Breast reconstruction following subcutaneous mastectomy for cancer: A critical appraisal of the nipple-areola complex

Maurice Y. Nahabedian, Theodore N. Tsangaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Subcutaneous mastectomy for women with advanced breast cancer has been historically controversial because of the increased risk for tumor recurrence. Despite this, some women remain interested in this method of treatment as a means of preserving the appearance of the breast and nipple-areola complex. Several studies have evaluated the feasibility of subcutaneous mastectomy; however, there has been no study that has critically analyzed the aesthetic outcome of the nipple-areola complex following this approach. METHODS: Over a 14-month interval, 12 women had subcutaneous mastectomy with preservation of the nipple-areola complex. The reconstruction was unilateral in 10 women and bilateral in two women, totaling 14 breasts. The mastectomy was for cancer in 11 and for prophylaxis in three breasts. Outcomes were assessed based on the sensation, appearance, and secondary procedures of the nipple-areola complex, and tumor recurrence and patient satisfaction. RESULTS: Of the five parameters, sensation was present in six breasts (42.9 percent), delayed healing was noted in four breasts (28.6 percent), symmetry with the contralateral breast was achieved in five of 10 women (50 percent) following unilateral reconstruction, tumor recurrence was noted in three of 11 breasts (27.3 percent), and secondary procedures related to the nipple-areola complex were necessary in five of the 14 breasts (35.7 percent). Outcome was graded as excellent in three, good in eight, and poor in three breasts. CONCLUSION: This study has demonstrated that aesthetic outcome of the nipple-areola complex is variable following subcutaneous mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction. However, patient satisfaction was graded as good to excellent in 11 of 14 breasts (78.6 percent). Subcutaneous mastectomy with flap reconstruction results in fewer secondary procedures and improved aesthetic outcome when compared with implant reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1090
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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