Nipple Reconstruction Surgeon: Dr. Jugenburg
Reconstructing the Nipple After Breast Reconstruction
Following mastectomy for breast cancer, the breast is reconstructed using one of several available procedures. After you are satisfied with the size, shape and symmetry of your reconstruction and you’ve had an opportunity to heal, you may want to consider having nipple reconstruction surgery.
When deciding whether to have nipple reconstruction, there are some issues to consider:
- The reconstructed nipple will not look like your natural nipple
- It will not react to temperature or touch by changing size
- will not have nerve endings, so you won’t “feel” the nipple’s touch
In addition, some reconstructed nipples appear more or less “perky” than others. It depends on the type of breast reconstruction, and because of this many women opt to go without a nipple on their reconstructed breast. You can discuss these issues with Dr. Jugenburg during your consultation.
If you choose to move forward with nipple reconstruction, there are several different techniques to consider.
- Using tissue from another part of your body: Tissue to rebuild the nipple is taken from your chest wall or from your upper inner thigh.
- Nipple reconstruction from a dermal product: These are skin substitutes made of collagen, like AlloDerm, NeoForm and DermaMatrix.
- Nipple Tattoo: Some women opt to have a nipple tattooed on the reconstructed breast. There are demabrasion nipple tattoos that use a high frequency vibrating probe to push pigment into the skin. These tattoos tend to fade over time. Another is 3-D tattoos, which are permanent and do not fade.
If you have reconstruction using skin from another area of your body, skin will be taken from the newly created breast, the opposite nipple, your ear, groin, upper inner thigh or buttocks. A small incision is made in the reconstructed breast as well, so the new nipple can be attached.
The surgical technique that causes the least alteration of the shape of the breast is called a skate flap. This involves cutting some of the skin and soft tissue on the reconstructed breast and folding or twisting the skin, then rotating its position to create the nipple.
There are other techniques that include a C-V flap, Arrow flap, Bell flap, which all involve some distortion of the newly created breast mound. Because the nipple is made from a skin donor site, it is the wrong color. To compensate, the nipple is tattooed to match the color of the areola. In addition, a skin graft from a location such as the upper medial thigh or an abdominal scar is used to create the areola. An alternative is to tattoo the areola on the newly constructed breast. Because of color matching, it may require several different tattooing sessions in order to get the color to match.
Nipple reconstruction is the final stage of breast reconstruction. It provides the patient with a sense of well being and confidence. The first step in nipple reconstruction begins with a consultation with Dr. Jugenburg.