Nipple-sparing mastectomy keeps the nipple and areola intact along with the breast skin. There are many different incisions used to do this surgery. One incision is made under the fold of the breast. Other incisions begin near the areola and extend towards the outer portion of the breast. Vertical incisions from the breast fold to the nipple are also sometimes used.
In all cases, all visible breast tissue is removed. In the past this was called a subcutaneous mastectomy. No matter what incision is used, tissue beneath the nipple and areola are checked for cancer. If cancer is detected, the nipple is removed, converting the procedure to a skin-sparing mastectomy.
With either surgery, breasts are then reconstructed with an implant or tissue taken from another area of the body.
Candidates for nipple-sparing mastectomy include:
- women whose tumor does not involve the nipple or tissue under the areola
- women whose tumors are surrounded by a clear margin of cancer-free tissue
- women who have not been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer or advanced breast cancer with skin involvement