When treating breast cancer with a mastectomy, the nipple is typically removed along with the rest of the breast. Some women might be able to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy, where the nipple is left in place. This is discussed in more detail on our page about mastectomy. The nipple and areola are usually the final phase of breast reconstruction. This is a separate surgery done to make the reconstructed breast look more like the original breast. It can be done as an outpatient procedure.
At first you may be wearing a mask or have small tubes into your nose nasal cannulae to give you oxygen. You might feel dizzy and sluggish to begin with. You have a blood pressure cuff on your arm and a little clip on your finger to measure your pulse and oxygen level. Once you are more awake, your nurse will take you back to the ward. They will measure your blood pressure and check your dressings regularly.
Breast reconstruction is the surgical process of rebuilding the shape and look of a breast , most commonly in women who have had surgery to treat breast cancer. It involves using autologous tissue, prosthetic implants, or a combination of both with the goal of reconstructing a natural-looking breast. This process often also includes the rebuilding of the nipple and areola, known as nipple-areola complex NAC reconstruction, as one of the final stages. Generally, the aesthetic appearance is acceptable to the woman, but the reconstructed area is commonly completely numb afterwards, which results in loss of sexual function as well as the ability to perceive pain caused by burns and other injuries. Breast reconstruction can be performed either immediately following the mastectomy or as a separate procedure at a later date, known as immediate reconstruction and delayed reconstruction, respectively.
Breast reconstruction can help restore the look of the breast after a mastectomy. The surgery is done by a plastic surgeon. Although most breast reconstruction is done in women, men may get reconstruction if they wish. Discuss your options with your plastic surgeon, breast surgeon and oncologist and your radiation oncologist if you are having radiation therapy.