A nipple-sparing mastectomy is a surgery that can be used to treat or help prevent breast cancer. It involves removing all tissue within the breast through a small incision while leaving the nipple, areola and most of the enveloping breast skin intact. The resected breast tissue is immediately replaced with an implant or tissue from elsewhere in the body to restore the natural shape and appearance of the breast. Comparatively, a total mastectomy involves removing the entire breast, including the nipple and skin. A nipple-sparing mastectomy may be performed on one or both breasts depending on a woman’s diagnosis and preventive care preferences.
Tissue that is removed from the breast during surgery is checked for signs of cancer. If cancer is present, the nipple is also removed while remaining breast skin is left intact, turning the procedure into what’s known as a skin-sparing mastectomy.
When is a nipple-sparing mastectomy appropriate?
While not every patient is a candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy, it may be a viable option for a woman who:
- Has a tumor that is not located in or beneath the nipple or areola
- Has a tumor that is surrounded by an acceptable margin of normal, healthy breast tissue
- Does not currently have breast cancer, but would like to reduce her risk through preventive (prophylactic) surgery
A man diagnosed with breast cancer may also be a candidate for a mastectomy, although a nipple-sparing procedure is not usually recommended.
Breast cancer surgery at Moffitt
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program is a well-established leader in breast cancer treatment and integrative supportive care. The expertise of our multispecialty team includes minimally invasive procedures such as nipple-sparing mastectomies as well as reconstructive surgeries for women who have completed breast cancer treatment.