Feel confident knowing your new breast looks truly natural
Along with a new breast mound, our surgeons at Breast Reconstruction Specialists can reconstruct a new, natural-looking nipple and areola complex, either during or after their breast reconstruction surgery. While completely optional, nipple reconstruction adds significantly to a natural breast appearance, and women who choose to undergo this often minimally invasive procedure are typically very happy that they did.
How is nipple reconstruction performed?
There are many different techniques surgeons use for nipple reconstruction, and your surgeon will choose his approach based on your needs, goals and anatomy. Each technique is effective, and none is perfect. The nipple that your surgeon will create for you will look like your natural nipple, but it will not react to temperature or touch by flattening or becoming larger, and does not have feeling. Regardless of these concerns, nipple reconstruction yields the finishing touches on a reconstructed breast, and dramatically improves the overall appearance.
- Nipple reconstruction using breast skin. The most common technique is to use the skin of your reconstructed breast. Using a special incision pattern, your surgeon will gather and elevate a small portion of skin to create a well-proportioned nipple. The reconstructed nipple will decrease in size over time by as much as half, so it is initially made larger than desired. Additionally, minor adjustments to the nipple to improve its shape or position are sometimes necessary.
- Nipple sharing. This option takes a portion of the natural nipple from your non-operated breast (if it is large enough), and graft it to your reconstructed breast
- Nipple tattooing. Some patients choose to have the appearance of a nipple, or another shape, tattooed onto the breast rather than using tissue to create a nipple.
Each of these procedures usually can be performed using local anesthesia, and cause little or no pain.
What are my options for areola reconstruction?
A new areola is typically made with a specialized tattoo. There are a variety of flesh-tone colors available to choose from to create a natural-appearing for your skin tone. Areolar tattooing is usually painless and is performed by a specially trained reconstructive tattoo artist during an office visit. Most tattoos will fade over time and may need to be reapplied after a few months or years to maintain the desired effect.
Another option is to create an areola using a skin graft from another part of the body, usually the inner thigh or waist. Skin from these areas has a natural tendency to heal darker when it is grafted. This procedure requires you to go to the operating room.
Whether or not you undergo nipple and areola reconstruction is entirely up to you, and the good news is that you can have these procedures done at any time after breast reconstruction. If you would like to learn more about your options, we will be happy to help during a personal consultation with one of our board certified plastic surgeons at any of our Breast Reconstruction Specialists locations.