The various possible incisions used when a skin-sparing mastectomy is performed preserve most or all of the skin of the breast but allow for removal of the nipple and areola. Compared to traditional mastectomy, skin-sparing mastectomy, when combined with immediate breast reconstruction, minimizes scarring on the breast and helps optimize the cosmetic results of reconstruction. Several of the more commonly used incisions for skin-sparing mastectomy are illustrated.
Clinical research in the field of breast cancer surgery shows that skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) maximizes breast skin preservation and significantly improves the symmetry and natural appearance of reconstructed breasts.
SSM removes breast tissue along with the nipple and areola but leaves most of the breast skin in place. This approach to mastectomy, which retains most of the breast skin and minimizes scarring on the breast, is now widely accepted as oncologically sound in most cases, and when combined with immediate breast reconstruction, makes possible realistic and pleasing results.
Although there are exceptions, most women undergoing treatment for breast cancer and those undergoing prophylactic mastectomy (including BRCA gene mutation carriers) are candidates for SSM surgery. Women seeking even more realistic appearing breasts after mastectomy and reconstruction may want to consider nipple-sparing mastectomy.