The nipple gets its sensation from multiple nerves that travel around the body from the sides of the breast. It is my goal to maintain the main nerve supply to the nipple when I perform a breast reduction. However, on rare occasions, the anatomy of the patient is different than the textbooks and the nipple sensation can diminish or even go away.
This is a relatively rare complication, but needs to be addressed prior to surgery. On occasion, the nipple sensation can actually increase because the heaviness of the breast that caused nerve stretch (and decreased sensation) is relieved and now the nerve sensation functions properly.
Similar to the nerve anatomy, the blood supply to the nipple is also from multiple areas on the chest. I maintain at least two of the main blood supplies to the nipple to reduce the risk of nipple loss after surgery.
This is an extremely rare complication but can have an increased risk in patients who may be undergoing a very large breast reduction with lift, in smokers (who I don’t operate on), or in patients who have had multiple breast lift surgeries.
All of these patients potentially have decreased flow of blood to their tissues. I have a lot of experience with revision breast lift and secondary breast surgery and I take extra care to maintain the blood supply in these scenarios.