We talk a lot about restoring sensation in your chest after mastectomy, but why does it matter? Why is feeling in your chest so important? We’ve broken it down, covering some of the significant ways loss of sensation can impact you physically and emotionally.
sensation keeps you safe
Think of how it feels when your mouth is numbed at the dentist. Or the weird sensation of bumping your foot after it’s fallen asleep and you realize you can’t feel it. Numbness in your chest may be similar. Without the ability to detect touch, you might have a somewhat disconnected sense of your chest. Cuts, rashes, sharp objects—you might not feel any of it. While not being able to feel injuries might make you seem like a superhero (hey, you’re still one to us), the scary part is your inability to perceive danger.
For instance, without sensation, your chest can’t feel changes in temperature, increasing your risk for accidental burns. While many of these injuries are due to sun exposure, burns have also happened from simply using a hot water bottle or leaning against a sun-exposed metal bar.
Loss of sensation can be devastating in countless unexpected ways, especially since touch is such an important part of our lives. For instance, some women mention the sadness of realizing they can’t feel their partner or children’s hugs and kisses or a head on their chest.1
Losing sensation can also make it difficult to move past your mastectomy and start to feel whole again. After Tara Dalton lost sensation after a double mastectomy at age 28, she said, “Initially it wasn’t a big deal, and then it became a sore spot because I just wanted to feel normal and put the mastectomy in the rearview and try to live my life … like I did before. When that didn’t happen… I just didn’t feel like I was in my own body. I wasn’t 100% comfortable in my own skin.”
It can also be hard to feel like yourself again when you may not actually feel anything. “You feel nothing,” said Jessica, a Resensation® patient. “The skin is just that—just skin. You feel absent. You feel not there.”
For many of us, breasts play a larger role in sexual intimacy. When interviewed, one group of women experiencing loss of sensation said they felt its impacts on intimacy. Of course, how you feel about your breasts being touched after a mastectomy is very personal and can depend on a variety of factors. But it’s important to consider how no longer being able to experience the touch of a partner may cause self-consciousness and impact your own sexual satisfaction.1
awkward moments ahead
Whether you can’t feel that your breast has fallen out of your swimsuit, that your shirt is revealing a little too much or that your breasts aren’t in the “right place”—numbness can just be plain embarrassing. Sure, it might seem like a little thing, but it still matters. And it shows how a seemingly insignificant change—not being able to feel air on your exposed skin—affects your everyday in unexpected and uncomfortable ways.
Loss of sensation affects everyone differently, but one thing is clear, it will likely impact you in ways you never imagined. The good news is Resensation® may be able to help. Learn more about the procedure here.
1 Crohan S & Campbell A. Breast Sensations Research Report, Inspired Health, October, 2020.
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