Why You May Want to Think about a Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

A nipple sparing mastectomy is a type of breast cancer surgery procedure that has been shown to have tremendous psychological benefits for women. During the procedure, the breast skin is retained and only the underlying tissue is removed. To perform it, an incision is made near the areola. The reason why this procedure is popular is because it enables women to retain a natural-looking breast.

What to Expect from the Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

Usually, immediately after the breast tissue is removed, a reconstruction will take place as well. Because of the fact that two procedures are completed at once, the overall operation can take as much as eight hours. Exactly how long it will take depends on the type of reconstructive surgery that the woman has chosen. Once she wakes up from the anesthetic, she will have a number of tubes inside the breast that remove fluids. A suction device is attached to this drain. The recovery time is reasonably quick, ranging from one to five nights in hospital.

One of the problems with a nipple sparing mastectomy is that it is quite a bit more painful than other types of mastectomy. Naturally, they will be prescribed pain relief medication that they can take afterwards, usually for a period of two weeks. After this, over the counter remedies should be sufficient. Furthermore, it is common for women to experience some numbness in their armpit area, which may become permanent.

The biggest benefit of this surgery is that a woman will only require one procedure, leaving her with a natural-looking breast. However, it also has some disadvantages, including:

  • Loss of sensation.
  • Requiring removal of the reconstruction if cancer returns.
  • Malpositioning.
  • Complete or partial loss of areola.
  • No projection.
  • Complications.

Issues with the Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

Thankfully, it is incredibly rare for any serious complications to happen after a nipple sparing mastectomy. However, it is of tremendous importance that women are informed of all potential issues, so that they can be empowered to make a decision in terms of the surgery that is right for them. Necrosis, occurring in 2% to 3% of low risk patients and 20% of high risk patients, is one of the risks to be aware of.

When a woman is considering this procedure, it is important that she understands all the different details involved. This includes who her surgical team is, what type of incision will be used, the size of her breast, and how much breast tissue requires removal.

Overall, however, the nipple sparing mastectomy is rapidly becoming one of the most popular surgeries in cases of breast cancer. This is because so many surgeons believe it is beneficial both for the physical and mental health of a woman to retain as much natural breast tissue as possible. However, some women feel that their breast tissue is what attacked them in the first place, it is better to remove it altogether. Additionally, after a nipple sparing mastectomy, it is common for loss of sensation to occur, which means women feel that a full reconstruction is just as easy. There are no right or wrong answers, only personal decisions.

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Ariana Ostrow
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