Nipple Reconstruction Surgery Frequently Asked Questions–
Dr. Ali is a prominent board certified plastic surgeon in the greater Birmingham, MI area, with decades of experience and thousands of satisfied patients. With over 20 years in practice and extensive training, Dr. Ali is a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, and has been rated Top Doc by Hour Detroit Magazine multiple years in a row. In this article, Dr. Ali discusses nipple reconstruction surgery, and answers some frequently asked questions about the nipple reconstruction procedure.
How is Nipple Reconstruction Surgery Performed?
Most often, the nipple is constructed from a flap of skin on the top of the breast, such as what is called the C-V and skate flaps. These procedures can be performed as an outpatient. The scar-based modified C-V flap can be performed for nipple reconstruction and scar revision at the same time.
Reconstruction of the areola is performed using a full-thickness circular skin graft from a different location on the patient’s body, for instance, the bra roll, a C-section scar, or even sometimes the inner thigh. Using a skin graft allows the areola to maintain a distinct topography from the rest of the breast, and it also enables the physician to hide some of the scars left by the mastectomy.
Does Nipple Reconstruction Surgery Require Hospitalization?
Nipple reconstruction surgery is almost always performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that a hospital stay is not necessary.
What Type of Anesthesia is Used for Nipple Reconstruction Surgery?
Generally, nipple reconstruction surgery is performed using a local anesthetic. Dr. Ali will inject a medication that numbs the area where the reconstructed nipple will be located. Under a local anesthetic, you will be awake during the procedure, although you will likely be given a medication to allow you to relax.
In the event Dr. Ali feels that a general anesthesia would be preferable, you will be given an IV (intravenous infusion), which would be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm and taped securely in place. Along with the anesthesia, a medication to relax you is inserted through the IV line. With this type of anesthesia, you will be asleep during the procedure.
Can I have Nipple Reconstruction Surgery During Chemotherapy?
Usually, nipple reconstruction surgery is the final stage of breast reconstruction. Chemotherapy is usually completed before breast reconstruction is commenced. Most doctors want the patient to be fully recovered from their mastectomy and effects of chemotherapy before beginning the reconstruction process.
Are There Non-Surgical Alternatives to Nipple Reconstruction?
Nipple tattoos are becoming an increasingly popular option for women who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery after cancer. Techniques have improved to the point where it is difficult to tell the difference. Dr. Ali can refer you to a specialized nipple tattoo expert who can create extremely natural-looking 3D tattoos using medical tattooing.
How Long is Recovery from Nipple Reconstruction Surgery?
Recovery time depends upon the technique selected. If you decide upon a tattoo, you can return to work the very next day.
The surgical flap technique is a little bit more involved, and the length of recovery depends upon the location of where the skin graft is taken. Generally, the area around the newly-constructed nipple and areola are for the most part insensate, so most patients report minimal discomfort.
When the flap technique is used, patients normally take a few days for the initial healing and then can return to work. However, you should wait from two to four weeks before intense exercise is resumed, in order for the surgical scars to heal properly. In the meantime, gentle exercise such as walking is encouraged, and you can begin to walk as soon as the evening of the procedure if you feel up to it.
Is Nipple Reconstruction Surgery Permanent?
While nipple reconstruction surgery is considered to be permanent, the newly created nipples may flatten a bit after a length of time, and tattoos can fade somewhat. Additional procedures down the road to maintain the projection or color are not unusual, and are happily performed by our Birmingham surgical team – to keep your breast and nipples looking beautiful and natural.
Will My Insurance Cover Nipple Reconstruction Surgery?
If you are having reconstruction done post-mastectomy, both surgical and non-surgical options for nipple and/or areola reconstruction are generally covered by insurance companies.
While this article answers many questions you may have, if you are considering surgery to reconstruct your nipples, no doubt you have more. It is important that you select a surgeon in whom you have confidence, who will take the time needed to explain all of your options and put you at ease, and with whom you feel completely comfortable. If you live in or near the greater Birmingham, MI area and are considering nipple reconstruction surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Ali to discuss your unique situation and the best options available to you.
Typically nipple tattoo experts do not take insurance, but do provide information to the patient so that they can submit to their insurance for reimbursement.
Nipple Reconstruction Surgery – Birmingham, MI
Dr. Ali is a board certified Macomb County area plastic surgeon who has helped countless women get the breast appearance they love after breast reconstruction with nipple reconstruction surgery. He will offer you a consultation to answer your questions and offer you understanding advice about your nipple reconstruction options.
If you are a warrior who has undergone a mastectomy after battling breast cancer, we are here to help you improve your nipples’ appearance. Live your best life, feeling attractive and confident in your appearance, with beautiful nipples.