BREAST AUGMENTATION AND NIPPLE SENSITIVITY
Women seek breast augmentation for various reasons: recovery of breast volume and loss of firmness due to weight loss, pregnancy, aging, or other reasons, for correction of breast asymmetry. Performed using FDA-approved saline or silicone implants, the operation improves breast volume and contour. It improves women’s confidence and body image by enhancing their figure and overall proportions. Hundreds of thousands of women chose to have breast augmentation surgery every year and report no adverse reactions. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) announced that this was the most commonly performed procedure in 2019. This common technique, however, is not without its concerns. One question many patients ask is whether a rise in breasts would affect the sensitivity of the nipple.
Changes in nipple sensation – feeling less sensation or more sensation in one or both nipples – are very common after breast augmentation or breast surgeries of any kind and depend on how the nerves were affected during surgery. Usually, improvements in the nipple sensation are transient, lasting from a matter of weeks to a few years. Several factors, such as breast shape and form of surgery, also play a role in how your breasts and nipples feel after breast implant surgery:
- Implant Size: A large breast implant in a small body frame could pull out the nerves in the breasts and cause the nipples to lose their sensitivity. Besides, if you do not have enough natural breast tissue, it would be difficult for surgeons to produce optimal results for the operation. To be on the safe side, select the size of the implant that is right for your body type. The implant should have a smaller diameter than the breast.
- Incision: An incision made over or around the dark region around your nipples carries the greatest risk of loss of nipple sensation as it can trigger nerve damage in this area. This form of the incision can also damage the nerves of milk ducts and may affect breast-feeding. Your surgeon will discuss the type of incision with you and prescribe the alternative that is best for you.
- Placement: Implant position is also an essential factor that can influence the sensitivity of the nipple. Breast implants may be replaced under the muscles of the chest or between the muscles of the chest and the tissues of the breast. Implants placed above the muscle, but under the milk glands, are at higher risk of loss of sensation. Placing breast implants under the muscles can prevent damage to the nerves and also conceal the feeling of the implant. Discuss these choices at the appointment with your plastic surgeon.
The surgeon’s choice of procedure plays a crucial role in the sensitivity of the patient’s postoperative nipple. The best breast enlargement surgeons take care to protect the main nerves that attach to the nipple. This involves recommending the size of the breast implant that is suitable for your body shape and frame. Breast implants that are too big for your body can stretch your skin and damage your nerves and affect your breast/nipple sensation.
Although some women have a long-lasting loss of sensation, the loss of sensitivity in most patients lasts only a short time. Reliable surgeons warn their patients that it can take a few weeks or even months to recover all the sensation in their breasts or nipples. Your sensitivity should be healed by the time you recover fully. In certain cases, patients will need to wait a full year as their nerves may require time to recover. Regular self-massage of the nipples and breast tissue (as suggested by your surgeon) can accelerate the recurrence of the post-op nipple sensation.