- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Breast prostheses and reconstruction
- Breast reconstruction
- Re-creating the nipple
Re-creating the nipple
Some women decide they only want the shape of the breast reconstructed, others choose to have a nipple reconstruction to make their breast look complete. The appearance of the nipple and the areola (the brown or pink rim of tissue around the nipple) can be created in several ways.
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These stick to the skin and stay in place for several days. They are available from breast prostheses suppliers.
A small operation can reconstruct a nipple and the areola. This operation is generally done a number of months after a reconstruction to give your body time to heal from the original operation and because the reconstructed breast may sag slightly after surgery.
Nipple reconstruction is done using tissue from your remaining nipple, if you have one, or with tissue from the new implant or flap. The new nipple won’t have nerves, so it will not feel any sensation or become erect to touch.
Woman with a reconstructed breast and nipple (no tattoo)
After the reconstruction you will have a new nipple.
If you have a natural breast remaining, the new nipple can be tattooed to match the colour of the other nipple. Most reconstructive surgeons can do the tattooing or you can have it done by a trained nurse, a professional medical tattooist or a specially trained cosmetic therapist.
Initially, the tattoo will look darker than the remaining nipple, but it will fade with time to match in colour.
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Dragana Ceprnja, Senior Physiotherapist and Health Professional Educator, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Jan Davies, Consumer; Rosemerry Hodgkin, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Director, Colleen’s Lingerie and Swimwear, ACT; Ashleigh Mondolo, Clinical Nurse Consultant Breast Care Nurse, Mater Private Hospital South Brisbane, QLD; Dr Jane O’Brien, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Cancer Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, VIC; Moira Waters, Breast Care Nurse, Breast Cancer Care WA; Sharon Woolridge, Consumer; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
The photograph above has been reproduced with permission from Breast Cancer: Taking Control © Boycare Publishing 2010.
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