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Breast Reconstruction (cont.)

Reconstruction of the Nipple and Areola in Breast Reconstruction

Once the breast mound has been reconstructed, the nipple and areola (pigmented area around the nipple) can be recreated approximately 2-3 months after the first breast reconstructive surgery. By that time, the swelling in the reconstructed breast reduces and the new breast settles into its natural sag. This enables the surgeon to position the nipple accurately, in line with the nipple of the other breast.

It is a relatively simple outpatient procedure. However, some women may decide not to have it performed because they feel that the reconstructed breast alone is sufficient.

A nipple can be created using skin from the following areas:

  • inner thigh
  • behind the ear
  • reconstructed breast
  • labia (the skin folds of the vulva, just outside the vagina)

The skin can be tattooed to match the other nipple and areola. Reconstructed nipple and areola have very little sensation.

Women who decide not to have nipple and areola reconstruction performed can consider the option of nipple prosthesis. Nipple prosthesis can be stuck to the reconstructed breast to give an even appearance. They can be bought ready-made or made to match the other nipple.

Contra-Lateral Balancing Procedures in Breast Reconstruction

Many women require surgery on the breast opposite of their breast cancer to achieve symmetry with their reconstructed breast site. Some women may require enlargement (breast augmentation) of the contra-lateral breast while others may require a breast reduction. Older women with ptotic breasts (that "droop") may require a mastopexy, or breast lift, in order to match the breast after reconstructive surgery. It is very important to discuss breast size prior to the first reconstructive procedure such that the reconstruction site may be designed with a woman's personal preferences guiding the surgical plan.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016
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