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What Impact Does A Breast Augmentation Have on Nipple Sensation and the Ability to Breast Feed?


Does a breast augmentation impact one’s ability to breast feed?

What are the risks of loss of sensation of my nipples?

These are two questions that I am commonly asked by women contemplating breast augmentation surgery.

My answers to these questions are based both on clinical studies as well as my own experiences with patients. But, there also is a caveat: Even without having had any type of surgery on the breast, a certain percentage of women can’t breast feed. Several studies assessing this issue have determined this number to be somewhere in the range of 12% to 18%.

Given this, the general consensus is that when performed properly, the risk of total loss of sensation of the nipples or inability to breast feed is low.

How low?

This could depend on multiple variables including the skill, training and experience of the surgeon (plastic surgeon versus general surgeon, ENT, etc.), location of implant either in a submuscular or submammary pocket and incision location (inframammary, periareolar or transaxillary).

A study recently published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal investigated these two issues in detail though it evaluated results only related to the form stable teardrop shaped silicone implants manufactured by Allergan, the Natrelle® Style 410 – also known as the “gummy bear” implants. The results were assessed based on location of the incisions for implant placement – either inframammary or periareolar.

The findings revealed that the total combined incidence of sensory changes up to 10 years postoperatively with both incision locations was 0.1% which means that only 1 in 1000 women had some alteration of sensation of their nipples.

For practical purposes, this risk was found to be inconsequential.

Regarding impairment of breast feeding in women who had undergone breast augmentation, this risk was found to be the same as that in the general population. That is, there was no impact on the ability to breast feed in women who had undergone a breast enlargement surgery.

Though this is one study using one particular type of breast implant and generalizations can’t necessarily be made regarding all types of breast implants, the findings are extremely positive for women contemplating breast augmentation surgery who are concerned about these two issues.

For more information on breast augmentation surgery, breast implants or for any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform or to schedule your consultation, please contact my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona