies but this improvement is doubtful. Good luck

Craig Harrison, MD, PA
Tyler Plastic Surgeon

Downsizing to regain nipple sensation

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It is possible, but not probable after downsizing to smaller breast implants, to regain nipple sensation. However, revisionary surgery does involve risks and complications, which may cause numbness or a decrease in sensation as well. There is no guarantee that you will regain full sensation after downsizing. You may want to weigh the risks of revisionary surgery prior to proceeding. Good luck.

On this site, I do my best to give advice without a physical examination but I want you to know that a physical examination by a board certified physician is always the best way to get the most accurate information.

Breast Augmentation. Nipple Numbness, Changing Implant Size

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I have seen patients regain sensitivity after both going larger and smaller, but it is quite unusual and very unpredictable. If you just want a smaller size, go ahead with smaller implants, but don't do the surgery with the primary goal of regaining sensation. That is not a likely outcome.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Nipple Sensation Not Likely To Improve After 2 Years

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Although you can never say never nor always in medicine or surgery, it is extremely unlikely that you will see any improvement in your nipple sensation after 2 years.  There may be some improvement within the first six to twelve months but thereafter it is unlikely.  This is the case whether or not you elect to have your implants replaced with smaller implants.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Regaining Nipple Sensation

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Loss of nipple and breast sensation after having breast augmentation can be due to injury to the nerves sustained during the initial procedure or due stretching and pressure on the sensory nerves from implants that are too large.  If the cause is due the the implant size and pressure, it is possible to regain sensation by downsizing however this is difficult to predict.  There is no way to tell ahead of time if feeling will return and even after having the larger implants removed and the smaller ones placed, it can be several months before sensation returns if ever. 

Even without considering the return to sensation, there are definite advantages to downsizing.  There will less stress on your skin and surrounding tissues and overall the breasts will maintain a better cosmetic appearance over the long-term with smaller implants.  Make sure you consult with a plastic surgeon experienced in revision breast surgery to review all your options.

Adam Hamawy, MD
Princeton Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Is it possible to regain nipple sensation with breast implant downsize?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Your symptoms sound like your nerves regenerating. Breast procedures such as the breast augmentation and breast lift/reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts. With any breast procedure 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% for lift/reductions and much smaller for breast augmentation. 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 can take up to a year for full sensation to return. Re-educating your nerves to these areas by using different textures when showering and putting on lotion often helps.  It may help as the pressure from beneath the nipple will be decreased. 

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

Breast Implant Revision - Is It Possible to Regain Nipple Sensation with Breast Implant Downsize?

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Possible? - yes.  A good enough reason to do the surgery? - probably not.

There are many reasons why patients lose sensation from breast surgery - it typically has to do with damage to the nerve supply to the nipple.  That supply is variable and is not normally visualized directly during this surgery.  It is also not predictable and, as such, the potential for loss of some or all of the sensation from one and/or both sides persists as one of the more troubling but less preventable side effects of this surgery.

Furthermore, once this has happened, there are no good ways (that I know of) to bring the sensation back.  An exception is if the sensation loss was from traction and weight; such as is seen with breast reduction patients.  I have seen many examples of patients whose sensation was enhanced with breast reduction surgery.

But unless the cause of the sensation-impairment is that degree of bulk, and you are willing to reduce the bulk by a significant amount, I think it's unlikely that the sensation will return from that procedure alone.

If you have other reasons to do the surgery - size change, type of implant, other problems - then if you get some more of the sensation back, it will be a bonus.  But as the sole reason for redoing the procedure?  Not necessarily something I would encourage.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

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.