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Nipple Sparing Mastectomies


Nipple Sparing Mastectomies (NSM) & Reconstruction


Women considering mastectomy to treat breast cancer or for risk reduction (prophylactic mastectomy) may be candidates for innovative reconstructive procedures that can significantly improve the appearance of their breasts. Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) or as it is also known, nipple-preserving mastectomy, is the most cutting-edge technique of mastectomy presently available. NSM removes the breast gland, but allows a woman to keep her nipple and areola (the areola is the pigmented area surrounding the nipple) in place. NSM is intended to improve cosmetic outcomes following mastectomy without compromising cancer care or the effectiveness of risk reduction surgery. When appropriate oncologic and aesthetic criteria are strictly applied, NSM allows women to preserve their nipples and areolas and attain the best possible cosmetic results following mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction.


While there is some debate about NSM in the medical community, an ever growing number of studies published in peer-reviewed journals including the Annals of Surgery, Annals of Surgical Oncology, The Breast Journal, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggest that NSM can be safely performed in carefully selected patients. While not all women are candidates for NSM, the procedure may be appropriate for the treatment of certain breast cancers as well as for women undergoing prophylactic mastectomy.


Nipple-sparing mastectomy, is more difficult to perform than skin-sparing mastectomy because the ductal tissue directly behind the nipple must be removed, yet sufficient blood supply to the skin and nipple must be preserved while no breast tissue is left behind. For this reason, it is important that women considering nipple-sparing mastectomy choose a breast surgeon with experience in this cutting-edge procedure in order to assure both oncologic and cosmetic success.


Like all surgical procedures, NSM has benefits and risks. A woman considering this procedure must discuss it carefully with the members of her breast management team and make a choice that best suits her needs. Though the cosmetic benefits of keeping one’s own nipple and areola are readily apparent, women who are considering NSM must be aware of the potential risks of the procedure. In situations where NSM is either not recommended or desired, a Skin-Sparing Mastectomy is almost always an excellent option that can provide excellent cosmetic results.

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