Breast Lift And Nipple Sensation

Patients undergoing breast lifts frequently worry whether they will retain nipple sensitivity after surgery. Any transitory change in nipple sensation is almost always just temporary, and it normally goes away 6 to 8 weeks after the breast lift treatment. This article also explains how to restore nipple sensitivity and breast lift scars healed.

The nerve supply to the nipple may be disturbed after surgery, which is why nipple feeling may be altered. The nerve may have been sliced, or if an implant is used, the nerve may have been stretched.

Some signals, usually itching, tingling, or an occasional “shooting” sensation, may be produced while the nerves regrow. While some patients could feel their sensations decline, others might feel their sensations intensify.

Breast Lift And Nipple Sensation

The risk of losing sensation to the nipple area is a big concern for many patients who are having breast surgery, whether it is a reduction, implants or a lift. For some patients, this concern can be so great, even with a very low incidence, to make them reconsider having the procedure.

The Nerve

The principle nerve to the nipple area exits the spinal cord in the back from the area of the forth thoracic vertebrae and wraps around the chest to the side of the breast where it generally stays deep in the breast tissue until it turns and becomes more superficial in the area of the nipple and the surrounding areola where it has several branches.

With most breast lifts, the dissection during surgery generally stays relatively superficial so that the breast tissue over the nerve protects it from injury. It is more vulnerable in and around the nipple area which is one reason why many surgeons try to avoid an incision around the edge of the areola during breast implant surgery. With a breast lift, the surgeon is not generally tunneling deep into the breast tissue where the nerve is generally hiding.

During a breast reduction, a considerable amount of breast tissue is removed from all layers of the breasts, particularly on the side of the breast where the nerve is most vulnerable. That is why a breast reduction surgery has the highest incidence of numbness to the nipples compared to breast lifts and breast augmentation surgery.

Percentage Risk

The risk of permanent numbness to the nipple and areola, based on national studies, is around 35% with a breast reduction compared to a breast lift, where it is less than 10%. Although the skin incisions are similar with both procedures, with a reduction, actual breast tissue is removed in order to make the breasts smaller, As a result, the risk of injury to the nerves to the nipple area is higher.

Many patients who have very large breasts or severe sagging (ptosis) comment that they have very little sensation to the nipple area to begin with. This may be because of significant stretching on these nerves with breast growth or drooping. It is interesting that in some of these cases, patients will report that they have more sensation after surgery than they had before their procedure.

Temporary Numbness

Partial numbness after breast surgery is usually temporary and generally goes away after a few months but it can take up to two years for complete recovery. This is especially true of the skin on the lower pole of the breasts below the nipples where significant numbness is the norm after breast lifts and reductions and is not uncommon with breast implant surgeries. This area almost always returns to normal sensation after several months; however, certain patients will have some permanent loss of sensation to that area.


Occasionally after a breast procedure, patients will experience an extra or hypersensitivity to the nipple area, which can be bothersome. This is believed to be secondary to a minor injury to the nerve to the nipple and is generally temporary but can take several months to resolve.


Can You Feel Your Nipples After a Breast Lift?

More and more women today are choosing to enhance the appearance of their breasts by having a breast lift. A breast lift, also called a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure intended to correct the size, contour and elevation of sagging breasts. It can alter your figure and revive your confidence by restoring the shape you once had, or by giving you a new, perky profile. A breast lift works by reshaping and lifting sagging or loose breast tissue that has occurred as a result of pregnancy, breastfeeding, the effects of gravity or the aging process.

There are various approaches to breast lift surgery. During a consultation in Gainesville, Dr. Allison will recommend the best approach based on your preferences, body shape and degree of ptosis (sagging).

During breast lift surgery in Gainesville, Dr. Allison removes the excess breast tissue and skin and moves the nipple and areola to a higher position. If breast implants are being used, they will be inserted. Then the skin surrounding the areola is brought down and together to create a new breast shape. Lastly, all incisions are closed with sutures, often strategically placed under the breast so they are not noticeable.

A common concern among breast lift patients is if they will lose nipple sensation following surgery. In almost all cases, any change in nipple sensation is only temporary and will usually resolve within 6 to 8 weeks following the breast lift procedure. 

The reason nipple sensation may be affected is because the nerve supply to the nipple can be disrupted during the operation. This can be due to cutting the nerve or if an implant is used it can stretch the nerve. 

As the nerves are growing back it can cause certain signals — typically itching, tingling or an intermittent “shooting” sensation. Some patients may experience decreased sensation, while others experience increased sensation. 


A breast lift procedure (mastopexy) will lift up sagging breasts, providing them with more support and making them look more young and full. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the number of breast lift procedures grew by 70 percent between 2000 and 2012. Although breast lifts can be done by themselves, they are often done in conjunction with a breast reduction or a breast augmentation procedure in order to provide the breasts with a more natural placement on the chest. Depending upon the size of the breasts and the amount of lift to be performed, the nipple and surrounding areola (the darkened skin just around the nipple) may also have to be either repositioned or resized to look more natural with the new position of the breasts. In cases in which the nipple must be repositioned or resized in conjunction with a breast lift procedure, there is a risk of loss of nipple sensation.


There are a number of factors that can cause sagging breasts. Pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as age, are perhaps the two most common reasons. Other factors include dramatic fluctuations in weight and simple heredity. Breast sagging occurs when the skin loses elasticity over time. This often leads to stretch marks because the skin has become overstretched due to the weight of the breasts.


There are three basic incision patterns used for a breast lift. The most simple, which is used in cases where it is mainly just the areola and nipple that need to be repositioned higher. An incision is made around the areola, and the areola and nipple are repositioned slightly higher on the breast.

In a lollipop incision pattern, one incision is made around the areola, and a second incision is made from the bottom of the areola vertically down to the inframammary crease (the point at which the lower part of the breast meets the chest wall). The underside of the breast is then pulled closer together as the nipple and areola are repositioned.

The third incision pattern is recommended when the nipple has fallen below the inframammary crease. In addition to the lollipop incision pattern, a third incision is made that follows the curve of the inframammary crease.


In order to reposition the areola and nipple, Dr. Mark Deuber will make a series of incisions to move the nipple and areola as a single unit. However, as with any surgical procedure, there will be a certain amount of damage to the nerves leading to the areola and nipple. When these nerves are cut, this can lead to changes in nipple sensation. Over time, as the body heals, the nerves will re-establish new pathways and sensation should return.

Dr. Deuber has performed many successful breast lift procedures in his practice, and in almost all cases, any change in nipple sensation is temporary and will usually resolve within six to eight weeks following the breast lift procedure.

To learn more we invite you to contact David W. Allison, MD at 703-754-8228 or website to schedule a breast lift consultation.

How To Restore Nipple Sensitivity

The nipples may become less sensitive or lose their form over time as a result of breastfeeding, breast implants, or aging. We can aid in regaining some of the lost sensitivity with PRP injections for a more enjoyable encounter.

Breast Lift Scars Healed

For around six weeks following surgery, incisions near the breast area will likely still be red and lumpy. The incision site will begin to form a solid healing ridge after six weeks. This strong ridge won’t start to soften for another six months or more. For people with extremely fair or dark skin, it could take a year or two for the scar to fully recover and show its true color. When compared to the surrounding skin, the scar may appear to be noticeably darker, lighter, or even the same shade.

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