Nipple reconstruction is a procedure used to rebuild the nipple after damage done by an injury or disease. The nipple is a functional structure on the breast which is involved in breastfeeding and sexual response. However, it is also the aesthetic focal point of the breast and important to the overall appearance of the chest region.
Women who have lost or injured a nipple are often left feeling less whole or less feminine. Nipple repair or replacement is one method of overcoming the psychological and emotional issues related to this anatomical loss.
Nipple Reconstruction Procedures
Nipple repair and reconstruction techniques are custom designed to fit the needs of every individual patient. While there are many varieties of the procedure, most have several common aspects.
For women who have no nipple at all, due to mastectomy or traumatic injury, a new nipple will be created using the patient’s own bodily tissue. The older method is to obtain skin and tissue grafts from some area of the woman’s body, such as the labia or the inner thigh region. These grafts would be transplanted to the breast mound and formed into the new nipple and areola.
The modern method simply uses tissue from the breast itself, right near the area of incision for the nipple surgery. The tissue is elevated and sutured, forming a convincing faux nipple, which is actually a purposefully-created raised scar.
The areola is generally created using permanent cosmetic tattooing, which is a simple and highly effective method for creating a natural look.
Indications for Nipple Reconstruction
Women who have undergone full or partial mastectomy often have a breast reconstruction immediately or at some time after the removal of their breast. Once this new breast mound has healed sufficiently, a new nipple can be created, to give a more realistic appearance to the reconstructed tissue.
It is a good idea to wait for complete healing of the new breast, so that optimal placement of the reconstructed nipple can be achieved.
For women who have suffered an injury, which damaged or removed their nipple, the surgeon will either create a new nipple or attempt to repair the remainder of what nipple tissue is left on the breast.
Although no nipple surgery will give the realistic function, sensitivity and response of a natural structure, the aesthetic appearance will be convincing and will make a huge cosmetic difference to the overall look and feel of the breasts.
Mind and Body Benefits of Nipple Reconstruction
Many women with a missing or damaged nipple feel as if a piece of themselves is gone forever. This deep sense of loss is difficult to imagine and can bring about many harmful emotional and physical conditions such as depression, anxiety, listlessness, insomnia and malaise.
If these issues are subconsciously repressed, even worse conditions can be enacted in the body to conceal the emotional pain. The most common of these psychosomatic conditions are chronic pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal discomfort and headaches.
The loss of a nipple is a very traumatic event and should be dealt with through therapy and acknowledgment of the loss. Recovering from this tragedy is far easier if the woman can undergo reparative surgery, including reconstruction of the nipple.
To learn more about nipple repair and reconstruction techniques, talk to a qualified plastic surgeon. See how a small and simple surgery can help repair not only your lost nipple, but also fill the resulting emotional void in your mind and heart.