Evaluating long-term outcomes following nipple-sparing mastectomy and reconstruction in the irradiated breast

Scott L. Spear, John Shuck, Lindsay Hannan, Frank Albino, Ketan M. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although it is well established that reconstruction of the irradiated breast is associated with diminished cosmetic results and more frequent complications, little is known about the specific effects of radiation therapy on the reconstructive outcomes after nipple-sparing mastectomy. METHODS: Patients who had nipple-sparing mastectomy and had either previous radiation therapy for breast-conservation therapy or postmastectomy radiation therapy were reviewed. Patient demographics, reconstructive details, and postoperative outcomes were analyzed. Patient photographs were used to evaluate aesthetic parameters. Fisher's exact and t tests were used for comparison of groups, with a value of p < 0.05 considered significant. RESULTS: Eighteen patients were identified as having nipple-sparing mastectomy either after breast-conservation therapy (72.2 percent) or before postmastectomy radiation therapy (27.8 percent), with an average follow-up of 3 years. First-stage complications occurred in six patients (33.3 percent). Nipple position was classified as high-riding in 55.6 percent of patients. Average time to revision was 13.3 months. Most common revisions were for correction of malposition (27.8 percent), capsular contracture (16.7 percent), and high-riding nipple (22.4 percent). Capsular contracture occurred more commonly in patients who needed postmastectomy radiation therapy compared with those who had previously undergone breast-conservation therapy (40 percent versus 7.8 percent). Maintenance of reconstruction occurred in 88.9 percent patients, with eventual implant loss occurring in two patients (11.1 percent). CONCLUSIONS: Nipple-sparing mastectomy and implant reconstruction should be approached cautiously in the setting of radiation therapy. When early complications are present, significant morbidity may occur. Late revision surgery is common in this subset of patients. Implant malposition and a high-riding nipple occur most frequently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605e-614e
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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