When you undergo a breast reconstruction, you are usually left without nipples, particularly if you’ve had implants inserted. However, nipple reconstruction surgery can be carried out in a separate procedure if required. Some women are happy enough with the results of their breast reconstruction without nipples, but for others it makes them feel less feminine. It’s an entirely personal choice and the good news is the procedure is quick and simple.
You’ll need to wait at least three months after your breast reconstruction procedure before you have your nipples reconstructed in order to give them chance to heal.
What does nipple reconstruction involve?
In order to create a new nipple, Mr Paul Tulley uses a small amount of skin from the reconstructed breast. Small incisions are made before the underlying tissue is raised into position. The tissue is then shaped to mimic a natural nipple. Once this step has been completed, the surrounding area (areola) is tattooed. This can fade over time, but it results in a very realistic areola. It’s also possible you might need more than one treatment to produce the desired results.
One of the main advantages of the procedure is that it is very rarely painful. This is because the prior breast reconstruction surgery will likely have limited the sensation in the breast. So when the areola is tattooed on, you may not necessarily feel it.
Due to how quick and straightforward the procedure is, it usually only requires a local anaesthetic. You won’t have to stay overnight in hospital and the recovery time is pretty fast. You’ll be given a nipple shield that you’ll need to wear for approximately three days after the procedure. During this time, you’ll also need to avoid showering.
At first you might notice the nipple is larger than the other. It will start to flatten out after around two weeks. Many patients also undergo a breast lift at the same time to ensure maximum symmetry.
Breast Reconstruction: Introduction
Breast Reconstruction: Implant or Expander
Breast Reconstruction: Latissimus Dorsi Flap
Breast Reconstruction: TRAM / DIEP free-flap