Very Sensitive Nipples After Breast Augmentation

I am 53 years old and had silicone implants 1 month ago. I am having very sensitive nipples, almost to the point of painful. Fabric hurts to touch them. What can you recomend? I have tried several creams and nothing seems to work. My doctor tells me it will ease in time.

Doctor Answers 65

Nipple hypersensitivity after breast augmentation

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Hypersensitivity of the nipples is extremely common with breast augmentation and is a result of stretching or small injury to some of the nerves along the chest wall leading to the nipple. This will almost certainly get better and resolve in the next several months. My patients that have had this problem have found some relief by placing nipple "pasties" on the breasts. They can minimize the friction of the nipples rubbing on a bra or clothing and might give you at least some relief until the condition resolves itself. 

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Massage breast to decrease sensitivity

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Breast implants do put some tension or stretch on nerves that tends to cause irritation. The nerve to the nipple runs from the back around the side of the breast and up to the nipple.

For patients with nipple sensitivity after breast augmentation, I recommend using gauze pads or large bandaids to decrease the physical rubbing of clothes or bras directly on the nipple.

I also recommend massaging the lateral or outside aspect of the breast and ribs, which compresses the nerve before the area that is being stretched. The nerve then senses the pressure of the massage rather than the pain of the pulling.

This will get better in time so hang in there.

Brian J. Lee, MD
Fort Wayne Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Sensitive Nipples is Common After Breast Augmentation

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Thank you for your question.

It is very common to experience hypersensitivity of the nipples after breast augmentation.

This will go away with time. It is caused by stretching of the nerves during surgery.

Nipples Sensitive 1 Month Following Breast augmentation

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Increased nipple sensation following breast augmentation can occur and almost always goes away. Because you mention that both nipples are affected, I believe that the same healing process is occurring in both. During the course of the procedure the sensory nerves to the breast may become swollen or stretched, occasionally  resulting  in hypersensitivity of these nerves to the nipples. Over time the breast swelling dissipates and the hypersensitivity spontaneously resolves.  In the meanwhile, you can place soft nursing pads in your bra for comfort.

Nipple hypersensitivity after augmentation mammaplasty

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This is very common and has probably peaked.

I have noted that most patients experience this at approximately 10 days to 3 weeks after surgery.

It is due to the stretching of the nerves (neuropraxia) and will resolve as the nerve relaxes. In research, we know we can stretch nerves and they will grow, as they do this they become less taut and less sensitive.

This is common for any part of the body and physical therapists commonly perform desenstization exercises to help diminish the discomfort.

Your physician is correct in that it tends to resolve and I suspect you have experienced the worst of it at this point in time. Implant displacement exercises, while initially painful, may help to stretch and evenutally relax the nerve; ask your surgeon about this.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Sensitive Nipples after Breast Augmentation

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I routinely tell my patients that one of the complications in a breast augmentation is changes in nipple sensitivity. The nerve endings that supply the nipple come from the lateral aspect of the breast. During the surgery, this lateral part of the breast has to be "dissected" to accommodate the width of the implant. I have seen more problems with nipple sensitivity when the pocked has been dissected to far laterally and disrupted the nerves. As the healing process occurs, some of the nerves become trapped by scar tissue. I don't believe the compression of the implant under the nipple causes these sensation changes. If the sensisivity has decreased, I tell patients that it may return with time. If there is hypersensitivity or pain, I will try early massage over the nipple to "de-sensitize" the area. If this does not work, there are several medications that can decrease this neuropathic pain.

Very sensitive nipples after surgery...

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  • Early after breast enlargements, as many as 5-6% of patients may have hypersensitive nipples. This can come from the surgery with stretching and heating of the tissues to place the implants.... Usually this problem passes in 4-6 weeks after surgery... The recovery is infrequently longer...
  • Discuss the treatment of this problem with your plastic surgeon; gel nipple coverings that are used for sensitive nipples with nursing mothers often work quite well for this passing problem..... Antiinflammatory drugs may hasten the recovery, as well...
Best Regards,

Douglas J. Raskin, MD
Colorado Springs Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Dysesthesia (Nipple Sensitivity) Usually Resolves Within 6-8 Wks Following Breast Augmentation. Massage May Help the Discomfort

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Patients who undergo breast augmentation often complain of pain, swelling, and nipple hypersensitivity. These are normal findings immediately following surgery, and usually resolve with time.
The hypersensitivity that you describe is known as a dysesthesia. It’s very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep. This phenomena occurs when nerves are compressed or stretched. During and after breast augmentation surgery, the breast implant actually simultaneously stretches and compresses the nerves. In many cases, this is made worse by swelling.
Patients typically describe a tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, clothing rubbing against the nipple areola can elicit a pins and needles sensation.
These symptoms usually resolve in about 6 to 8 weeks without intervention. In some cases, aggressive massage can desensitize the area and minimize the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Excessive nipple sensitivity almost always goes away.

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Hi! Sometimes during breast augmentation, the principal nerve to the nipples (the lateral cutanous branch of the 4th intercostal nerve) gets stretched or bruised. While the nerve is healing, you can have too much, too little, or abnormal (pins and needles) sensation in your nipples.

Sensation usually returns to normal in a few months. I have done many hundreds of breast augmentations, and have had only one patient that I know of in whom this problem remained permanent.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Nipple sensitivity after breast augmentation

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Nipple hypersensitivity is not that common but I find that this occurs when slightly larger implants are placed, which is due to the stretch of the nerves. The good news is that this does improve with time but can take up to 6 months. In the meantime, nipple shields to reduce the contact with the fabric can help as well as massaging of the breast.

Best wishes,

Dr. Ravi Somayazula

Ravi Somayazula, DO
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 72 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.