Nipple reconstruction is performed as a separate surgery after the flap or implant breast reconstruction surgery is complete. The reconstruction of the nipple and areola (the pigmented area surrounding the nipple) afford our plastic and reconstructive surgeons the ability to create the most natural-looking breast reconstruction results possible.
One of our plastic and reconstructive surgeons here at the Breast Reconstruction Surgery Center, a “Center of Excellence” within the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, will cover all aspects of breast reconstruction surgery at the initial consultation, including nipple reconstruction options. Together, our plastic and reconstructive surgeons will provide the necessary support each patient needs in this next stage of recovery from mastectomy or injury, while informing their decision regarding the type of nipple reconstruction that is right for them.
Graft Nipple Reconstruction
In a graft nipple reconstruction, our plastic surgeon will take skin from a donor site and attach it to the newly constructed breast. The donor site for the nipple can come from the nipple of the other breast in cases of a single-breast mastectomy, or from the earlobe or labia if a double mastectomy is being performed. The donor site for the areola can come from a variety of areas, including the scar from a flap reconstruction procedure, the crease of the buttock, or the inner thigh.
Flap Nipple Reconstruction
Flap nipple reconstruction involves the creation of the nipple from a skin flap taken from the area directly beside the region where the new nipple will be placed. Flap nipple reconstruction can be advantageous over the graft technique in that it keeps the original blood supply flowing into the new nipple and provides a greater chance for the successful acceptance of the graft. As the flap approach does not require a donor site, it typically results in less scarring around the area of the reconstructed nipple and areola.
Nipple and areola reconstruction is typically performed about three to six months after the first stage of breast reconstruction, depending on each individual patient’s timeline for a full recovery. At the initial consultation, our doctors at the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group will discuss which of the two main approaches to nipple reconstruction will best fit each patient’s breast reconstruction treatment plan, as well as what can be expected from the recovery period.1
At the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group’s Breast Reconstruction Surgery Center, we offer nipple tattooing on an outpatient basis, which is the final step in the nipple reconstruction process.
Nipple tattooing involves the medical use of typical tattooing equipment, with the ultimate goal of creating a natural-looking nipple, which complements skin color and tone. Our team here at LIPSG will mix a variety of pigments to match the color of the remaining nipple, or in the case of a bilateral reconstruction, to the patient’s preoperative photos, as the color of the skin before the tattooing process depends on where the initial skin graft comes from. While nipple tattooing can create the appearance of a realistic nipple, patients should understand that tattooing alone will not create the same natural-looking appearance as a complete nipple reconstruction, and may require multiple treatment sessions to achieve the correct color as our surgeons and patients strive for the best possible reconstruction results. Regardless of whether our patients decide to include nipple tattooing or a complete nipple reconstruction in their breast reconstruction treatment plan, our surgeons at LIPSG will provide comprehensive educational information during the initial consultation to ensure the correct decision is made for each individual patient.2
The plastic and reconstructive surgeons at LIPSG are experts at every aspect of breast reconstruction, having performed more than 10,000 procedures including all major breast reconstruction techniques. Our surgeons are specialty-trained in a range of breast reconstruction treatments, and many of the doctors here at LIPSG have been educated at some of the most respected medical institutions and cancer reconstruction centers in the world, including Memorial Sloan Kettering. During the initial consultation with one of our surgeons, they will work with each patient to determine the best breast reconstruction procedure, and cover all aspects of the procedure to provide all the necessary information. This will include discussing nipple reconstruction, nipple tattooing, and other options available, which allows our patients to attain complete restoration of the breasts with results that look natural.
Ready for a Consultation?
Please contact our team at the Breast Reconstruction Surgery Center, a Center of Excellence within LIPSG, for more information on nipple reconstruction at our Long Island and Manhattan, New York-area practice.
1 BreastCancer.org. Nipple Reconstruction: What to Expect. Available: https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/reconstruction/types/nipple/what-to-expect. Accessed November 12, 2020.
2 BreastCancer.org. Traditional Nipple Tattoos. Available: https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/reconstruction/types/nipple/trad-nipple-tattoo. Accessed November 12, 2020.