Nerve injuries in aesthetic breast surgery: Systematic review and treatment options

Ivica Ducic, Hesham M. Zakaria, John M. Felder, Sarah Fantus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The risk of nerve injuries in aesthetic breast surgery has not been well explored. Objectives: The authors conducted a systematic review to provide evidence-based information on the incidence and treatment of nerve injuries resulting from aesthetic breast surgery. Methods: A broad literature search of Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was undertaken to identify studies in which nerve injury occurred after breast augmentation or mastopexy. Specific inclusion and exclusion criteria were established before the search was performed. Results: The initial 4806 citations were narrowed by topic, title, and abstract to 53 articles. After full-text review, 36 studies were included. The risk of any nerve injury after breast augmentation ranged from 13.57% to 15.44%. Specific nerve injury rates were calculated for the intercostal cutaneous nerves, branches to the nipple-areola complex, intercostobrachial nerve, long thoracic nerve, and brachial plexus. Also calculated were the total estimated risks of chronic pain, hyperesthesia, hypoesthesia, and numbness. The meta-analysis showed no associations between the rates of breast nerve injury or sensation change and implant size, incision type, or implant position in patients who underwent breast augmentation. The data were insufficient to determine rates of nerve injury in mastopexy. Conclusions: The possibility of nerve injury, sensation change, or chronic pain with breast augmentation is real, and estimating the incidences of these conditions is useful to both patients and surgeons. Optimizing patient outcomes requires timely treatment by a multidisciplinary team and may include peripheral nerve surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-856
Number of pages16
JournalAesthetic surgery journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • aesthetic surgery
  • breast augmentation
  • breast surgery
  • chronic pain
  • mastopexy
  • nerve injury
  • surgical complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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