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Women dealing with breast cancer typically opt to undergo a mastectomy to remove the cancer, prevent its growth, and reduce the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Modern medicine has given women more options with this cancer treatment, and one of the most beneficial medical breakthroughs for women is a breast cancer treatment called nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM). How does this differ from a traditional mastectomy? Our breast cancer surgeons provide information about the 3 most important characteristics to keep in mind when working with your surgeon to determine which approach is best for you.
Comparing Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy to Traditional Mastectomy
- Procedure – Both procedures remove milk-producing tissue. With nipple-sparing mastectomy, the nipple, areola, and breast skin are preserved, keeping the outward appearance of the breast as intact as possible. Older mastectomy techniques include the nipple and central skin, leaving a large scar and disfigured appearance.
- Aesthetics – As mentioned above, after a nipple-sparing mastectomy, the breast’s general appearance remains intact, while in traditional mastectomy, nothing remains of the breast’s original appearance—only a scar that usually runs across the area where the breast used to be. The area operated on becomes flat, giving the patient’s chest area an uneven look and feel if no reconstruction is performed.
- Patient prognosis – While the mastectomy that spares the nipple, areola, and breast skin is more appealing, not all breast cancer patients are good candidates for the procedure. The priority is to ensure no cancer cells are left behind. Determining if this can be achieved with nipple-sparing mastectomy is the key to determining whether or not a woman is a good candidate for the procedure.
What does nipple-sparing mastectomy look like?
Many women want to know what the results of a nipple-sparing mastectomy look like. Here are a few photos from our photo gallery that illustrate typical results our patients can expect.
Every woman is unique, and at Bedford Breast Center, your treatment is tailored to your body and your needs. Your results may vary.
Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy FAQs
These are some of the most commonly asked questions about nipple-sparing mastectomy. If you have additional questions, schedule an appointment with our breast cancer surgeons by calling our office at (866) 229-8807.
Who is a candidate for nipple-sparing mastectomy?
Nipple-sparing mastectomy is usually recommended for patients with early-stage breast cancer or for those who are at high risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic factors. Patients with larger tumors or those with cancer that has spread to the nipple or areola may not be candidates for this procedure. Other factors that may affect the patient’s eligibility for the nipple-sparing procedure include other health conditions such as diabetes if the patient is a smoker, and if the patient has a history of prolonged or delayed healing.
What are the benefits of nipple-sparing mastectomy?
The main benefit of this approach is that it preserves the nipple and areola, which can lead to a more natural-looking breast after surgery. It also may reduce the psychological impact of losing the nipple and areola, which can be important for some patients. Learn more in this blog post.
What is the recovery time after nipple-sparing mastectomy?
Recovery time after nipple-sparing mastectomy varies depending on the individual patient and the extent of the surgery. Patients will experience some discomfort and swelling after the procedure, but this can usually be managed with pain medication. Most patients can return to normal activities within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
You should discuss the procedure thoroughly with your cancer surgeon to learn more about its pros and cons. You may be an ideal candidate, or other forms of treatment may be more beneficial for you.