Nipple Reconstruction Following Breast Reconstruction
Many women who have had breast reconstruction surgery choose to have nipple reconstruction as well. Nipple reconstruction is a surgical procedure, which involves the rearrangement of skin on the reconstructed breast in order to simulate the appearance of a nipple. There are different methods of nipple reconstruction, and the right method can be determined for you by examining the quality of your skin tissue, the placement of any scars on the breast, and whether or not you will have the areola reconstructed as well.
An old method of nipple reconstruction involved taking a piece of the nipple from the other breast, but this has since been discontinued, as the transplanted tissue can be vulnerable to cancer. The more common approach is to use a piece of skin from the reconstructed breast. That skin is then reorganized and constructed to have the same appearance as your other nipple. The areola area is then measured for size and symmetry to the other breast, and is constructed via a tattoo with a color to match the natural opposite areola.
Although the reconstructed nipple will have the appearance of a natural nipple, it will not feel the sensations that a natural nipple would. The tattoo may need to be repeated to achieve a more complete color match.
For nipple reconstruction surgery, local anesthesia and a mild sedation is used. It is an outpatient procedure, and you should be able to walk immediately after surgery. You will have to wear dressings for some time after surgery, which protect the new nipple reconstruction, and your doctor will let you know when these can be removed. Dressings are typically worn for one week. Stitches used for this procedure are usually absorbable, and do not need to be removed. Some soreness, swelling, and discoloration can occur. More serious side effects include bleeding and infection. You should listen to your doctor’s orders, and attend follow-up visits during your recovery.