A New Local Flap Nipple Reconstruction Technique Using Dermal Bridge and Preoperatively Designed Tattoo

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Abstract

Background:

Nipple–areolar reconstruction is the final step in breast reconstruction. Reconstruction using local flaps and tattooing is useful in cases of bilateral reconstruction, a small nipple–areolar complex (NAC) as the donor site, and avoiding disturbance of the normal side and other body parts. However, this method can cause projection loss and color fading of the nipple. Moreover, the breast mound is reconstructed with an implant.

Methods:

We performed nipple–areolar reconstruction of 90 nipples using clover-designed flaps oriented at 120 degrees and tattooing after breast silicone implantation in 64 women. The tattoo was designed before flap operation and stained darker. Following donor site closure, a dermal flap was made as a bridge for nipple support. The nipple space was separated by the dermal flap from the breast mound and was filled with subcutaneous tissue. The size of the reconstructed nipple projection was measured postoperatively and 1 year later. The projection maintenance rate was calculated.

Results:

The heights of the nipple projection were 11.3 ± 1.8 mm (95% confidence interval [CI]: 10.9–11.7) just after the operation and 6.09 ± 2.4 mm (95% CI: 5.6–6.6) 1 year later. The actual range of nipple projection between these 2 heights was 5.2 ± 2.4 mm (95% CI: 4.7–5.7). The maintenance rate of the reconstructed nipple projection after 12 months was 54.1 ± 20.9 (95% CI: 49.7–58.5). The nipple color was maintained for over a year.

Conclusions:

Our nipple–areolar reconstruction technique could maintain the projection and color of the reconstructed nipple for a long period. Good outcomes were obtained in this implant-based breast reconstruction.

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