Nipple Reconstruction

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After breast reconstruction with breast implants or autologous tissue following mastectomy, you may consider having nipples reconstructed for your new breasts. Nipple reconstruction is a plastic surgery procedure and like any elective surgery, a deeply personal choice.

During nipple reconstruction, a plastic surgeon reconstructs one or both nipples to restore the appearance of natural-looking breasts.1 Many women choose to use pigment with nipple tattoos following nipple reconstruction to create a 3-dimensional effect and enhance results for the most natural looking outcome.

Benefits of Nipple Reconstruction

  • Can improve confidence after mastectomy2
  • Reconstruction of nipple areolar complex can boost body image
  • Areola tattooing can restore realism
  • Higher overall and cosmetic satisfaction vs. breast reconstruction alone3

The Nipple Reconstruction Procedure

At My Houston Surgeons, we use advanced nipple reconstruction techniques such as flap reconstruction during nipple reconstruction surgery. Before beginning the surgery, your surgeon will draw on your reconstructed breast(s) to create a guide of where incisions will be made.

Then, one of our board-certified plastic surgeons will make several small incisions on the breast mound at the desired placement. They’ll then use skin flaps from breast skin and breast tissue or a graft made of ear cartilage, sculpting a new nipple that mimics natural nipple projection.
Once the nipple is completely reconstructed, our surgeons place a protective shield over the sutures to protect the incisions while they heal.

Recovery After Nipple Reconstruction

Reconstruction of the nipple in general takes approximately 30 minutes, and is an outpatient procedure. Patients can return home several hours after their procedure and should plan to have a ride from our surgery center.

Immediately following surgery, it is normal for reconstructed nipple(s) to appear larger than it should due to swelling, but will diminish in size once swelling subsides. After roughly two weeks, you’ll return for your follow-up appointment and any stitches will be removed. During this appointment, you have the opportunity to review your options for nipple tattooing.

Patients typically experience mild tenderness and pain at the surgical site, but this should fade gradually within one week. Most patients do not require prescription pain medication, but we’ll do everything possible to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the duration of your recovery.

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1 American Cancer Society. Reconstructing the Nipple and Areola After Breast Surgery. Available: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/reconstruction-surgery/breast-reconstruction-options/reconstructing-the-nipple-and-areola-after-breast-surgery.html. Accessed September 9, 2021.

2 JPRAS. Nipple–areola complex reconstruction improves psychosocial and sexual well-being in women treated for breast cancer. Available: https://www.jprasurg.com/article/S1748-6815(16)30460-0/fulltext. Accessed September 9, 2021.

3 Annals of Plastic Surgery. The impact of nipple reconstruction on patient satisfaction in breast reconstruction. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22868326/. Accessed September 9, 2021.

The Doctors at My Houston Surgeons have either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Page last updated:

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