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Nipple and Breast Sensation Changes

Nipple and breast sensation changes after breast augmentation can cause an increase or decrease in sensitivity in the breast area.  Changes can vary from extreme sensitivity to no sensation at all.  The physiological response to stimuli (sexual and non-sexual) and the ability to nurse a baby can be adversely affected by nipple and breast sensation changes after breast augmentation.  These nipple and breast sensation changes may be temporary or permanent, depending upon the type of nerve damage or other injury caused during breast augmentation surgery.

Studies and Statistics

There have been a number of implant manufacturer studies conducted to determine the frequency of nipple and breast sensation changes experienced by women who have had breast augmentation surgery.  According to the largest implant manufacturers, Inamed and Mentor, studies suggest that between five and nine percent of patients experience intense changes in nipple sensation at three years and ten percent do at five years.  An additional ten percent of patients will experience a permanent loss of nipple sensation.  Seven to eight percent of patients experience intense skin sensation between three and five years after breast augmentation surgery.

This means that over thirty percent of all women will experience nipple and breast sensation changes after breast augmentation surgery.  There are some factors that can increase the risk of nipple and breast sensation changes following surgery.  Periareolar incision techniques pose a greater likelihood that the patient will experience nipple and breast sensation changes.  A few studies have also shown an increase in this risk for patients who undergo the transaxillary incision technique.  Nipple and breast sensation changes are possible with any type of incision when nerve damage is caused.

Nipple and breast sensation changes also seem to be more common in patients who choose subglandular, rather than submuscular, placement of the breast implants.   This complication is more likely with subglandular placement because there is a greater chance that the surgical procedure will interfere and damage the outer layers of the skin that are responsible for sensation.