Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
Without nipple reconstruction surgery a reconstructed breast has the skin of a normal breast, but the nipple and areola are not present. Patients who opt to have nipple reconstruction surgery typically do so at a later date than the reconstruction surgery.
A nipple reconstruction is performed by taking tissue from another part of the body and grafting it to the breast, suturing it into place in such a way that a nipple is formed. At this point, the nipple graft is skin colored unless the graft was taken from the other nipple, and there is no areola surrounding the nipple. If an areola or a skin color matching the original nipple color is desired the color is applied permanently by tattooing the color onto the skin.
Unlike the main reconstruction surgery, nipple reconstruction can typically be done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. Some women opt not to have the nipple and areola reconstructed, it is a personal decision, and the procedure is purely cosmetic, providing balance with the other breast.
The reconstructed nipple does not have the same sensitivity as the original nipple, but does provide for a more natural appearance. After reconstruction the nipple may appear erect, projecting from the breast, making some women feel self conscious with the appearance of the nipple in day to day life. If this is a concern, it should be discussed with the plastic surgeon when planning the procedure.