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Nipple Reconstruction

Nipple reconstruction is a highly specialised procedure designed for individuals who have undergone mastectomy or those who wish to correct congenital or acquired anomalies of the nipple. At St John & Elizabeth Hospital, we understand the importance of this final step in breast reconstruction for many, offering a sense of completion and aesthetic satisfaction after a long journey of breast cancer treatment or correcting aesthetic concerns.

Also known as: nipple-areola complex reconstruction

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Everything You Need to Know

For individuals who have undergone mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment or for those addressing congenital or acquired anomalies, nipple reconstruction represents the culmination of their reconstructive journey, offering not just physical restoration but also emotional healing. At St John & Elizabeth Hospital, our compassionate and expert team employs the latest techniques to recreate the nipple-areola complex, aiming for symmetry, natural appearance, and integration with the overall breast reconstruction.

Nipple reconstruction is usually considered the final phase of breast reconstruction and can be performed once the new breast mound has fully healed and settled. This allows for precise positioning and symmetry. Techniques vary from using local skin flaps and grafts to tattooing to achieve the desired colour and texture, tailored to meet each individual’s needs and preferences.

Before deciding on nipple reconstruction, our dedicated team will discuss with you all aspects of the procedure, including techniques, timing, and what to expect in terms of outcomes and recovery. This personalised approach ensures that your treatment plan aligns with your expectations and goals for reconstruction.

Before Surgery

Preparing for nipple reconstruction at St John & Elizabeth Hospital involves comprehensive planning and preparation. Our team will guide you through each step, ensuring you are fully informed and ready for the procedure. This preparation may include:

  • Pre-operative assessment: A thorough evaluation to determine your suitability for the procedure and to plan the best approach for reconstruction. This may involve imaging studies and detailed discussions about your health history and aesthetic goals.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Recommendations to stop smoking and maintain a healthy diet to promote better healing.
  • Medication review: A review of your current medications, with advice on any adjustments needed before surgery to minimise the risk of complications.
  • Preparation instructions: Detailed guidance on how to prepare in the days leading up to your procedure, including any restrictions on eating, drinking, and medication use.

We understand that the decision to undergo nipple reconstruction is significant. Our team is committed to providing the support and information you need to make an informed choice and prepare for surgery with confidence.

During Surgery

Nipple reconstruction surgery at St John & Elizabeth Hospital is meticulously planned and executed by our team of expert surgeons, dedicated to achieving the best possible aesthetic outcomes. The procedure is typically performed under local anaesthesia, often combined with sedation to ensure your comfort throughout.

The Procedure Steps

  • Anesthesia: To ensure your comfort and safety, the surgical team will administer local anesthesia, possibly with sedation, so you feel no discomfort during the procedure.
  • Reconstruction Techniques: Depending on your specific case, the surgeon may use a variety of techniques to reconstruct the nipple, including tissue flaps from the surrounding skin or grafts. The aim is to create a nipple that matches in size, shape, and colour to your natural nipple as closely as possible.
  • Areola Recreation: The areola is often recreated using skin grafts or medical tattooing to achieve a natural-looking colour and texture that complements your skin tone.

Our surgeons utilise advanced techniques and artistry to ensure the newly reconstructed nipple and areola blend seamlessly with the breast, enhancing your overall appearance and confidence.

After Surgery

Following nipple reconstruction, our dedicated aftercare team will provide you with comprehensive support and guidance to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery.

Immediate Post-Op Care

  • Observation: Initially, you’ll be closely monitored by our nursing team to manage any discomfort and ensure your well-being.
  • Home Recovery: Most patients are able to return home the same day with detailed aftercare instructions to support healing.
  • Wound Care: Instructions on how to care for the surgical site and any dressings will be provided, along with signs of complications to watch for.

Recovery Process

  • Activity Restrictions: You may be advised to limit physical activity, especially movements that might stress the surgical site, for a period following your surgery.
  • Follow-Up Appointments: These are essential to monitor your healing and the success of the reconstruction. Your surgeon will schedule these appointments as needed.

Long-Term Care

  • Sensation: It’s important to note that reconstructed nipples may not have the same sensation as natural nipples.
  • Aesthetic Touch-Ups: Some patients may require or desire minor revisions or tattoo enhancements to achieve the desired aesthetic result.

Medically reviewed by Mrs Jacqueline Lewis - FRCS(Glasg) FRCS(Plast) on 25/04/2024

How to pay for your treatment

If you’re… paying for yourself

Did you know you don’t need private medical insurance to come to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital? As a self-pay patient, you can access safe, outstanding quality health care at times to suit you.

For scans and tests, as well as to see most consultants, you’ll still need to be referred by a medical professional like your GP, but as a self-pay patient, the process is more straightforward. You won’t need authorisation from an insurance provider, and you’ll have greater choice of consultant and appointment times.

If you’re… insured

St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is approved by all major medical insurance companies. If you have a personal private health insurance policy, or your company provide it for you, you can use it to pay for your care from your initial consultation through to treatment, surgery and aftercare such as physiotherapy. Not all private health insurance plans cover the same things. It’s very important to check exactly what you are covered for with your insurance provider.

Appointment and Consultation

Booking Your Consultation

Start your nipple reconstruction journey by scheduling a consultation with our expert surgeons. Contact our reception to find a convenient time for you.

What to Expect:

  • Discussion: A chance to express your goals and concerns, and learn about the procedure.
  • Evaluation: An assessment of your health and the reconstructed breast to tailor the surgery to your needs.
  • Treatment Plan: You’ll receive a bespoke plan detailing the surgery technique, outcomes, and recovery.

Preparing for Your Consultation:

  • Bring any relevant medical records.
  • Prepare a list of questions or concerns.
  • Consider bringing visual references to communicate your expectations.

Making an Informed Decision

We aim for you to feel fully informed and supported. After the consultation, take your time to decide, knowing we’re here for any further questions.

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