Mastectomy surgery treats breast cancer by removing the breast tissue. This process addresses the presence of cancerous cells.
With a nipple-sparing mastectomy, a woman’s existing, natural nipple and areola are preserved. The obvious advantage is the aesthetic benefit, as no further surgery is required to reconstruct the nipple-areola complex. A common misconception is that leaving the nipple-areola complex increases the chance of cancer recurrence, but this is false.
Research reveals, in the appropriately selected patient, there is no increase in cancer recurrence in patients who have had nipple-sparing mastectomy compared to patients who have undergone a traditional mastectomy. There are some limitations to a nipple-sparing mastectomy, the first of which is that not all women are candidates. It may not be the right surgical option for large cancers or those occurring near the nipple.
Since all the ducts terminate at the nipple, the nipple is considered part of the breast and therefore is usually removed when the cancer is in close proximity. Women with very large or ptotic (sagging) breasts may not be ideal candidates. When considering this treatment, you should be aware that there may be a loss of sensation or altered appearance of the nipple areola complex.