Nipple Sensation and Breast Augmentation Surgery

If you are considering breast augmentation surgery, you may be wondering whether the procedure will affect sensation in your nipples. Breast augmentation surgery involves making an incision in or near each breast, and placing breast implants either under the glandular (breast) tissue or under the pectoral (chest) muscle, thus subjecting the tissue and nerves in the area to a certain degree of trauma. So, loss of nipple sensation following breast augmentation surgery is a valid concern. Below, Dr. Joshua Greenwald, a leading New York City plastic surgeon, shares his insight on the matter.

The Long and the Short of It

The long and the short of the matter is that breast augmentation may cause changes in nipple sensation. These changes may include decreased nipple sensitivity, numbness in the nipple area or even heightened nipple sensitivity. Fortunately, a total loss of nipple sensation following breast augmentation surgery only occurs in a minority of patients (in approximately 15 percent of breast augmentation patients nationwide). Also, many patients experience temporary changes in nipple sensation immediately after breast augmentation surgery, but regain more normal nipple sensation about three months after surgery.

How to Decrease Your Risk of Permanent Nipple Numbness

It is impossible to say for certain which breast augmentation patients will experience changes in nipple sensation after surgery. However, many plastic surgeons agree that by following the tips below, you can decrease your risk of experiencing a permanent loss of nipple sensation following surgery.

  • Undergo breast augmentation surgery with a highly experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Greenwald. Under-qualified cosmetic surgeons may inflict more trauma on local nerves and tissue than necessary.
  • Consider positioning breast implants below the chest muscle (i.e., submuscular placement) instead of behind breast tissue (i.e., subglandular placement). With subglandular placement, Dr. Greenwald positions breast implants near the surface of skin, where they are more likely to interfere with the nerves in the skin and impact nipple sensation.
  • Reconsider the subareolar incision method. With a subareolar incision approach, Dr. Greenwald places the needed incision around the outer edge of the areola, a good place to conceal the incision scar. However, this type of incision method may also increase the risk of a complete loss of nipple sensitivity because it is difficult to leave the nerve branch leading into the breast completely intact with this incision approach.
  • Don’t choose breast implants that are too big for your frame. Choosing breast implants that are too large for your body may strain the nerves leading into the breast, thus affecting nipple sensation.

If the risk of permanently losing nipple sensation following breast augmentation surgery is unacceptable to you, you may want to reconsider the procedure. Breast augmentation with breast implants does carry with it this risk as well as several others. However, many breast enhancement patients agree that having more voluptuous breasts is well worth the risk of experiencing changes in nipple sensitivity.

To schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Greenwald to learn more about breast augmentation surgery, please contact his practice by calling (914) 421-0113.

Dr. Joshua Greenwald is a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City who studied and trained at prestigious educational institutions including Columbia University, Emory University, and New York University School of Medicine. His keen aesthetic eye and refined surgical techniques have led him to be a top choice for cosmetic face, breast, and body procedures in NYC. His exceptional patient care has earned him the distinction of “Top Doc” by both Westchester Magazine and Castle & Connolly for over 10 years running. Dr. Greenwald is an active member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Medical Association, and the Westchester County Medical Society.