Traditional mastectomies involve removing the entire breast, including the nipple and areola. The subsequent reconstruction of the breast may include the recreation of the nipple and areola with tissue harvested from elsewhere in the body and tattooing to give them realistic color. However, many patients would prefer a nipple that looks and feels more natural-more their own.
A somewhat controversial procedure called the nipple-sparing mastectomy may give some women this option. If the tumor is at a safe distance from the patient’s nipple and areola, these areas can be kept, along with a pocket of skin, while the cancerous tissue and duct structure are removed. The reconstructive plastic surgeon will fill the remaining pocket with the patient’s own tissue or an implant.
Offering an outcome considered much more natural-looking than the that of the usual approach, the nipple-sparing mastectomy is an especially appropriate option for young women who have chosen to undergo a preemptive mastectomy because of genetic history.
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