Jamie's Blog

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Ethics Of Nipple Reconstruction

It is truly amazing what surgeons can do for mastectomy patients who choose reconstruction.   Gone are the days when the only treatment for breast cancer was radical mastectomy, which removed not only breast tissue, lymph nodes, and nipples, but the underlying muscles, leaving women with concave, bony, and scarred chests.  

With advancements in screening and techniques today’s women can choose among several surgical options, from breast conserving “lumpectomy,” to nipple-sparing mastectomy, to mastectomy with reconstruction of the entire breast, either with implants or autogenous tissue taken from the patient’s body.

Wait, there’s more.   For women who select the DIEP flap procedure, where the tissue is taken from the abdomen, they get a tummy tuck in the process—an extreme makeover courtesy of insurance!
Nowadays women can even choose whether or not they want replacement nipples; and many opt for nipple reconstruction and areola tattooing.  This is the choice I made.  Reconstructed nipples are notorious for losing their projection, so my surgeon saved some of my cartilage to provide a permanent point under the nipple. I thought it was a genius idea.

That was 4 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong:  I love my breasts, and l trust my surgeon:   AND I wish I didn’t have nipples that are always at attention but never any fun.  Wherever I go, whatever the climate, it is always winter but never Christmas.

Question: why bother?   Why subject ourselves to another hospital stay, another surgical procedure, another recovery time, for a temporary fix?  Why not go straight to a professional tattoo artist who can do this:

I put the question out there for my survivor sisters:  what do you think? What have you experienced? Please add to the discussion so we can improve the options for future sisters.
Permanent Areola Repigmentation And Nipple Restoration by Melany Whitney