If you have undergone a mastectomy, you may decide to have your breasts reconstructed. This procedure, performed by top surgeons like Dr. William M. Jacobsen, involves the reconstruction of the breasts and nipples or just the breasts alone without the nipples. For a patient to qualify for breast nipple reconstruction, she must be healthy enough and have enough tissue that has healed after mastectomy. Otherwise, the patient can opt to wear prosthetic breasts or live without them.
In this article, we will be shading more information on the types of nipple reconstruction techniques.
Types of nipple reconstruction
The type of reconstruction depends on several factors. These factors include the size of the breast, as well as the size and location of the cancerous cells. A person can go for breast or nipple reconstruction if she had a total mastectomy. But if the size and location of the cancerous cells allowed it, she would only undergo a nipple-sparing mastectomy, which means that the patient wouldn’t need nipple reconstruction.
Skin from the breast or another part of the body will be used during nipple construction. This skin will be used by the surgeon to reconstruct the nipple on top of the original breast mound by matching the shape, size, and color of the original one.
There are different types of nipple reconstruction methods. They include:
Skin flap reconstruction
This method begins by raising small flaps of skin where the new nipple is intended to be. The surgeon will then create a nipple out of a bump that resulted from folding and sewing together of these flaps of skin. However, this method has a drawback. Many people complain that their nipples flattened or retracted over time. The good news is that this can be resolved by having a second procedure.
Skin graft reconstruction
This method uses skin grafts taken from different parts of the body, such as the buttocks, stomach, or the inner thigh for areola construction. If the surgeon sees that the patient has enough skin on the breast mound, he or she can use it to create the nipple.
Your doctor may choose this method if he or she believes that your breast mound does not have enough skin tissue to reconstruct both the areola and the nipple. Studies conducted on people who have undergone this technique reveal that the final product closely matches the texture and color of the natural nipple. Please also note that the nipples reconstructed using the skin flap technique can flatter over time, but people prefer this technique since the new nipples closely resemble the color and texture of the original ones.
You may choose to have a medical tattoo done once the new nipple has healed. This tattoo is done over the new nipple to create a pigmented areola to give the nipple a more natural appearance.
If it is only your nipple that was removed during the mastectomy, it might be a good idea to tattoo a new one on the breast mound. Improvements in tattoo techniques have made it possible for a person to get a 3D nipple tattoo, which creates the appearance of a raised nipple.