Mammary Ducts in the Areola: Implications for Patients Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery of the Breast

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The use of selective excision of the nipple with preservation of the areola (“nipple coring”) has been advocated for patients undergoing subcutaneous or total glandular mastectomy. This is based on the assumption that all the mammary ducts in the nipple-areola complex are located in the nipple and that the areola is devoid of mammary ductal tissue. To investigate this issue, we performed nipple coring on eight consecutive mastectomy specimens, excised the areolas, and submitted them in their entirety for histologic examination. Mammary ducts identical in appearance to extralobular ducts in the breast parenchyma were identified in the dermis of the areola in all eight cases. These ducts were present throughout the areola, including the most peripheral aspects. We conclude that mammary ducts are a normal component of the areolar dermis and that nipple coring does not result in the removal of all mammary ductal tissue from the nipple-areola complex. This observation should be taken into consideration by reconstructive surgeons considering preservation of the areola in patients undergoing subcutaneous or total glandular mastectomy. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 92: 1290, 1993.)

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