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The Breast Sensitivity Side Effect

Oct 11, 2007
Aging skin, thinning of the skin, and decreasing breast size can contribute to changing breast sensitivity during your lifetime. Diseases such as breast cancer may affect breast sensitivity as well. Breast surgery can also cause these changes. While you might expect the side effect of sensation loss, the nipple area may in some cases become more sensitive. Sensitivity changes caused by surgery, however, are often temporary.

Breast sensitivity can change as a reaction to the changing breast size in surgery. Doctors will take special care to protect nerves in the breast during surgery; however, sometimes nerve paths are affected. Surgical techniques that do not cut the nerves connecting to the nipple are less likely to affect sensitivity.

In breast reduction surgery, there are techniques that do not undermine the breast tissue, which preserve normal sensitivity. In breast augmentation surgery, when placing a reasonably sized implant, doctors can identify the fourth intercostal nerve branch, which extends to the nipple. Your breast's normal sensitivity can be preserved when your doctor avoids interference with the fourth intercostal nerve branch. An implant that is too large, however, may stretch the nerve supply and affect sensitivity.

Testing to Determine Sensitivity Before Surgery

In order to measure changes in breast sensitivity, the doctor may perform a sensitivity test prior to surgery. Doctors may ultilize a variety of techniques in order to evaluate breast sensitivity and nipple erection. They may use energy-based stimulation of the nipple or a cotton ball to stimualte the nipple. However, scientifically calculating the results of nipple sensitity can be difficult.

What the Studies Say

The following study results will give you a better idea of what to expect:

* Tairych et al. Study: The study concluded that the normal denominators for breast sensitivity include that the skin in the superior quadrant was most sensitive, the nipple was least sensitive, and the areola was in the center of these sensitivity spectrums. (This means the skin over the upper part of the breast was most sensitive, the areola around the nipple was medium sensitive, and the nipple itself was least sensitive.)

* Courtiss and Goldwyn Clinical Study: Compared sensitivity before and after surgery, noting that small breasts are commonly more sensitive than large breasts. (This means that the smaller the breast, the greater the sensitivity overall.)

* Gonzalez et al Study: Examined 84 reduction mammoplasty patients to find that over 90 percent maintained nipple-areola sensitivity. The study also found sensitivity retention was higher when the excision of breast tissue was less than 550 gm.

(This means for breast-reduction, breast sensitivity stays the same in the nipple and areola after surgery for over 90 percent of the patients. If you have less than 550 gm removed, you have the most chance of keeping full breast sensitivity.)
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