Nipple reconstruction has become recognized as a vital part of the breast reconstruction process following cases of breast cancer and mastectomy. The goal of reconstructing the nipple is both the enhancement of physical appearance, as well as functionality and sensation when possible. Lake Country Plastic & Hand Surgery works to help women restore their sense of confidence and wholeness following a mastectomy with comprehensive reconstructive care, including nipple reconstruction.
Nipple Reconstruction: Helping Breast Cancer Survivors Regain Confidence and Normalcy
Facing breast cancer can be a life-altering experience, especially for those who receive a mastectomy to help them battle the disease. Surviving this experience is something to be celebrated and is a significant victory in and of itself. However, for women who undergo a mastectomy as part of the process, it can be accompanied by a sense of loss. Even when breast reconstruction can be achieved, for many years, it was common for the newly created structures to lack a nipple. Restoration of the nipple can be an essential part of the emotional healing process, significantly when function and sensation can be restored. While function and sensation can’t always be restored, modern innovations in surgical and reconstructive medicine have made it more likely than ever.
Nipple Reconstruction and Sensation Restoration: Step-by-Step Overview
Nipple reconstruction is generally performed as the last stage in the entire breast reconstruction procedure. This allows for the initial reconstruction to heal properly and for the implant or flap to settle into place. Following the completion of the healing process, the next step is to craft a new nipple out of the patient’s own skin. This process is equal parts art and science and involves using small incisions to help shape the skin and form a new nipple.
The following steps may be involved in the complete restoration of the nipple:
- Tattooing – Medical tattoos are used to help provide a natural appearance to the nipple by adding color and shading in a way that creates a natural-looking areola. This adds a depth of naturalness to the nipple that cannot be achieved with surgery alone.
- Restoration of Sensation – Modern techniques attempt to restore sensation to the nipple by reconnecting the nerves associated with its function and feeling. When a flap reconstruction is done, the chest nerves are connected to those in the flap to provide sensation. Regenerative peripheral nerve interfaces are used in cases where an implant has been placed.
Not every nipple reconstruction procedure is going to be able to provide full sensation and function back to the nipple. However, with advancing techniques, the success rates are increasing with every passing year.
Reclaim Your Confidence With Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
If you’ve recently undergone a mastectomy and are wondering if it would be possible to restore the appearance and function of your nipple, contact us today. We’ll provide a full consultation, including an examination, to determine what options are available to you and what results you can expect. It starts by calling our office at (262) 523-1200 or by visiting our office in Waukesha, WI today!