JOURNAL ARTICLE
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A prospective quantitative comparison of breast sensation after superior and inferior pedicle mammaplasty.

Reduction mammaplasty techniques using the inferior pedicle have been recommended to preserve the nipple and areolar sensation after surgery. The vertical scar mammaplasty with a superior pedicle has often been criticised because of the potential for damage to the sensory supply of the nipple-areola complex. The aim of this study was to assess the breast sensation in two prospective series of patients operated upon using superior pedicle and inferior pedicle mammaplasties. Between November 1996 and February 1997, 20 consecutive patients (39 breasts) underwent breast reduction using the inferior pedicle technique with inverted T scar (Robbin's technique). This series of patients was matched with another series of 18 patients (36 breasts) who had breast reduction using a vertical scar mammaplasty with superior pedicle (Lejour's technique) in another centre. Cutaneous pressure thresholds were recorded using Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments. The values were obtained on the quadrants of the skin of the breast, the areola and the nipple. The sensitivity test was performed preoperatively, then at 3 and 6 months postoperatively. Patients' characteristics (age, weight, breast ptosis, breast mass resected and risk factors) were statistically similar between the two groups. The preoperative values of pressure sensation on the different areas tested were statistically similar between the two groups. The sensitivity decreased on almost all the tested areas of the breast at 3 months postoperatively. No patient had an insensitive area on the breast at 6 months after surgery. Some areas of the breast showed a significant difference in pressure sensitivity after one technique compared to the other: better sensation on the skin of the superior and lateral quadrants after the superior pedicle technique at 3 months (P< 0.001), poorer areolar sensation on the inferior quadrant after the superior pedicle technique at 3 and 6 months (P< 0.05) and on the superior quadrant after the inferior pedicle technique at 3 months only (P< 0.05). However, the mean value of the areolar quadrants was statistically similar after both techniques. The nipple sensation was significantly decreased in both groups at 3 months but remained comparable between the two groups. Breast innervation was damaged by breast reduction using both the inferior and the superior pedicle techniques. The breast skin had better sensation after the superior pedicle technique while the areola had slightly better sensation after the inferior pedicle technique. At 6 months, the mean value of nipple-areola complex pressure sensation was comparable in the two series of patients.

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