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Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery:
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Configuration and Localization of the Nipple-Areola Complex in Men.

Beer, Gertrude M. M.D.; Budi, Srecko M.D.; Seifert, Burkhardt Ph.D.; Morgenthaler, Werner M.D.; Infanger, Manfred M.D.; Meyer, Viktor E. M.D.

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Abstract

: The causes of bilateral absence of the nipple-areola complex in men are seldom congenital, but attributable rather to destruction as a result of trauma, or after mastectomy in female-to-male transsexuals and in male breast cancer, or after the correction of extreme bilateral gynecomastia. Such a bilateral loss becomes a major reconstructive challenge with respect to the configuration and localization of a new nipple-areola complex. Because there is very little information available in the literature, we carried out a cross-sectional study on the configuration and localization of the nipple-areola complex in men.

A total of 100 healthy men aged 20 to 36 years were examined under standardized conditions. The first part of the study dealt with the configuration of the nipple-areola complex (dimensions, round or oval shape). The second part concentrated on the localization of the complex on the thoracic wall with respect to anatomic landmarks and in correlation to various parameters such as weight and height of the body, circumference of the thorax, length of sternum, and position in the intercostal space.

Of the 100 subjects examined, 91 had oval and seven had a round nipple-areola complex. An asymmetry between the right and the left side was found in two cases. The mean ratio of the horizontal/vertical diameter of an oval nipple-areola complex was 27:20 mm and the mean diameter for a round nipple-areola complex was 23 mm. The center of the nipple-areola complex was in the fourth intercostal space in 75 percent and in the fifth intercostal space in 23 percent of the subjects. To localize the nippleareola complex on the thoracic wall de novo, at least two reproducible measurements proved to be necessary, composed of a horizontal line (distance from the midsternal line to the nipple = A) and a vertical line (distance from the sternal notch to the intersection of line A, = B). The closest correlation for the horizontal distance A was given by the circumference of the thorax: A = 2.4 cm + [0.09 x circumference of thorax (cm)], (r = 0.68). The best correlation to calculate the vertical distance B was found using the distance A and the length of the sternum: B = 1.2 cm + [0.28 x length of sternum (cm)] + [0.1 x circumference of thorax (cm)], (R = 0.50).

In cases of bilateral absence, we recommend creating an oval nipple-areola complex in men. The appropriate localization can be calculated by means of two simple equations derived from the circumference of the thorax and the length of the sternum. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 108: 1947, 2001.)

(C)2001American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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