What is the chance of change or loss of breast sensation?

I'm thinking about having breast augmentation with mentor saline implants placed under the muscle with incision in the armpit. I had a consultation six years ago and never went through with the surgery. Now I'm 42 and I'm still obsessing about whether or not to do it. I'm concerned that there will be a loss or change of nipple sensation which is important to me as my breasts are a big part of my orgasmic experience. What is the chance of a change or loss of breast sensation?

Doctor Answers 8

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
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

What is the chance of change or loss of breast sensation?

The chance of permanent loss of nipple sensation is probably less than 5%. This risk should be the same for all incision locations.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

Change or loss of sensation after breast augmentation can occur in 5% of patients

Thank you for your question.  Although some studies have reported as high as 5% change in breast or nipple sensation after breast augmentation, the studies are very old and modern techniques are much better.

Sensory loss is very surgeon and technique dependent.  The rate for experience surgeons who are board certified will be less than and other surgeons who are not.  In my experience submuscular breast augmentation through an inframammary crease incision is less chance of sensory disturbance.

What is the chance of change or loss of breast sensation?

     I think that the percentage is probably very low but I think that is technique dependent.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Sensory loss??

Most surgeons quote a risk of 2% or so of sensory loss, based on data.  I am not sure that it isn't wither lower, nor if not unnoticed by some. 

It is not clear that the incision or position choice matters. Those who feel it does prefer under the muscle placement, and not using the areolar incision.  

It sounds like you have made your choice over the past 6 years. Your risk/benefit ratio may suggest not doing surgery is best.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Nipple numbness after breast aug.

In my experience most patients get a degree of transient change in sensation of the breast skin and nipple area but usually it resolves.  The risk of permanent numbness may not be more than 1 or 2 percent.  This is regardless of incision and is related to the position of the deep nerves which is impossible to predict.  The 1 or 2 percent number is low but not zero.  Keep that in mind as you talk with your surgeon.

Terrence Murphy, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Nipple sensation following breast augmentation

Statistically, the risk of damaging the nerve supply to your breast/nipple is in the range of 2-10% of patients, depending upon whose study you are reading.  Of those women, 85% will recover full, normal sensation within a two year period.  Those are the official numbers.  My dad was in practice for 40 years and I have been here for almost 24 years now.  Between us, we have done thousands of breast augmentations and I can only think of ONE patient who ever had a permanent loss of sensation on one side.  Still, it is listed as a risk on our consent forms because it is a possibility, even if it is a rare one.

Edwin C. Pound, III, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

What is the chance of change or loss of breast sensation?

The potential for loss/change of nipple/areola complex sensation is approximately 5% with breast augmentation surgery. Given that nipple sensation is a  “big part of your orgasmic experience”, you may be best off avoiding breast surgery. Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,486 reviews

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