Nipple Reconstruction

Updated 
August 31, 2015

After tissueinfo-icon or implantinfo-icon reconstruction, you can choose whether to rebuild your nippleinfo-icon and areolainfo-icon. Reconstructive surgeons can create a nipple and areola that look lifelike, although you will not have sensation.

In general, the nipple is rebuilt using a local flap, a surgical procedure in which the skin of the reconstructed breast is folded to create a nipple mount. Another option is a nipple graft, which involves taking half the nipple from the healthy, remaining breast and putting it on the reconstructed breast. The areola is reconstructed with a skin graft (from your inner thigh, abdomen or other locations), a tattoo, or both.

Non-Surgical Options

Non-surgical options are to:

  • Use removable nipples made of polyurethane, a flexible type of plastic
  • Have nipples tattooed onto the breast. The tattoo can be done to look three dimensional, even though it’s not.

The advantage of nippleinfo-icon reconstruction is that it makes the reconstructed breast look more natural. The disadvantages are that it involves more surgeryinfo-icon, can cause minor complications, and the nipple is always somewhat erect. The advantages of not having surgical nipple reconstruction are less surgery, fewer risks, and, after a bilateralinfo-icon mastectomyinfo-icon, not having to wear a bra.