Women may get breast implants to help them look better, but they don’t want to sacrifice feeling in their breasts for it. For most women who decide to undergo breast augmentation, the area around their nipples is much more sensitive or even painful during the first few weeks after surgery. The pain can be caused not only by the overall effects of the surgery, but also by the stretching the nerve needs to do to accommodate your new implants. But as their bodies continue to heal, gradually, the nipples will return to their normal sensitivity. This usually happens within two to three months of the completion of your surgery.

However, for a few women who have breast augmentation, the change in sensation doesn’t disappear—and they continue to experience either extreme sensitivity or, more commonly, numbness or decreased sensation, long after the breast implants have been completed.

While any change in breast sensitivity that develops after surgery should be discussed with your plastic surgeon, a decrease in nipple sensitivity is a far more troubling symptom that could signal nerve damage.

If you’re concerned that your surgery will result in a change in nipple sensitivity, follow these tips to help guide you toward the safest surgery possible.

  • Consider having your breast implants placed beneath your chest muscles. Implants that are placed closer to your skin, such as those just behind the mammary glands, are more likely to interfere with the nerves in your skin and impact your nipple sensitivity.
  • Reconsider a subareolar surgical scar. In this type of breast augmentation surgery, surgeon creates the opening for inserting the breast implants by cutting into the breast right along the edge of the nipple. This allows the surgeon to blend the scar into the nipple area, where it’ll be less noticeable. But the tradeoff for a less noticeable scar is that it’s easy to cut the nerve branch that leads into the breast, damaging the nerve and impacting nipple sensitivity.
  • Be moderate in your augmentation. Bigger isn’t always better—and adding the largest breast implants to your body could overstretch the nerves that run into your breast, resulting in unpleasant changes in nipple sensitivity.
  • Remember that changes in sensitivity are common—and some of these changes may not even be related to your plastic surgery. Other factors, including weight loss and gain, aging, thinning skin and pregnancy, can all cause changes to your breasts that could impact their sensitivity.