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Circumvertical Mastectomy Incision: Refinement in the Surgical Scar of Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Chapman-Jackson, Emme D. MD; Griner, Devan MD; Brzezienski, Mark A. MS, MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000094
Clinical Papers

Different surgical incisions have been proposed for skin-sparing mastectomy in an attempt to better disguise the remaining scar. These techniques are more hidden than the Stewart incision but can still leave scars in visible places and can restrict the natural shape of the upper pole. They can also add complexity and time to the mastectomy, requiring extensive retraction that could damage the salvaged skin flaps to perform an adequate mastectomy. We present a circumvertical mastectomy incision technique, which limits the mastectomy scar to the inferior pole, provides natural lateral contour, superior pole fullness, and contributes to a more youthful breast projection. Between November 2011 and November 2012, 51 women underwent circumvertical AlloDerm/tissue expansion reconstruction at our institution by a single surgeon. The reconstruction was bilateral in 30 patients and unilateral in 21 patients for a total of 81 breasts. Of the 81 reconstructed breasts, 5 patients went on to require a latissimus dorsi flap for definitive reconstruction and 3 failed breast reconstruction for a completion rate of 96%. The goal of creating breast reconstruction results comparable to those of cosmetic breast surgery is becoming a reality. Circumvertical incision is a technique that can prevent visible upper hemispheric breast scarring, limit upper pole constriction by scar placement, and preserves or restores breast projection. Following the principles of aesthetic breast surgery and repositioning the mastectomy scar, one can reconstruct a breast with a more disguised scar, which can be hidden from the patient’s downward gaze.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga, TN.

Received November 1, 2013, and accepted for publication, after revision, November 13, 2013.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: no conflicts of interest; funded by the Plastic Surgery Foundation of Chattanooga.

Reprints: Emme D. Chapman-Jackson, MD, The Plastic Surgery Group Suite C-920, 979 East 3rd St, Chattanooga, TN 37403-2136. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins