Nipple-Areola Reconstruction: Satisfaction and Clinical Determinants

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After performing a chart review, the authors identified 120 patients who underwent breast cancer-related reconstruction. All charts were evaluated with regard to breast mound reconstruction type, nipple-areola reconstruction type, the interval between breast mound and nipple-areola reconstruction, the number of procedures needed to achieve nipple-areola reconstruction, patient history of radiation therapy, and complications. A questionnaire was then developed and mailed to all of the patients who underwent both breast mound and nipple/areola reconstruction (n = 105) to evaluate their level of satisfaction. Of the 43 patients who returned the questionnaire, 41 completed all portions correctly. The questionnaire evaluated patient satisfaction with breast mound reconstruction; patient satisfaction with nipple-areola reconstruction; what the patient disliked most about the nippleareola reconstruction; and whether or not the patient would choose to have breast reconstruction again. Several parameters were then tested statistically against the reported patient satisfaction.

A review of all patients who underwent breast reconstruction revealed that their breast mound reconstructions were done using either a TRAM flap (59 percent), a latissimus dorsi flap and an implant (19 percent), an expander followed by an implant (9 percent), an implant only (4 percent), or other means (9 percent). The nippleareola was reconstructed in these patients with either a star flap (36 percent), nipple sharing (10 percent), a keyhole flap (9 percent), a skate flap (9 percent), an S-flap (8 percent), a full-thickness skin graft (6 percent), or by another means (22 percent). The number of procedures needed to achieve nipple-areola reconstruction was either one (in 66 percent of the patients), two (in 32 percent of the patients), or three or more (2 percent of the patients). Eleven percent of the patients experienced the complication of nipple necrosis.

Satisfaction with breast mound reconstruction was reported by 81 percent of patients to be excellent/good, by 14 percent of patients to be fair, and by 5 percent of patients to be poor. Reported satisfaction with nippleareola reconstruction was excellent/good for 64 percent of patients, fair for 22 percent of patients, and poor for 14 percent of patients. The factors patients disliked most about their nipple-areola reconstruction were, in descending order, lack of projection, color match, shape, size, texture, and position. Statistical analysis of the data revealed inferior patient satisfaction when there was a longer interval between breast mound and nipple areola reconstruction (p = 0.003). No significant difference was observed in nipple/areola reconstruction satisfaction ratings when compared with breast mound reconstruction type (p = 0.46), nipple-areola reconstruction type (p = 0.98), and history of radiation therapy (p = 0.23). There was also no significant difference when breast mound reconstruction was compared with technique (p = 0.51) and history of radiation therapy (p = 0.079). Overall, there was a greater satisfaction with breast mound reconstruction than with nipple-areola reconstruction (p = 0.0001). (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 110: 457, 2002.)

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