Skin-sparing vs. Nipple-sparing Mastectomy

Different Mastectomy Approaches for Different Needs

Skin-sparing vs. Nipple-sparing Mastectomy

The traditional mastectomy procedure involves surgical removal of the breast glandular tissue as well as removal of the central breast skin. Removal of a significant portion of breast skin can result in a prominent scar across the central breast and can make breast reconstruction more challenging. As a result, more and more breast surgeons and their patients are opting for skin-sparing or nipple-sparing procedures, both of which are less invasive approaches to mastectomy. Our team of plastic surgeons frequently works with breast surgeons that utilize these innovative mastectomy techniques. To help you determine if either of these techniques is right for you, we encourage you to contact our practice today – we would be happy to guide you and answer any questions.

Skin-sparing vs. Nipple-sparing Mastectomy

These two mastectomy techniques afford similar benefits: greater preservation of normal breast skin, less visible scarring, and the ability to reconstruct the breast with a potentially more natural-looking contour. However, not all patients are candidates for both techniques and the two methods are different in approach and outcomes. Not all breast surgeons are experienced with the nipple-sparing technique, which requires careful patient selection. During your consultation, we can educate you on the two techniques, and in discussion with you and your breast surgeon, advise you of which treatment would be best suited for you.

  • Skin-sparing Mastectomy - The skin-sparing mastectomy approach is an alternative to traditional mastectomy that aims to preserve most of the breast skin. For most patients, skin-sparing mastectomy is equally as effective at removing breast cancer as the more traditional mastectomy operation, which requires the removal of significantly more breast skin. As a result, many breast surgeons and their patients now opt for the skin-sparing operation. The skin-sparing mastectomy procedure offers benefits that traditional surgery cannot, potentially improving the outcome and simplifying the process of breast reconstruction, while reducing the degree of scarring. With this technique, the nipple areola is removed along with the breast glandular tissue. Because it is closely associated with underlying breast tissue, the nipple areola is commonly removed along with the breast tissue during mastectomy. In the majority of patients, once the skin-sparing mastectomy procedure is completed, immediate breast reconstruction can then be accomplished, either with an implant-based approach or using the patient’s own tissue.
  • Nipple-sparing Mastectomy - The nipple-sparing mastectomy approach is similar to the skin-sparing mastectomy in that breast skin is preserved. The difference is that, in nipple-sparing mastectomy, the nipple areola is left intact along with the remaining breast skin and only the breast glandular tissue is removed. Because the nipple areola is preserved, not everyone is a candidate for this technique. Nipple-sparing mastectomy has been gaining acceptance by breast surgeons, although they are not all experienced with this approach. When deciding whether or not patients are candidates for nipple-sparing mastectomy, breast surgeons follow specific criteria that take factors such as tumor size and distance from the nipple into consideration. Plastic surgeons also have criteria that they take into account, such as breast size, nipple areola position and the type of reconstruction planned. The main advantage of nipple areola preservation is that the final outcome may have a more natural appearance because the need for nipple reconstruction is potentially eliminated. Recently, the nipple-sparing approach has been gaining popularity among patients that carry a BRCA gene mutation and are having prophylactic mastectomies.

Though similar in concept, skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy procedures are different. The procedure that is right for you will depend on the recommendations of your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon as well as on your desires and expectations. At our practice, we commit ourselves to providing every one of our patients dignified and personal care – we understand the impact that breast cancer and mastectomy can have on your quality of life, and we are genuinely committed to helping in any way that we can.

Contact the Plastic Surgeons of the New York Breast Reconstruction Associates at Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, PC

We invite you to contact our practice today to schedule a consultation. Our surgeons have performed thousands of breast reconstructions and can answer any questions you might have about mastectomy or breast reconstruction, so that you can make an informed decision regarding treatment.


Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, PC Great Neck Office 833 Northern Blvd
Ste 160

Great Neck, NY 11021
(516) 498-8400

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