The Necessity of the Nipple: Redefining Completeness in Breast Reconstruction.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Satisfaction with breast reconstruction is thought to be greatest among patients who complete nipple and areolar complex (NAC) reconstruction. Anecdotally, many patients are known to decline NAC reconstruction. The authors aimed to characterize the epidemiology of and factors associated with incomplete breast reconstruction.


Breast reconstruction patients with follow-up in a single institution's electronic medical record system were reviewed. Chi-squared and independent t-tests were used to identify variables associated with lack of NAC reconstruction; associated variables (P < 0.05) were used to build a binary logistic regression.


Four hundred thirty-three patients were reviewed. Reconstructions consisted of an average of 4.0 ± 2.0 procedures over 503 (range, 2-3,652) days. One hundred twelve patients had NAC reconstruction or tattooing (25.9%) and 73 (17.6%) had both-226 women (54.6%) had neither. On multivariate analysis, a history of any implant removal was associated with a 93.4% decreased chance of NAC reconstruction (P = 0.002), whereas prophylactic or early-stage mastectomy was associated with 52.9% increased chances of NAC reconstruction (P = 0.009).


Over half of the present cohort did not complete any NAC reconstruction. Patients with later-stage cancer and a history of implant removal were less likely to have NAC reconstruction. The high prevalence of incomplete reconstructions suggests that the classical definition of breast reconstruction completion as requiring NAC reconstruction may be outdated or not applicable to all populations. Instead, "completion" should be considered a subjective determination varying between patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Weissler, EH; Schnur, JB; Lamelas, AM; Cornejo, M; Horesh, E; Taub, PJ

Published Date

  • June 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 78 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 646 - 650

PubMed ID

  • 27845965

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5425304

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1536-3708

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0148-7043

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/sap.0000000000000943


  • eng