Many women are concerned about losing nipple sensitivity after having breast surgery. This is a legitimate fear; after all, nipple sensitivity is closely related to sexual health and confidence.
Unfortunately, there is no short or straightforward response to this concern.
Nipple sensation after breast surgery can be increased, decreased, or may not change. Nipple sensitivity is decreased or eliminated when the nerves below the nipple are severed.
The likelihood of this occurrence is dependent on the type of breast surgery, the incisions used, and the way the patient heals.
Changes in nipple sensation are typical immediately following breast surgery, regardless of whether it is breast augmentation, reduction, or lift.
More often than not, this sensitivity returns to normal (or at least close to normal) within a few months of the operation.
After that time frame, patients will experience varying levels of nipple sensitivity.
Breast augmentation relies on implants to enhance the size, shape, or projection of the breasts.
Implants can sit above or below the pectoral muscle, and incisions can be made along the breast crease, around the areola, or in the armpit.
The implant must be inserted into the breast pocket without severing or damaging too many of the nerves below the nipple and areola to maintain nipple sensitivity.
This is most easily achieved when the implant is inserted through the breast crease and placed beneath the muscle.
These techniques put less strain and pressure on the nerves and usually create no lasting harm.
Placing the implant above the muscle or inserting it through an incision made around the areola is more likely to affect and limit sensitivity.
More often than not, breast augmentation patients do not experience a significant change in nipple sensitivity.
Breast Reduction and Breast Lift
Breast reductions and lifts include the removal of skin and the manipulation of tissues, making it far more likely that the nerves will be severed.
All breast reduction and breast lift options require an incision around the areola. This process makes it difficult to preserve the nerves.
There are times, especially during a free nipple breast reduction, when the nipple-areola complex is physically separated from the breast.
This variation severs the nerves completely, and will likely result in the loss of much if not all, sensitivity.
As long as the nipple-areola complex remains attached to the tissue, there is a chance for some sensitivity to return. Most often, this will happen over six to 12 months.
While damage is not certain, there is always a risk. Once the damage has been done, it is irreversible.
Many women find that the benefits provided through breast augmentation, breast reduction, or breast lift surgery far exceed the risk of losing sensitivity.