The breasts are a major part of feminine life, because of both aesthetic and practical reasons. Unfortunately, there will be circumstances that will negatively impact the breasts, which will require women to then have surgery. Breast cancer, physical trauma, diseases, and congenital problems are just some of the examples why breast altering surgery is required.

In these cases, the look of the breasts can be improved afterward through breast reconstructive surgery, which has both physical and psychological benefits to the patient. But one key element to completing this process is nipple reconstruction, which is critical in restoring the look of the breasts.

What is nipple reconstruction?

Nipple reconstruction is the process which restores damaged, altered, underdeveloped, or absent nipples, to provide a more natural look to the breasts. There are many ways that this can be achieved, giving patients more options depending on their preferences.

First, the graft technique, which uses skin from a part of the body far from the breasts. Skin is harvested from either the earlobe, labia, or remaining nipple for nipple reconstruction, and inner thigh or buttock crease for areola reconstruction. The skin is then attached to the site of the nipple and areola.

The flap approach uses a flap of skin which is harvested right beside the site of the reconstructed nipple. This has the added benefit of keeping blood circulation and minimizing the scarring by confining it to the area of the nipple.

Micropigmentation, also known as tattooing, can then be employed to further enhance the reconstruction process, by providing the proper color and shading to the areola area. Surgeons will mix pigments to match the skin’s natural tone and color, which is vital in restoring the nipple’s natural look. This is usually done only after the nipple has been reconstructed, and is the final procedure in the whole process.

Why get nipple reconstruction?

People who undergo breast reconstruction, or have nipple defects, often disregard nipple reconstruction for many reasons. These usually range from the lack of funds, or the patient’s eagerness to return to normal life as quick as possible without adding more surgery. What most people don’t know is that this stage is important for both aesthetic and practical purposes.

The nipples are the focal point of the breasts, and nipples that are underdeveloped, damaged, disproportionate, or misaligned can negatively affect the look of the bosom. More importantly, the nipples are the center of sexual stimuli of the breasts, and nipples with defects can affect both the woman and her sexual partner, physically and psychologically. Nipple reconstruction can remove these problems, and restore the benefits of a healthy nipple to patients.

Risks, Complications & Recovery

Like most procedures, nipple reconstruction has various risks and possible complications.

Grafts and folds might not survive their new location, which can cause infection, further scarring, and bleeding. This will then require further surgery to fix. In addition, improper surgery can cause skin tissue death, clotting, skin discoloration, swelling, pain, and even cardiac and pulmonary complications. This is why it’s critical to regularly take any prescribed medication, follow the surgeon’s instructions during recovery, and to seek the best possible surgeon available.