Nipple and Areola Reconstruction after Mastectomy

During mastectomy, patients may be presented with the option to do nipple-sparing or areola-sparing procedures. These techniques involve keeping the nipple and/or areola in place while the underlying breast tissue is removed. This is viable only if the patient has a small cancer that likely hasn’t affected, and shows no sign of spreading to either the areola or the nipple. Unfortunately for patients with larger tumors, cancer cells tend to hide in the nipple area—which means a larger risk of the cancer’s resurgence. Combined with the fact that afterward, the nipple only receives a limited blood supply which may encourage the possibility of deformation or withering away, and that there is no feeling on the area because most of the blood vessels have been cut, a fair amount of women who undergo mastectomy choose not to save their original nipples. Instead, they opt for the slightly better option of nipple and areola reconstruction. Nipple and areola reconstruction is done after the breast has had time to heal from the mastectomy—usually three to four months. This procedure is done by taking tissue and skin from the other parts of the body, like the ear, eyelid, groin, the upper inner thighs, buttocks, the opposite nipple, or even the newly created breast. Tattooing may also be used in combination to match the color of the newly formed nipple and areola to the original on the other breast. It may also use three-dimensional color shading techniques to produce results with both physical and visual depth. Nipple and areola reconstruction is an ambulatory, outpatient procedure with the rate of recovery depending on the skin...

Breast Reconstruction through Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap

A DIEP flap surgery is a breast reconstruction method that involves removing the skin and fat of the lower abdomen, as well as their connecting blood vessels, and transplanting them onto the area of the breast where the mastectomy was performed to form a new breast. It is a similar procedure to a TRAM flap surgery, with the notable difference being that no muscle is sacrificed to rebuild the breast. The slight, yet fundamental difference between the DIEP flap and the TRAM flap is particularly important to note because the muscle affected by the latter procedure is the abdominal rectus muscle, more commonly known as the abs. Sacrificing the abs to reconstruct the breast can drastically change a person’s lifestyle. Aside from having more post-operative pain associated with it, TRAM flap post-op patients often have significant trouble doing mundane movements like getting up out of bed or carrying heavy things. They aren’t allowed to carry anything over 25 pounds to avoid the risk of abdominal hernias. DIEP flap surgery on the other hand preserves the core strength of the patient. It has a quicker recovery period and less post-operative pain. Most people often favor this surgery because by removing the skin and fat of the belly area, it becomes tighter and flatter—similar to having a ‘tummy tuck’. The post-op results are generally more natural-looking compared to other types of surgeries. Recovery from the DIEP flap surgery can take up to four to six weeks. This involves three to four days of staying in the hospital after surgery. Strenuous activities should be avoided during the recovery period. Light activities like...