Alteration of nipple and areola sensitivity by reduction mammaplasty: a prospective comparison of five techniques

Ingrid Schlenz, Sandra Rigel, Michael Schemper, Rafic Kuzbari
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2005, 115 (3): 743-51; discussion 752-4
The preservation of the sensitivity of the nipple-areola complex after reduction mammaplasty is an important goal. The authors performed this prospective study to accurately assess whether sensitivity changes are influenced by the weight of resection or the surgical technique. Eighty patients who underwent bilateral breast reduction (Lassus, 10 patients; Lejour, 13 patients; McKissock, 18 patients; Wuringer, 20 patients; and Georgiade, 19 patients) were tested for sensitivity changes of the nipple and cardinal points of the areola with Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments before surgery, at 3 weeks, and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. Patient characteristics (age, body mass index, and preoperative sensitivity) were statistically similar in all groups. The mean resection weight was significantly smaller in the Lassus (540 g) and the Lejour groups (390 g) than in the Georgiade group (935 g). The sensitivity of the nipple and the inferior and lateral part of the areola was significantly lower after a superior pedicle technique (Lassus and Lejour) than after any other technique at 3 weeks and at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Insensate nipples and areolas were found only after breast reductions with the Lassus and the Lejour techniques (47.8 percent). Nipple sensitivity after breast reduction by the other techniques was unchanged (Wuringer, McKissock, and Georgiade) or sometimes even improved (Georgiade) as early as 3 weeks postoperatively. Changes in nipple and areola sensitivity after reduction mammaplasty depend on the surgical technique rather than the weight of resection. Superior glandular pedicle techniques that require tissue resections at the base of the breast are associated with a higher risk of injury to the nerve branches innervating the nipple-areola complex.

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