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Numbness is a loss of feeling in a region of your body. Your body doesn’t react to touch, heat, or cold, and you don’t feel pain.

Numbness commonly indicates a problem with nerve function. It’s often caused by nerve injury, pressure on a nerve, or a chemical imbalance in the body interfering with nerve function.

There are several explanations for why you might experience numbness in one or both of your breasts.

In some cases, surgery on a breast — mastectomy or lumpectomy — can cause damage to nerves, resulting in numbness, tingling, or pain.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), between 20 and 30 percent of people develop post-mastectomy pain syndrome. It can manifest as numbness, pain, or itchiness.

Has the area of numbness been injured in the past? That physical trauma could have affected your nerves, leading to the numbness you’re feeling now.

Numbness of a breast might be a sign of a ruptured silicone breast implant. Other signs of a ruptured breast implant include:

A mastopexy to surgically lift and change the shape of your breasts can result in a loss of sensation. This typically returns within several weeks. However, some loss of feeling could be permanent.

The numb sensation in your breast might be the result of the compression of small nerve fibers in the chest wall or breast tissue. This type of nerve compression can also cause a tingling sensation.

One possible culprit is wearing a bra that doesn’t fit properly.

Numbness in a very specific area of your breast could be a reaction to a bite from an insect, a mite, a spider, or a tick.

Numbness that isn’t limited to the breast has many possible causes, including:

A number of medical conditions can also cause numbness that isn’t necessarily isolated to the breast, including:

If you notice an area of numbness, keep an eye on it. If there isn’t an obvious explanation — such as a bug bite — and it doesn’t resolve itself in a couple of days, see a doctor.

Contact a doctor immediately if you experience other changes to your breasts, such as:

If you discover a numb area on your breast, you might have an easy explanation, such as recent surgery in the area or the sign of an insect bite.

On the other hand, you might not be able to easily pinpoint the cause, which might be as simple as compression caused by an ill-fitting bra.

Either way, if numbness persists, see a doctor to get an explanation for the loss of feeling. Together you can come up with a treatment plan designed to return all, or at least some, sensation to the area.