Numerous studies have shown that the final stage in breast reconstruction, creation of the nipple-areolar complex, correlates highly with patient satisfaction and acceptance of body image. There are many different techniques, including nipple sharing, free-composite grafts, and local “pull-out” flaps, all of which are vulnerable to an unpredictable degree of loss of projection and possible need for reoperation. This leads to problems with symmetry and overbuilding the initial reconstruction with wider-based, larger flaps, which may cause breast-contour changes.
We have used calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse, Bioform Inc., Franksville, WI) following nipple-areolar reconstruction to maintain or restore projection in selected breast-reconstruction patients. Approximately 0.4–1 mL of calcium hydroxylapatite was injected subdermally using a 27-gauge needle in 6 selected patients. All patients tolerated the office procedure well without the need for local anesthesia. We report initial short-term success, with 100% patient satisfaction, minimal loss of projection, and no complications.
Semipermanent injectable soft-tissue fillers such as calcium hydroxylapatite may be useful in selected patients as a simple solution to the difficult problem of the lack of nipple projection following reconstruction.