Surgical Delay of the Nipple–Areolar Complex: A Powerful Technique to Maximize Nipple Viability Following Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy
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- Jensen, J.A., Lin, J.H., Kapoor, N. et al. Ann Surg Oncol (2012) 19: 3171. doi:10.1245/s10434-012-2528-7
Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) improves cosmetic outcome of mastectomy, but many patients are not candidates for this procedure because of concerns about nipple-areolar viability. Surgical delay is a technique that has been used for more than 400 years to improve survival of skin flaps. We used a surgical delay procedure to improve nipple viability in patients who were identified to be at high risk for nipple necrosis following NSM.
Patients at high risk for nipple necrosis following NSM underwent a surgical delay procedure 7–21 days prior to mastectomy. Subareolar biopsy and sentinel node biopsy, if indicated, were performed at the time of the delay procedure. Nipple viability was assessed before and after NSM. If the subareolar biopsy revealed malignancy, the NAC was removed at the time of mastectomy.
31 NAC in 20 patients underwent surgical delay. All of the NAC subjected to a surgical delay survived following the delay procedure. In 2 patients, the subareolar biopsy was positive and 3 NAC were removed at the time of mastectomy (1 for purposes of symmetry). Of the 28 delayed NAC left at the time of NSM, all survived the post-mastectomy course.
A procedure to surgically delay the NAC 7–21 days prior to NSM is demonstrated to ensure viability of NAC in patients previously thought to be at high risk for nipple loss.