Nipple desensitization after breast surgery

Nipple desensitization after breast surgery

02nd Jan 2017


The numbness of the nipples or the loss of sensation in the nipples may feel uncomfortable. It is a risk that can occur when you go through a breast surgery. It happens as a result of damage to the nerves. The damage can be caused by several factors, such as the size of the breast implants, the site where the incision was made, and the location of the implant in reference to the muscles.

Having nipple desensitization can be temporary or permanent. Sometimes, it can be regained by simply waiting for the affected nerves to heal. It may take some time but it if the damage is not severe, it will heal.

There are also ways to prevent nipple desensitization from ocurring. It is important to talk to your surgeon about this concern so that precautions can be made.

Another condition that can happen to the nipples after breast surgery is nipple hypersensitivity. Contrary to nipple desensitization, this condition makes your nipples so sensitive that they become painful. A protective cover can be used to help cope with this condition as you wait for the nerves to heal.

Nipple Desensitization

A breast surgery can lead to several different conditions. Some of these conditions are temporary while others are permanent. One of the common conditions post-surgical conditions is the desensitization of the nipples.

Women complain about the feeling of numbness or not being able to feel anything on or around their nipples. This is normally felt by women who just had the surgery, because their nerves were damaged during the surgery. The damage to the nerves can be mild, so it will eventually heal. If the damage is severe, the desensitization becomes permanent.

Causes of Nipple Desensitization

There are several reason that post-surgical nipple desensitization can occur. The factors shown below all affect the loss of sensitization, whether temporary or permanent.

– Size of the breast implants: The size of the breast implants greatly affect the occurrence of nipple desensitization. A breast implant that has a wider diameter can cause the surrounding nerves to be stretched, bruised, or even completely cut. The amount of damage the nerve has will also determine how long it takes for the nerve to heal and for the sensation to return. For nerves that are completely severed, there is a greater chance for the desensitization of the nipples to be permanent.

– Site of the incision: The location of the incision also plays a major factor in the occurrence of nipple desensitization. Those that have their incision made at the nipple or areola area are more prone to feel the numbness of the nipples, because the nerves are damaged.

– Position of the implants: The position of the implants in reference to the muscles is also a very important factor. The implants can either be placed above the muscle and just below the glands, or below the muscle, a bit farther away from the glands. Those that have their implants above the muscles are more likely to experience desensitization of the nipple because there is more pressure given to the nerves.

Regaining Nipple Sensation

Although desensitization of the nipples is a common condition that can be felt after breast surgery, it is still very uncomfortable, and the fear of not getting the sensation back is still there. It can be scary to experience it, but all that can be done is to wait. The numbness or loss of sensation of the breast can last from a few weeks to a year after the surgery. The duration will depend on how damaged the nerves are and how long it takes for the body to heal the nerves. Some suggest gentle massages help the nerves to heal and the nipples to regain sensation.

How to Minimize Nipple Desensitization

The numbness or loss of sensitization of the nipples is an odd and uncomfortable feeling. Although there is a chance for it to come back, it is best to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

– Carefully plan your breast surgery: You can work closely with your surgeon and tell them that nipple desensitization is one of your main concerns after the surgery. This way, you can choose to have the incision away from the nipple area. The surgeons can also place the implants at a sub muscular position to lessen the risk of nipple desensitization.

– Select the size of the implants carefully: One of the main causes of nipple desensitization is the pressure of the very large implants on the nerves. You can talk to your surgeon so that you can find a size that will satisfy you, but isn’t so large that it can lead to the loss of sensation of your nipples.

Nipple Hypersensitivity

Although nipple desensitization can occur after the breast surgery, there are also some women who experience hypersensitivity of the nipples. This is also caused by the stretching of the nerves after the surgery. This can also be painful, but after healing, it goes back to normal. In the meantime, the nipples can be protected by covering them with a small pad.


One of the risks involved in breast surgery is nipple desensitization. Depending on the degree of damage to the nerves, it can be temporary or permanent. There are several things that can increase your risk of having problems, such as the size of the implants, site of incision, and the position of the implants.

Although there is no direct treatment for it, the sensation of the nipples can come back after a few weeks or possibly after a year. Massage can help, but does not guarantee the bringing back of nipple sensation.

By carefully planning your breast surgery and working closely with your surgeon, you may be able to prevent nipple desensitization from happening.

Nipple hypersensitivity, the opposite of nipple desensitization, can also happen as a result of the nerve damage. All that can be done is to wait for the nerves to heal themselves. In the meantime, you can cover the nipples with a small pad to protect them.


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