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imageBackground
Women with large and/or ptotic breasts are often not considered candidates for nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) and/or immediate breast reconstruction given difficulties avoiding ischemic complications and achieving a favorable aesthetic result. We report a novel technique involving deepithelialized skin reduction to simultaneously reduce the skin envelope and preserve perfusion to the skin and nipple in immediate breast reconstruction for women that fit this high-risk anatomic profile.
Methods
We reviewed cases of NSM and skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) with immediate implant-based and free autologous reconstruction by a single plastic surgeon from 2013 to 2017. All patients had at least size C cup breasts (>500 g) and/or grade 3 ptosis. Select patients undergoing NSM had devascularization of the nipple-areolar complex (NAC) 1 to 2 months before surgery to promote adaptive circulatory change. After mastectomy, skin reductions were performed via Wise, periareolar, or circumareolar reduction patterns, with infolding of a deepithelialized inferior and periareolar skin flap over a tissue expander or free flap. In NSM, the nipple was advanced superiorly and redirected through a keyhole of deepithelialized skin flap.
Results
Patients had an average age of 43.6 years and body mass index of 27.7. A total of 33 breasts in 19 patients (14 bilateral, 5 unilateral) underwent deepithelialized skin reduction. There were 14 NSM and 19 SSM. Reconstructions consisted of 13 tissue expanders exchanged to implants and 20 abdominally-based free flaps. Four patients underwent devascularization of the NAC before NSM. Six (18%) breasts had partial thickness flap loss that healed by delayed primary (n = 1) or secondary (n = 5) intention. Four nipples, all in patients without prior NAC devascularization, had ischemic complications (2 epidermolysis, 12.5%; 2 partial necrosis, 12.5%), which all healed by secondary intention with the exception of 1 case of NAC removal.
Conclusions
Skin reduction with deepithelialization and tissue infolding preserves dermal plexus perfusion and promotes nipple and skin flap survival in immediate implant-based and autologous breast reconstruction after SSM and NSM. This technique can be combined with NAC devascularization to further promote nipple perfusion. Overall, this method offers an acceptable complication rate and the potential to expand the reconstructive options available to women with large and/or ptotic breasts.

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