Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Nipple reconstruction

Mastectomy usually means removal of the whole breast including the nipple and areola (the coloured area of skin around the nipple), but it is possible to have the nipple reconstructed. Nipple reconstruction is usually done a few months after the breast reconstruction to give the new breast time to settle into its final shape and position.

Skin can be taken from the areola around the other nipple or the top of the inner thigh, since these areas tend to be darker than skin on the rest of the body. Sometimes part of the other nipple can be used as a graft. A nipple can also be reconstructed using an area of skin and tissue which is later tattooed to match the colour of the other nipple and areola. More medical information about nipple reconstruction is available from Macmillan Cancer Support.

Many women who’d had breast reconstruction were waiting to have surgery to match the healthy breast with the reconstructed one (mastopexy). Several were also planning to have nipple reconstruction at this time too, though were unsure about what this would involve.
One woman, who’d had a DIEP flap reconstruction two years after a mastectomy, said she was happy with her new breast and had a nipple reconstructed using her own tissue. Another had nipple reconstruction after an immediate DIEP flap reconstruction. Both said their first nipple reconstruction had failed. One had had another nipple reconstructed shortly afterwards, which had succeeded, and the other was planning to have a second nipple reconstruction. Both were pleased with how their new breast looked.
Most women had surgery to the healthy breast several months after their mastectomy. One woman, though, said she’d waited over a year. She was planning to have her healthy breast reduced in size but chose not to have nipple reconstruction.
Some women said they didn’t have any surgery to the healthy breast or nipple reconstruction because they didn’t want any more surgery after their mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated November 2011.

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