Permanent loss of nipple sensation after breast reduction surgery. What are the chances of getting sensitivity back?

I got breast reduction surgery almost 3 weeks ago, and one of my biggest fears was a loss of nipple sensation. The night after surgery I gave my left one a poke and thankfully it was sensitive; hypersensitive even. My right breast on the other hand was significantly larger than my left and therefore the surgery was more extensive. Unfortunately my right nipple is still numb. No sensation at all. However it still gets erect when touched. What are the chances of getting sensitivity back?

Doctor Answers 8

Changes in Nipple Sensation

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A change in nipple sensation after a breast reduction is a common complication which will usually subside 4-6 weeks post op. With that being said, some women heal faster than others and vice versa. If this occurrence continues within the next few months, consult your surgeon and carefully discuss your options so that he/she can further advise the next steps to take. 

Nipple Sensation

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If the erectile muscle in the nipple is still functioning, the likelihood that sensation returns is very good - it can take several months though, so be patient.

Too early to judge outcome

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At this point in your recovery, it is much too soon to be worried about the outcome. It takes time for things to heal. There may be sensation changes for up to 2 years. It may be 6 months or more before the shape has reached its final look. Be patient.

Permanent loss of nipple sensation after breast reduction surgery. What are the chances of getting sensitivity back?

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Hello and thank you for your question!

Do you know what technique was used? Normally, within 3 to 2 months after surgery, the nipple sensitivity should be back to normal. However, in some cases, due to the elevation of the nipple complex, the areola complex, & due to the effort in moving that complex higher sensibility can be lost. In some surgeries, when they reattach the nipple, it's sensitivity is permanently lost.

If you could provide more details on the surgery, we would be glad to provide you with more accurate advice.

Please consult a board certified plastic surgeon!

Good luck!

Enriquillo Clime Rivera, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Permanent loss of Nipple sensation very rare.

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After performing  thousands of breast reduction  surgeries, I can comfortably tell you that because you have loss of sensation at 3 weeks does not mean that you will have complete loss of sensation at 1 year.   I have had permanent loss of sensation in two patients , both of whom were large reductions.  That's a very small percentage, but if you are that person, it can be problematic and even depressing for some patients.   However, at 3 weeks it is entirely too early to know what the result will be at 52 weeks.  Although I am certain that your surgeon discussed the possibility with you, it does not make the "waiting period" any less problematic.  In general , having erectile function of the nipple is usually a good sign that at least some sensation will return.  

Michael Olding, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon

Return of nipple sensitivity after reduction

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Hello there and thank you for your question,
The sensation returns in most patients nipples over a period of months. I tell my patients that up to 1/3 will have temporary loss of nipple sensation while 5-10% will have hypersensitivity. Less than 5% of patients will have permanent reduced nipple sensation. If you have any ongoing concerns you would be best served addressing them to your surgeon.
All the best,

James Southwell-Keely, MD, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon

Sensation of nipple and areola after breast reduction

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A large breast reduction may result in permanent loss of nipple sensation and inability to breast feed. Sensory innervation to the nipple and areola is anomalous can can not be predicted with certainty. Many months are necessary before sensory recovery can be expected if at all..

Michael Eisemann M.D.
Triple Board Certified

Nipple sensation

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I hope your recovery is going well.  It can take the nerves "time" to heal after surgery.  I tell my patients to give the nerves a year or so to heal.  If nipple sensation has not returned by a year it is unlikely to do so although it is not impossible.  People have regained nipple sensation 2-3 years from surgery.  Nerves are very sensitive to surgery from swelling, stretching and cutting and it can take them awhile to recover.  At times nerves are unable to grow back correctly and loss of sensation results.  Continue to give it time as you are very early in the healing process.  

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.