Nipple Reconstruction After Mastectomy & Breast Reconstruction–
After a mastectomy, most women choose to have nipple reconstruction surgery to completely finish reconstruction of their breast.
No matter how skilled the plastic surgeon, surgically created nipples will never react like or have the same sensation as do natural nipples. However, the appearance of recreated nipples look very much like natural ones, and that can give women who have undergone breast cancer reconstruction procedures a sense of “completeness.”
Dr. Azhar Ali is a prominent board certified plastic surgeon in the Macomb County, Michigan area, with decades of experience and a host of satisfied patients. Dr. Ali has extensive experience reconstructing breasts and nipples for women who have had mastectomies, and employs the latest cutting-edge techniques to achieve the most natural appearance possible. In this article, Dr. Ali discusses the basic elements of nipple reconstruction.
Nipple Reconstruction Surgery Techniques
Breast reconstruction is usually performed in multiple stages. Nipple reconstruction involves recreating a nipple, and usually the areola (the pigmented tissue surrounding the nipple) at the apex of the breast mound. There are both surgical and non-surgical options for the nipple reconstruction, depending on the patient’s goals.
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.
Reattachment during Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
Many women ask whether their own nipples can be reattached to their reconstructed breasts. In some cases, the answer is yes. In others, it is not possible. The decision must be made prior to the mastectomy, since once it is removed, the nipple cannot be reattached months later. That being said, there are a number of techniques available that allow for the nipple to be reattached at the time of the mastectomy.
The Best Time for Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
Nipple and areola reconstructions most commonly occur as the final phase of breast reconstruction, usually about 3-4 months post-surgery, allowing the new breast time to heal. Surgery to reconstruct the nipple and areola is a separate surgery, and can be done as an outpatient procedure.
Complete mastectomies are only one reason for breast reconstruction and subsequent nipple and areola reconstruction. These procedures may also be appropriate following a central lumpectomy, where the breast itself is preserved, but the nipple and/or areola are compromised. Similarly, nipple/areola reconstruction may occur following oncoplastic reductions (where the tumor actually involves the nipple) or even non-cancer operations where the areola and/or the nipple have been altered.
Nipple Reconstruction is Not Mandatory
As with each aspect of breast reconstruction, whether or not to restore the nipple is a personal choice. While it can be done as soon as three months after the initial breast reconstruction, there is no time limit determining when nipple or areola reconstruction procedures can be safely or effectively performed. Many women want to have the procedure done as soon as is possible, but some wait a considerable amount of time – even five to ten years – to undergo the procedure. And, some women elect to forego the reconstruction altogether.
Alternatives to Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
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.
The decision to have nipple reconstruction surgery is extremely personal. There are many options available, and it is important for you to be completely comfortable with the procedure itself, and more importantly, with the surgeon who will perform it.
Dr. Ali has the experience, artistic skill and technical expertise necessary to enhance your appearance and accomplish your goals, as he has done with a host of satisfied patients. If you live in or near the Macomb County, Michigan area and are considering nipple reconstruction surgery, give us a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ali to discuss what options may be available to you.
Best Macomb County Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
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.