The Psychological Contribution of Nipple Addition in Breast Reconstruction

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Abstract

Two groups of consecutive patients from two different plastic surgical practice populations were evaluated to determine psychosocial differences between those who underwent nipple-areola reconstruction in addition to breast reconstruction (N = 33) versus those who did not undergo nipple-areola reconstruction in addition to breast reconstruction (N = 26). Psychological assessment consisted of a standardized symptom inventory (Brief Symptom Inventory) and a specially designed self-report questionnaire investigating reactions unique to surgeries for breast cancer and breast reconstruction. Both groups were equivalent sociodemographically, with the exception of age, where the nipple-added group was significantly younger (P = 0.035) than the nipple-not-added group. The nipple-added group reported significantly greater satisfaction with breast reconstruction with regard to overall satisfaction (P = 0.004), satisfaction with size (P = 0.02), satisfaction with softness (P = 0.0004), sexual sensitivity (P = 0.006), and satisfaction with nude appearance (P = 0.02). Of the nine scales of clinical symptomatology on the Brief Symptom Inventory, the nipple-added group showed more increased symptoms on seven of the nine. The nipple-added group was significantly higher on two of these scales, namely, paranoid ideation (P = 0.009) and anxiety (P = 0.03).

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