Why is the Skin on my Breasts and my Nipples So Tender After my Breast Augmentation?

I had a breast augmentation 2 weeks ago. (Inframammary incision, sub glandular, silicone, 375cc) They look great and soreness is minimal but my skin is tender and my nipples hurt. It feels like the pain in when you are first starting to nurse a baby. I hate to touch them because it almost burns but I have to in order to do my exercises. Is this normal or should I be concerned? Is it from the stretching? How long will this last? Help!

Doctor Answers 19

Nipple and skin sensitivity after breast augmentation

The nerve to your nipple is the 4th intercostal nerve. It is a unique nerve supplying sensual sensation. The remainder of your skin is supplied by standard sensory nerves. However all nerves are simply living electrical wires and these living "wires" have insulation around them called myelin. This myelin layer can often disappear if it is stretched or traumatized, which can be expected after breast augmentation. Sometimes this change in the insulation layer can cause decreased sensation(numbness), but often it causes hypersensitivity. (increased sensitivity) These nerves with no insulation resemble  "raw wires" which can explain this hypersensitivity. 

Fortunately any decreased or increased sensation will usually normalize fairly quickly over the first few weeks as the myelin layer returns. 

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Hypersensitivity after breast implants not uncommon

Nipples may be very sensitive after breast augmentation through any of the available incisions.

Nipple sensitivity after BA is due to the nerves stretching around the implant.  It is a temporary condition.  In my practice:

  1. Nipple sensitivity is more common in young women who are a B cup and increase by approximately one cup
  2. It is most likely to resolve within two months
  3. Can be improved with a short course of anti-inflammatory meds and high dose vitamin E

Mario Diana, MD
Plano Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Tenderness after BA

Tenderness is common after surgery because the experience is traumatic to your body. Your body also has to adjust to your implants. Your nerves will gradually regenerate and the sensation will subside. This can take a few weeks. Pain medication should help.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Why is the skin on my breasts and my nipples so tender after my breast augmentation?

Hello! Thank you for your question! 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.  The sensation that you describe is likely your nerves regenerating.  Try different textures when showering and putting on lotion to re-educate the nerves. 

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 26 reviews

Nipple sensitivity after breast augmentation

It is very common for patients to complain of nipple sensitivity and pain after breast augmentation surgery. Some people state they are hypo sensitive (less) or hyper (more) sensitive. In your case, it sounds like you are experiencing the ladder. In most cases, the sensitivity and the pain you are experiencing will decrease over time and on its own. There are some solutions to help with decreasing your discomfort and sensitivity, and that is something that I would speak to your doctor about directly so you can find a solution to help with the discomfort while your nipples fully heal and return to normal. 

Peter J. Capizzi, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Skin on breasts and nipple tenderness

Thank you for the question. You are still early in the post operation recovery stage. It is not uncommon to feel pain, itchiness, tenderness, and swelling during this period.  Nipple sensitivity would gradually improve over time as well.  It usually takes about 8-12 weeks for the wounds to heal and around 4-6 months for the implants to fully settle. It would be best to visit your board-certified plastic surgeon and get a full assessment for your concerns. Best of luck. Dr. Michael Omidi.

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Sensitive nipples after augmentation

Thank you for your question. Hypersensitivity to the nipple or other breast regions is normal after surgery. The nerves may have been stretched and transiently down for the count. As they wake up, they want to let you know they are still there by over signalling their presence. Hence very sensitive nipples. Things typically do resolve with time. In the meantime, you can take two approaches. Compression or tape to minimize friction on the nipples. The other approach could be desensitization with over stimulation (e.g. vibration).

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Tender nipples and breasts after breast augmentation.

       Increased sensation (hyperesthesia) in the nipples and the surrounding areola following breast augmentation is not uncommon. After an implant is placed the surrounding breast tissue and skin stretch. This stretching can result in temporary alterations in the surrounding nerves .
Very often this stretching of the nerves can result in increased feeling in the nipple and the surrounding areola which can be very uncomfortable. Very commonly patients complain of discomfort with light touch such as their clothing rubbing on the area. Many patients cover the nipple and the surrounding area some type of bandage to prevent the discomfort.
       As the breast heals and swelling diminishes the nerves recover and normal feeling returns. Recovery is usually complete within 3 months rarely however it might take up to 6 months.

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

These symptoms typical, and should resolve in 6-8 weeks.

Breast augmentation is often accompanied by pain, swelling and nipple hypersensitivity. These are essentially normal findings which usually resolve on their own. The burning sensation that you describe is known as dysesthesia. It’s very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep. The phenomena occurs when nerves are compressed or stretched. During and after breast augmentation surgery, this is exactly what happens to the nerves that supply the nipple. The breast implant underneath the nipple compresses and stretches the soft tissue and nerves that supply the nipple and areola. In many cases, this process is made worse by swelling.
Patients typically describe a painful tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, clothing rubbing against the area can elicit a pins and needles sensation.
These symptoms usually resolve in 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.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Skin and nipple sensitivity

Dear JB,
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. 
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 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.