Nipple reconstruction is an optional procedure after you have completed your breast reconstruction. Many different techniques can be used to reconstruct the nipple and Dr. Yau will discuss which options are suitable for you. Following nipple reconstruction, a 3-D tattoo can be used to recreate the areola colour. Some patients choose to forgo nipple reconstruction altogether and opt for only the tattoo instead.
Nipple Reconstruction Procedure
Surgery is typically 30 minutes per nipple. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic (freezing) while the patient is awake and is usually very well tolerated.
Two of Dr. Yau’s most commonly employed nipple reconstruction techniques are as follows:
Local tissue rearrangement
The nipple is reconstructed from the skin and tissue surrounding the desired position of the nipple. Small incisions are made and tissue is elevated and shaped into a mound that resembles a natural nipple.
This procedure is appropriate if you have undergone reconstruction of only one breast and the opposite nipple has enough tissue to be split either vertically or horizontally. Half of your healthy remaining nipple is taken and placed on the reconstructed breast where it will re-establish new blood supply as a graft.
Recovery after Nipple Reconstruction
The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure. Healing of the incisions usually takes 2 weeks, but patients are able to resume regular activities a few days after surgery. Strenuous exercise may begin after healing of the incisions. Patients experience little pain as the nipple is typically reconstructed on an area of the breast that has decreased feeling. Tattooing of the areola can take place 3 months after nipple reconstruction.