Nipple-sparing mastectomy

What is a nipple-sparing mastectomy?

Unlike conventional mastectomy, nipple-sparing mastectomy keeps the patient’s natural skin, including the nipple and areola. It allows the scar to be hidden on the underside of the breast or in another location so that there is minimal scarring while the natural appearance and feel of the breast is preserved.

Why choose UI Hospitals & Clinics?

Working together, breast cancer surgeons and plastic surgeons at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics have performed more than 100 of these procedures, making our team among the most experienced groups in the state of Iowa with nipple-sparing mastectomy and reconstruction. 

Patients say they appreciate the natural-looking results of this procedure, and some cite a psychological advantage to preserving their natural breast features instead of having those features added later through further plastic surgery.

Surgeons at UI Hospitals & Clinics remove the inner breast tissue, reconstruct the breast to its original shape, and keep the patient’s own nipple and surrounding skin. In reconstructing the breast, the plastic surgeon can either use a flap of the patient’s own tissue from a different part of the body, or a breast implant.

Who is an ideal candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy?

Some patients who are at very high risk of breast cancer may decide to complete this procedure before a tumor is ever found. For patients who already have tumors, the tumors must not be large and not involve the nipple. A specially trained cancer surgeon can best explain the treatment options that will address your particular needs.

Keep in mind, just as with conventional mastectomy, nerve tissue below the nipple is removed, meaning that the patient will have little or no sensation in the nipple area and much of the chest wall after the surgery.

Learn more about mastectomies

Types of mastectomies

Sonia Sugg, MD, explains the different types of mastectomies available, including a new procedure called nipple-sparring mastectomy. Unlike conventional mastectomy, nipple-sparing mastectomy keeps the patient's natural skin, including the nipple and areola.

Role of the plastic surgeon

Thomas Lawrence, MD, a plastic surgeon at UI Hospitals and Clinics, describes the role of the plastic surgeon during a nipple-sparing mastectomy and his goal to create the most natural looking breast as possible following a breast tumor removal or preventative mastectomy.
Last reviewed: 
May 2016

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