What is nipple reconstruction?
Nipple reconstruction is the final stage of breast reconstruction following mastectomy. In general, it should be performed after a period of at least 3 months following breast reconstruction. This is recommended so as the breast has taken its final shape.
Then, patients can get a tattoo in the surrounding area in order to create proper nipple-areolar complex (NAC). This can take place almost 2-3 months following nipple reconstruction.
Preoperatively, no special tests are necessary unless you have blood clotting issues. It will be necessary to stop smoking preoperatively and immediately post-operatively reducing the risk of perfusion issues on the reconstructed nipple. Also, you should avoid taking aspirin and any anti-inflammatory medicine, since they increase the risk of bleeding.
The surgical procedure:
The surgical procedure of nipple reconstruction is performed under local anaesthesia at doctor’s office. A small flap is elevated in such a way that a new nipple is formed. The operating time is almost 30-45 minutes. At a later stage (2-3 months following nipple reconstruction), patients can get a tattoo around the nipple forming the NAC.
At the end of the operation patients can go home with a small nipple shield for almost 2 weeks in order not to apply pressure to the nipple. External sutures are removed in 10-14 days.
Risks and safety information:
Complications are relatively rare. The biggest concern is flap necrosis, a complication that mainly occurs to smokers.