Breast sensibility after bilateral risk-reducing mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction: a prospective study

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2013 Nov;66(11):1521-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2013.06.054. Epub 2013 Aug 13.


The demand for risk-reducing mastectomy (RRM) to avoid breast cancer has increased over the last several years, and knowledge of the outcome after this prophylactic surgical procedure is important. The primary aim of this study was to prospectively compare breast sensibility before and after RRM in a consecutive series of women. The study also investigated whether the nipples were less numb if the nipple areola complexes (NACs) were spared compared with regrafted nipple tips. Forty-six women who selected bilateral RRM with immediate reconstruction using implants at the Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden, were included in the study. The median patient age at the time of surgery was 39 years (range 26-58). All patients were evaluated preoperatively and at least 2 years postoperatively (median 29 months). Tactile, thermal and nociceptive cutaneous sensibilities were studied with quantitative techniques. The patients at the postoperative evaluation completed a questionnaire about subjective feelings in both breasts. The results showed that breast sensibility is significantly impaired after RRM. Additionally, the ability to experience sexual sensations in the breast is often lost. An NAC-sparing surgery did not result in better nipple sensibility.

Keywords: Breast; Prophylactic; Risk-reducing mastectomy; Sensibility; Sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast / physiopathology*
  • Breast / surgery*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia / etiology
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects*
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nociception
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thermosensing
  • Time Factors
  • Touch