Sensitivity of the Nipple-Areola Complex and Sexual Function Following Reduction Mammaplasty

Aesthet Surg J. 2015 Sep;35(7):NP193-202. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjv034.


Background: The sensitivity of the nipple-areola complex (NAC) is very relevant to female sexuality.

Objective: To evaluate NAC sensitivity and sexual function after breast reduction, and to assess whether altered NAC sensitivity is related to sexual dysfunction.

Methods: The study included 80 patients, who were allocated to a control group with eutrophic breasts (CG, n = 20), a hypertrophy group without surgery (HG, n = 20), or a mammaplasty group (MG, n = 40). The MG was assessed preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively. The HG and CG were evaluated once. NAC sensitivity was assessed for touch, temperature, vibration, and pressure in four areola quadrants and the nipple. Sexual function was assessed with the Brazilian version of the Female Sexual Function Index, which has six domains (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain) and a total score that indicates the presence or absence of sexual dysfunction.

Results: Compared to the CG, the MG had worse sensitivity to temperature and pressure in the nipple and areola medial quadrants postoperatively (P < 0.01). Compared to their preoperative assessment, the MG had reduced temperature and pressure sensitivity in the nipple and areola medial quadrants postoperatively (P < 0.05). Compared to the CG and HG, patients in the MG had higher postoperative scores of excitation (P = 0.0001), lubrication (P = 0.0004), orgasm (P < 0.0001), and satisfaction (P < 0.0001). There was an association between sexual dysfunction and low NAC sensitivity to temperature and vibration (P ≤ 0.041) in the MG's preoperative and postoperative scores, and to touch, temperature, and pressure across all three groups.

Conclusions: Breast reduction with a superomedial pedicle reduced NAC sensitivity but did not interfere with sexual function.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia / physiopathology*
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nipples / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Thermosensing / physiology
  • Touch / physiology
  • Vibration
  • Young Adult