After a woman has received breast implants, she is likely to be flooded with a wide range of emotions and thoughts. Excitement, exhilaration, and boosted self-esteem are just a few of the feelings that patients typically report immediately after surgery. However, the breast augmentation recovery period is also often accompanied by questions about postoperative symptoms and results. One of the most common concerns for breast augmentation patients is a loss of nipple sensitivity and/or numbness in the entire breast. While this can be a perfectly normal side effect of surgery and is usually temporary, it can, understandably, make patients nervous.
Board-certified plastic surgeons Dr. James N. Romanelli and Dr. John Layliev, along with the exceptional and caring team at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery, are committed to educating their breast augmentation patients in the Long Island, NY area on what to expect before, during, and after surgery so that the entire process is as smooth and comfortable as possible. Read on to learn more about what you can expect during your breast augmentation recovery, including how long you may experience breast and nipple numbness.
Why are my nipples numb after breast augmentation?
It can come as a surprise to many patients that getting breast implants affects their nipple sensitivity, though your surgeon should cover these details during your preoperative consultation. This loss of nipple sensation is caused by a disruption in the nerves during surgery and is extremely common, though some patients may be more likely to experience it than others. Some of the factors that can contribute to a higher risk for temporary breast or nipple numbness include:
- Implant size: Patients who select a larger implant size are more likely to experience a loss of nipple sensation, as the tissue has to be stretched considerably to accommodate the implant. In addition to the cc size, the diameter of the implant also plays a large role in this.
- Body type: Likewise, women with a smaller frame or smaller breasts may be most prone to a temporary loss of sensation. Again, this is due to the significant amount of stretching that will occur with breast implant placement.
- Implant position: Women whose implants are placed above the pectoral muscle typically experience numbness more often, or to a greater degree, than those who have the implants placed underneath the muscle.
- Incision placement: A breast augmentation that utilizes areolar incisions or includes a breast lift may be more likely to result in a loss of nipple sensation than a surgery involving only an incision in the inframammary crease.
- Health history: Certain lifestyle or health issues can also play a role in whether or not a woman experiences nipple numbness after breast augmentation. For example, patients with a history of smoking or nicotine use are at higher risk for numbness and other complications, while women who have breastfed may be at lower risk for a loss of sensation due to their breasts and skin already having been stretched out.
During your initial consultation at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Romanelli or Dr. Layliev will explain all of your surgical options in detail, answer your questions at length, and thoroughly discuss all of the risks and side effects that are possible after breast augmentation, including a temporary loss of nipple sensation.
How long will my breasts stay numb after breast augmentation?
Throughout your breast augmentation recovery, you should begin to experience a slow return of nipple and breast sensation as the neural pathways heal and re-establish themselves. Some women begin to notice a return of feeling after just a few weeks, while others may be numb for several months. In many cases, it can take up to 12 – 18 months for Long Island, NY area patients to regain normal sensation in their breasts and nipples. It is normal to experience shooting, sharp pains, or a burning sensation in the nipples as the nerves begin to awaken.
Though it is extremely rare, a permanent loss of nipple sensation can occur after breast surgery. If a woman has not had a return of feeling in her nipples two years after breast augmentation, it is unlikely that the nerves will ever regenerate. Again, the risk of this complication is very low, but it is something to be aware of. At the other end of the spectrum, some patients actually report heightened nipple sensitivity as a result of their surgery.
How can I regain nipple sensation after getting breast implants?
While there are some things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance for complete and proper healing after your breast augmentation, the most important thing you can do is not rush your recovery. It is essential that patients allow themselves an adequate amount of time to heal and closely follow their surgeon’s postoperative guidelines. These will include getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, taking any prescribed medications, wearing supportive undergarments, and avoiding certain physical activities. Your surgeon may also recommend light massage techniques, supplements, or other tips to promote the return of nipple sensation after breast augmentation.
To learn more about the temporary side effects that you may experience after getting breast implants, as well as the dramatic physical and emotional benefits of breast augmentation itself, schedule a consultation with Dr. James N. Romanelli and Dr. John Layliev, our board-certified plastic surgeons. At Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery, in Huntington, NY, we look forward to helping you achieve your ultimate aesthetic goals so that you look – and feel – better than ever!