Nipple reconstruction is one of the final steps in breast reconstruction after mastectomy. While it may be the last step, it is no less important.
By reconstructing the nipple, the breast will look more natural. Many patients describe it as the “finishing touch” to their breast reconstruction.
There are several available techniques in nipple reconstruction, including:
Depending on how your breast reconstruction is performed, Dr. Hunsicker will recommend a technique (or combination of techniques) that will achieve satisfactory results in your nipple reconstruction.
Nipple reconstruction is typically postponed until the reconstructed breast has healed and settled, although sometimes the nipple reconstruction can also be performed in the same surgery as Dr. Hunsicker’s direct-to-implant procedure. Nipple reconstruction can be very important for patient satisfaction, so it should not be delayed for too long. Usually it is performed six months or so after primary breast reconstruction has been completed.
Both the nipple and areola help define the natural appearance of the breast. Research has shown higher patient satisfaction when the nipple is reconstructed after mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
A successful nipple reconstruction procedure creates a new nipple, with natural-looking projection, size and shape. One of the most popular techniques is the local flap, in which tissue is transferred from an adjacent area to the nipple and areola. In many cases, when a local flap is used, the surgical nipple reconstruction is followed by nipple areolar tattooing to add pigment to the reconstructed area.
Two-dimensional reconstruction of the areola is simpler than nipple reconstruction. Skin grafts or intradermal tattooing are typically used. If grafts are used, they are taken from a pigmented area of the body and then transplanted to the areola. Tattooing, a more popular method, involves one or more sessions in which ink (in natural colors) is implanted beneath the skin.
Dr. Hunsicker will aim to create a natural-looking nipple and areola. While dimensions of the nipple-areola complex vary, patients with average breast size usually have an areola that measures 4 – 5 centimeters in diameter. The nipple will have dimensions that are proportional to the areola.
For more information about nipple reconstruction, we encourage you to call us for a personal consultation with Dr. Hunsicker. Call 720-283-2500 or email us to inquire about a consultation.