The word “reconstruction” sometimes conjures images of buildings with bare beams, concrete, and steel scaffolds. In contrast, at Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we sometimes like to think of breast reconstruction following mastectomy as breast “restoration.”
Some people are unaware of the art of reconstructing or restoring a breast after cancer has claimed it.
They are even unaware that, when a breast is treated with mastectomy, often the nipple and the areola are removed, leaving a blank, possibly misshapen bit of tissue and scars. And the scars are often much more than skin deep.
The Cosmetic Surgeon: Sculpting Beauty Beneath the Skin
Psychologists have done studies evaluating the feelings of patients who have had nipples removed, compared to patients whose nipples have been spared. Results of such research have reveal, “There is a dramatic difference shown that women are psychologically better off, in terms of self-esteem and sense of self, than those who have had the nipple removed.”
Sometimes women have the option of a “nipple-sparing mastectomy.”
In either case, a patient can decide if she want to have the nipple and the pigmented area around it, beautifully named the areola, reconstructed, restored and refined.
Definition: Nipple Sparing Mastectomy (NSM)
The surgery is an “advancement for women undergoing removal of the breast due to breast cancer, or as a preventative measure known as risk reduction surgery,” or preventative mastectomy. In the NSM, using small incisions, the surgeon removes all of the glandular tissue of the breast. The skin is left intact, and the nipple which might be repositioned is also saved and intact.
Ideally, within the same surgery, the cosmetic surgeon then reconstructs the breast with implant or with the patient’s own tissue.
Beyond Sparing: Restoring and Refining
Often such surgery is refined 3-4 months after initial surgery. Now the surgeon’s goal goes beyond mere rebuilding, and pursues the goal of matching or even improving, the natural appearance of the original.
Pursuing the Unique Original
“Ideally, nipple and areola reconstruction matches the position, size, shape, texture, color, and projection of the new nipple to the natural one (or to the other one, if both nipples are being reconstructed).”
The tissue to build up the nipple and areola area comes from either the breast itself or the patient’s abdomen.
Subtle coloring can be mimicked with an artistic and delicate process much like a tattoo.
Shading and expertise can make even the flattest tattoo appear to have dimension.
On the one hand, the beauty of this type of mastectomy and reconstruction is obvious in that a patient keeps her skin and nipple intact.
On the other hand, be aware that not every mastectomy patient can be offered the option of the NSM. The size of the breast, as well as the size and position of the cancer limits the option.
At Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we recommend any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer investigate all of her options for reconstruction, restoration and refinement before the mastectomy is performed.
Your surgeon, your cosmetic surgeon, and your oncologist are leading members of the cast who will support you through this journey.
For more information about this procedure, we suggest you research the sources at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Likewise, you will find excellent information at the Breast Cancer.Org online resource. And do not hesitate to call Orlando Cosmetic Surgery to discuss your options with Dr. Orlando Cicilioni.