Skin-sparing mastectomy is a technique that preserves as much of the breast skin as possible for reconstruction purposes. Skin-sparing mastectomy can be performed with sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), if necessary, or together with an axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) which is called a modified radical mastectomy.
During skin-sparing mastectomy, the surgeon removes only the skin of the nipple and areola. Then the surgeon removes the breast tissue through the small opening that is created. The remaining pouch of skin provides the best shape and form to accommodate an implant or a reconstruction using your own tissue. Many women choose this type of mastectomy to get the most realistic and pleasing results from breast reconstruction.
After skin-sparing mastectomy, there are options for nipple reconstruction. There are surgical options available (with a plastic surgeon) or non-surgical options such as 3D nipple tattooing.
Most women are eligible for skin-sparing mastectomies; however, there are some exceptions:
- A skin-sparing mastectomy is not usually performed if you’ve decided that you will not have immediate breast reconstruction.
- A skin-sparing mastectomy may not be an option if there is a possibility that tumor cells are close to the skin. If there’s any question that the tumor may involve the skin, then that area of skin must be excised.
- Skin-sparing mastectomy cannot be performed in case of inflammatory breast cancer.
Women who are smokers have an increased risk of complications with any form of mastectomy or reconstruction.