Options for Nipple Reconstruction after Mastectomy
By: Courtney Floyd
Patients today have many choices to consider when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. For patients who are not candidates for nipple-sparing mastectomy (or for those who choose not to save their nipples), nipple/areola reconstruction is an option.
Nipple reconstruction can be performed in a variety of different ways. At PRMA, we use the “bow-tie” technique. The nipple is recreated using skin on the reconstructed breast as demonstrated in this video. This procedure can be completed during the revision stage (or Stage 2 reconstruction) in the operating room, or as a separate procedure in the office.
It is important to know the reconstructed nipple will not feel or respond like a natural nipple regardless of which procedure is performed. However, patients who have sensory nerve reconstruction in conjunction with certain types of flap breast reconstruction will have a much better chance of regaining feeling in the reconstructed nipple-areola long-term.
Nipple reconstruction is designed to recreate nipple protrusion only. It does not recreate the coloring of a nipple/areola.
This is where tattooing comes in. Patients can choose to have a 2D or 3D tattoo that creates the visual result of a natural nipple. This can be performed after the reconstructed nipple has healed, or about three months after undergoing nipple reconstruction.
Another option patients may consider is opting for just the tattoo. This is a favorable option for some patients who do not wish to undergo an additional procedure or who do not want a protruding nipple. There are truly talented artists today who can create an almost lifelike result with just 3D tattooing.
We want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below why you chose or didn't choose nipple reconstruction.