Rebuilding a Nipple with Reconstruction Techniques
For women who undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction following cancer, the final step of the surgical process is often nipple reconstruction. Dr. Polavarapu performs nipple reconstruction in her Fort Worth plastic surgery practice for women who have lost one or both breasts and wish to have the nipples reconstructed, as well. Nipple reconstruction can be performed in a variety of ways, from tattooing to skin grafting.
The Best Candidates for Nipple Reconstruction
Candidates for nipple reconstruction should have already completed breast reconstruction, either with implants or with tissues from their own body. Nipple reconstruction usually takes place several weeks or even months after the patient has healed from her breast reconstruction procedure.
Patients often desire nipple reconstruction because it helps finalize the look of the new breasts and helps them to appear more natural. After nipple reconstruction and breast reconstruction, patients often feel a new sense of self, one that may have felt lost when the breasts were removed in the mastectomy.
For your nipple reconstruction in Fort Worth, you will be given a local anesthetic with sedation or a general anesthetic to increase your comfort and help you sleep through the procedure.
In one method of reconstruction, your plastic surgeon may use a graft of tissue and skin from elsewhere on your body. In some cases if just one breast is to be reconstructed, she may use tissue from the opposite nipple. She may also choose to use skin from the medial thigh-vulva area. Either option will help create a nipple that matches in color. When she has successfully grafted the skin to the new site from the harvest site, the incisions will be closed with sutures and a surgical dressing may be applied.
In some cases, your plastic surgeon may recommend nipple reconstruction using a tattooing method. By undergoing tattoo-based nipple reconstruction, you will be able to have a reconstructed nipple that matches in pigment. To undergo this option, you should have adequate skin at the site of the new nipple. After your tattooing is complete, an ointment will be applied and it will be covered with a surgical dressing.
After Your Surgery
After your skin graft nipple reconstruction procedure, it is not uncommon to experience some swelling or discomfort at the harvest and reconstruction sites. If this is the case, the application of an ice pack can control swelling. Dr. Polavarapu may also prescribe medication to manage discomfort. After a week or so, you may return to your plastic surgeon to have the sutures removed. It can take several months and up to a year for the scarring to fade. After it has subsided, you will be able to experience the newly reconstructed nipple.
If you undergo tattoo nipple reconstruction, the recovery should be shorter. The area will be tender for several days and you will need to reapply the ointment. Some scabbing may occur, but will flake off naturally.
We encourage you to learn more about your options for nipple reconstruction in Fort Worth. Please call the office of Dr. Polavarapu today.