Skin- versus Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

Skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy surgeries preserve some of a patient’s breast tissues to be used during breast reconstruction. Dr. Oren Lerman can help you understand skin- versus nipple sparing mastectomy during a consultation at his Manhattan, New York, practice, explaining candidacy, expected results, and more. 

About Tissue-sparing Mastectomy

A tissue-sparing mastectomy uses small incisions around the nipple or on the underside of the breast to access and remove tissue for the purpose of addressing or preventing cancer. This approach can result in a natural-looking breast reconstruction.

Because traditional mastectomies remove breast tissue, skin, and the nipple, they often leave a noticeable scar across the chest. The tough, fibrous scar tissue is much harder to work with than other tissue, which makes natural-looking results more difficult to achieve. Tissue-sparing mastectomy can help many women achieve results that more closely resemble their pre-mastectomy bust.

skin-sparing mastectomy incisions
Skin-sparing mastectomy incisions are placed in a way that minimizes scarring and preserves maximum healthy tissue.

How Skin-sparing and Nipple-sparing Techniques Differ

Because the nipple and underlying breast tissue are connected, conserving the nipple during mastectomy is more complicated than sparing the skin. Dr. Lerman is one of a relative few surgeons trained in the nipple-sparing technique.

Both techniques have specific candidacy. While the nipple-sparing technique offers the most natural-looking results, the criteria for candidacy are narrow. Primarily, the tumors must be non-aggressive, and must be a certain distance from the nipple. It is often better suited for women with small or moderately sized breasts. 

Only your plastic surgeon, working closely with your oncologist and other healthcare providers, can determine if a tissue-sparing mastectomy is right for you.

In general, the nipple-sparing technique may be recommended if surgery is addressing small tumors or serving as a preventative measure. Meanwhile, the skin-sparing technique has less stringent candidacy requirements. However, either technique can only be recommended if the tumor or tumors are not close to the surface of the breast. If they are, the surgeon will most likely need to remove the nipple as well as the skin.

Only your plastic surgeon, working closely with your oncologist and other healthcare providers, can accurately determine if a tissue-sparing mastectomy is in the best interest of your health, and if so, which approach is best for you. Fortunately, if you do not qualify for a tissue-sparing mastectomy, an experienced surgeon focused on breast reconstruction can provide realistic results using other methods of flap and implant reconstruction. In addition to breast reconstruction, Dr. Lerman performs nipple reconstruction, a procedure that uses a flap technique to create a natural-looking nipple. While tattooing a nipple onto the reconstructed breast can achieve a similar effect, the results lack the true three-dimensional qualities of a nipple recreated using a flap technique. Nipple reconstruction can be safely performed following full recovery from breast reconstruction.

Contact Us Today

Both skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies can significantly improve the aesthetic results of your breast reconstruction. If you are interested in making a tissue-sparing technique part of your mastectomy, reach out today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Oren Lerman and learn more about your candidacy.

Dr. Oren Lerman

Oren Z. Lerman, MD

Dr. Oren Lerman performs a variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures with a specialty in reconstructive breast surgery. In fact, he is the director of breast reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital's Institute for Comprehensive Breast Care as well as the Microvascular and Cosmetic Breast Fellowship. In addition to the hospital, Dr. Lerman is affiliated with:

  • The New York Regional Society of Plastic Surgeons (Past President)
  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery (Diplomate)
  • The American College of Surgeons (Fellow)
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • The American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery

You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Lerman by filling out our online form or calling (212) 434-6980.

Contact Us Today

"The one thing that is most important when we're doing cosmetic surgery and aesthetic surgery of the face or the body is to make sure that the patient is happy afterwards..." Dr. Oren Lerman

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