When considering breast augmentation, many women are concerned about loss of nipple sensation. For most women, any loss of sensitivity is temporary, but for a few it is permanent. A new study, recently published in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, has found that incision placement makes little or no difference, but breast implant size can significantly impact nipple sensitivity.
Researchers followed 20 women who had received breast implants for a little over a year and compared the results with nine size-matched women who had never had breast surgery. They used a Pressure-Specified Sensory Device to measure moving and static sensory thresholds at the upper and lower areola and nipple.
The tests found that there was no significant difference in nipple sensation between women who had breast augmentation through periareolar or inframammary incisions, but that women who chose larger implants experienced notably less nipple sensitivity than those with smaller implants.
An inframammary incision is an incision made underneath the breast in the crease where the breast and chest meet. The inframammary incision placement can leave a large, but well hidden scar.
The periareolar incision is made at the outer edge of the areola (the darker skin around the nipple), and has the least scar visibility of all incision placement options. Women who wish to minimize visible scarring as much as possible often choose the periareolar incision, but in the past it was believed that this incision placement carried the highest risk diminished nipple sensation.
According to the authors of this new study the findings indicate that, “plastic surgeons should feel comfortable counseling patients that augmentation mammoplasty by either the inframammary or periareolar approach results in no discernible differences in sensory outcomes.” This is encouraging news for women who want to avoid visible scarring while maintaining maximum nipple sensitivity.
The women with the most significant loss of nipple sensation were women who chose the greatest increase in breast size. The authors of the study say, “women who choose very large implants relative to their breast skin envelopes should be warned about potential adverse sensory sequelae within the nipple-areola complex.”
Some breast augmentation patients do choose very large breasts, but in reality most women seeking larger breasts choose about a C-cup. With the exception of those who have very little original breast tissue, this is not a drastic change.
Previously, many studies had been conducted regarding nipple sensitivity in women who had undergone breast reduction surgery, but relatively little information was available for women seeking an increase in breast size. In light of the new information, cosmetic surgeons can more accurately advise breast augmentation patients.
If you are considering breast enlargement surgery, talk to an experienced cosmetic surgeon today, and find out how the results of this new research may affect you.