European Journal of Plastic Surgery

, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 633–638 | Cite as

Nipple reconstruction: risk factors and complications after 189 procedures

  • Arash Momeni
  • Mina Ghaly
  • Deepak Gupta
  • Yvonne L. Karanas
  • David M. Kahn
  • Geoffrey C. Gurtner
  • Gordon K. Lee
Original Paper



A multitude of different approaches have been proposed for achieving optimal aesthetic results after nipple reconstruction. In contrast, however, only a few studies focus on the morbidity associated with this procedure, particularly after implant-based breast reconstruction.


Using a cross-sectional study design, all patients who underwent implant-based breast reconstruction with subsequent nipple reconstruction between 2000 and 2010 at Stanford University Medical Center were identified. The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of the following parameters on the occurrence of postoperative complications: age, final implant volume, time interval from placement of final implant to nipple reconstruction, and history of radiotherapy.


A total of 139 patients with a mean age of 47.5 years (range, 29 to 75 years) underwent 189 nipple reconstructions. The overall complication rate was 13.2 % (N = 25 nipple reconstructions). No association was observed between age (p = 0.43) or implant volume (p = 0.47) and the occurrence of complications. A trend towards higher complication rates in patients in whom the time interval between final implant placement and nipple reconstruction was greater than 8.5 months was seen (p = 0.07). Radiotherapy was the only parameter that was associated with a statistically significant increase in postoperative complication rate (51.7 vs. 6.25 %, p < 0.00001).


While nipple reconstruction is a safe procedure after implant-based breast reconstruction in patients without a history of radiotherapy, the presence of an irradiated field converts it to a high-risk one with a significant increase in postoperative complication rate. Patients with a history of radiotherapy should be informed about their risk profile and as a result may choose autologous reconstruction instead.

Level of Evidence: Level IV, prognostic/risk study.


Plastic surgery Breast surgery Breast reconstruction Nipple reconstruction Radiation 



Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment is a research and development project at Stanford University to create a standards-based informatics platform supporting clinical and translational research. The project described was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through grant UL1 RR025744. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arash Momeni
    • 1
  • Mina Ghaly
    • 1
  • Deepak Gupta
    • 1
  • Yvonne L. Karanas
    • 1
  • David M. Kahn
    • 1
  • Geoffrey C. Gurtner
    • 1
  • Gordon K. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryStanford University Medical CenterPalo AltoUSA

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