What is a Nipple-Sparing or Skin-Sparing Mastectomy?
In the past, much of the breast skin was removed at the time of the mastectomy. However, when clinical studies demonstrated that there was no increased risk in cancer recurrence, surgeons began preserving the skin and removing just the nipple-areola with the breast tissue. Today, this advanced skin-sparing mastectomy approach is widely employed as part of breast cancer treatment due to its efficacy and superior outcome. In some cases, the procedure can be taken one step further to preserve the nipple-areola complex in addition to the breast skin. This is known as a nipple-sparing mastectomy, and it is often considered the ideal mastectomy option for qualified patients.
Benefits of a Nipple and Skin-Sparing Mastectomy
In general, the more skin that is preserved during mastectomy—particularly the central projection breast skin—the more closely the reconstruction can be to a natural-appearing breast. Since both the skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy techniques are designed to save as much skin as possible, exceptionally natural-looking breast reconstruction results can often be achieved via implant or tissue flap methods. The key, however, is to involve a board-certified plastic surgeon from the outset of breast cancer treatment. By doing so, the plastic surgeon can work together with your team of physicians to formulate and execute an individualized treatment plan that has the greatest probability of successfully removing cancerous tissues while yielding an optimal reconstructive outcome.
Combining Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction
When a board-certified plastic surgeon is involved from the start of breast cancer treatment planning, breast reconstruction surgery can often be performed at the same time as a skin- or nipple-sparing mastectomy, should this be the recommended and/or desired course of action. During this combined procedure, abnormal breast tissue will first be removed while preserving as much skin (and potentially the nipple-areola, depending on the technique) as possible.
Once tissue removal is complete, the breast envelope is filled with either an implant or tissue flap. For implant reconstruction, patients have the option of saline, traditional silicone, or anatomically shaped cohesive gel implants to restore the breast mound. For flap reconstruction, tissues are taken from the patient’s abdomen, back, and/or buttocks and transferred to the chest to recreate the breast mound. Both techniques are able to produce a very natural breast appearance when performed by a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon. In fact, many breast cancer patients opt to receive a bilateral mastectomy and can achieve a highly symmetrical reconstructive outcome.
Schedule Your Nipple or Skin-Sparing Mastectomy Consultation
For more information on the nipple or skin-sparing mastectomy technique, please contact Parva Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Behzad Parva, MD today.