There are risks with any surgery. And numbness... it's a risk with breast augmentation surgery.
A change in sensation is the second most common complaint following breast augmentation, after capsular contracture. (But keep in mind that over 95% of women who've had a breast augmentation say the results met or exceeded their expectations!)
Loss Of Sensation
Right after breast surgery you will likely experience some temporary numbness. It's a bit like the numb feeling after you've visited the dentist!
And I have to tell you, permanent numbness is possible :( but no matter what size the implant is or who does the surgery the risk is very low.
Whatever size your natural breasts are and whatever size implant you get, having an implant placed will stretch your nerves, and disruption to the blood supply to the nerves is the cause of their sensation rest stop!
The biggest risks for sensation loss are:
- If you go big - If there is a big pre- to post-op size difference in your breasts then you're more likely to experience numbness as there's more surgical dissection (the cutting bit) to create a pocket for the implant, and the tissues are stretched more.
- If you have a nipple (areolar) incision - There is a slightly increased risk of sensation loss (to the nipples) with breast implants placed through a nipple incision. And there is less chance of breast/nipple sensation loss with implants placed through an inframammary fold (IMF - underboob) incision.
- If more surgical dissection is needed - If your breast surgery is more complex (e.g. a lift) it obviously involves more dissection and that means more chance of nerve damage/disruption.
Where Will I Be Numb?
Your breasts shouldn't be totally numb but you may find certain areas of your breasts feel numb (for me it was my underboob area) and each breast may also feel different.
You can also experience nipple numbness after surgery. Again, because nerves in the area are stretched.
How Long Will Numbness Last?
You can expect any temporary post-surgical numbness to last at least until any swelling has gone (up to 8 weeks after breast surgery). As swelling is going down and your breast implants start to settle your tissues will start recovering and nerves will become less stretched. And... then you get to experience the *joy* that are "zingers"!
Zingers (total non-medical term!) are what we in the breast augmentation community like to call the rubber-band snap pains of nerves healing!
They can take your breath away for sure, but they are a positive sign that your nerves are recovering and sensation is returning. These pains are usually most intense in the weeks following breast surgery and will have faded and disappeared within 3-6 months.
BUT I've heard of some women getting some ‘a bit late to the nerve party’ pains randomly out of nowhere up to a year after breast surgery! So, don't be disheartened if your body is a go-slow to regaining sensation.
What I hope you'll take from this is that (like every other part of the boobie journey!) you just need to be patient (Boobie Mantra!).
What you feel, when you feel and how you feel is another unique-to-you part of your boobie journey.
Sensation changes can go the other way too! There is the chance of hyper-sensitivity after breast implant surgery. So, some women get more sensation after a breast augmentation. Nerves after all are disrupted and if they weren’t fully awake before, being jiggled around during surgery can stimulate them!
Be sure to pick a surgeon who is Board Certified AND who performs breast augmentations regularly. And make sure in your consultations that you discuss all of the risks of this breast surgery so you make decisions that you're comfortable with!
The bottom line is that the risk of sensation changes exist with breast augmentation but, the risk is low. If you're not willing to risk the chance of changes to sensation you should re-think if the risks outweigh your desire to have a breast augmentation. Ultimately you need to make a decision where you're comfortable with the outcomes :)