Nipple Sensitivity After Breast Augmentation: What Are the Facts?
By Mary Lee Peters MD | April 2, 2012
BREAST AUGMENTATION surgery remains the most frequently performed cosmetic surgery in the United States. The demand for BREAST IMPLANT SURGERY increased 4% in 2011 to 307,000 women according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
As its popularity grows, women are becoming more proactive about educating themselves about their decision. One of the most significant concerns is about sensitivity to the nipple post operatively. Women want to know the statistics, not just “opinions” not backed up by any evidence. They want to make fully informed decisions.
An excellent study on this subject was published in the October 2011 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. A plastic surgeon from Rome collaborating with a British colleague published data on 1222 patients (that is 2444 breasts!) examining nerve function after breast enlargement surgery. They reported the following:
- Half of all patients experienced a TEMPORARY change in sensitivity that goes away by itself in 6-8 weeks.
- At six months, 94.8% of women had normal sensation, unchanged from before surgery.
- Large breast implants did not increase the incidence of sensory change.
- Patient age did not factor into sensory change.
- Placing the implant above or below the pectoral muscle did not make a difference in sensation.
- A decrease in feeling was present in 2.7% of women post op. Discomfort was noted for 3.5%.
- The only risk factor identified for altering nerve sensation was use of the periareolar incision.
In fact the periareolar incision resulted in more than double the number of women with altered sensation. Fortunately this sensory change affected only a small number of women. If a scar around the areola is what you prefer, it is good to know the facts up front.