JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Reducing the risk of nipple necrosis: technical observations in 340 nipple-sparing mastectomies.

Breast Journal 2013 March
Optimizing cosmesis is a common goal of breast surgery. In support of immediate breast reconstruction, nipple-sparing techniques have evolved. There is still a lack of agreement on the optimal technique and skin flap necrosis can be problematic. In this study, we review our experience with 340 NSM. Between March 2006 and February 2011, 340 NSMs were performed. Mammography, ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging were reviewed. Patient demographics and surgical techniques were reviewed. Anatomic observations were made and supported by breast images. A total of 340 NSMs in 231 patients by a single surgeon (AJS) were reviewed. Risk reduction was the indication for surgery in 59% with 50 patients (21.6%) testing positive for a BRCA1/2 gene mutation. There were two flap losses and 14 hematomas. Complete nipple necrosis occurred in three cases (0.8%) and partial loss in six patients. Recommendations are made to reduce the risk of nipple necrosis included the following: (a) preserving major perforating vessels (b) elevating skin flaps in the plane between the subcutaneous fat and the breast glandular tissue (c) the use of incisions that do not devascularize the nipple-areola complex. Nipple-sparing mastectomy can be performed with an acceptably low risk of nipple necrosis. Attention to detail including preserving major perforating vessels, elevating skin flaps in the appropriate plane and careful attention to incision planning are all required for a consistently good cosmetic outcome.

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