Background: Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) has been well described for use in breast reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to describe a novel use for ADM in areolar reconstruction.
Methods: A total of 19 patients and 24 nipple-areolar complexes of breast cancer or BRCA-positive patients status postmastectomy were treated. After nipple flap reconstruction was completed, the areolar complex was marked at 40–45 mm and de-epithelialized. ADM was reconstituted and cut to size. This was sewn into place as an areolar onlay graft using 5-0 chromic running sutures and a vaseline gauze bolster.
Results: All 24 areola re-epithelialized in an average of 8.1 weeks. Graft take was 100% in 23 areolas, while 1 areola had only 75% graft take. Two patients underwent subsequent nipple projection procedures. Sixteen areolas were tattooed for color, with plans to tattoo the others. All patients had satisfactory transition from native skin to nipple-areolar complex. All surveyed patients stated they would undergo the procedure again. Average follow-up was 15.7 months.
Conclusion: The ADM onlay graft for areolar reconstruction is a feasible addition to the plastic surgeon’s armamentarium. The primary benefits of this technique are grafting the donor bed of nipple reconstruction, avoidance of a skin graft donor site wound, and prevention of flattening of the breast dome, as seen with primary closure after nipple flap reconstruction. The cost of ADM must be taken into account ($31 per square centimeter), which could be offset by banking excess ADM at the time of breast reconstruction.