There is no questions that nipple-areolar reconstruction should be an integral part of breast reconstruction for mastectomy patients. Although it is possible to restore a breast mound with either tissue-expander/implant-based reconstruction or with autologous soft tissue flaps, a realistic appearing nipple-areola is what lends identity to a woman’s breast. Although nipple reconstruction is frequently the last stage in breast reconstruction, its completion confers a distinct psychological benefit to breast cancer patients. Once patients have had a breast removed, they are reminded daily of this unfortunate loss every time that they undress and look in the mirror. Completion of their breast reconstruction with creation of a nipple-areolar complex is an important step toward feeling “whole” again. The more realistic the breast reconstruction (including a nipple-areolar complex) appears, the more likely it these patients will experience a feeling of relief from this great loss.
If you are a breast cancer survivor in Los Angeles or around the country, it is important to realize that breast reconstruction almost always occurs in stages. Re-creating a realistic appearing breast is a true surgical challenge, and one that I take great pleasure in performing. A symmetric breast mound must first be created, and allowed ample time to heal. Once this has occurred, we can begin planning the final stage which consists of nipple-areolar reconstruction.