Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) with tissue expander reconstruction is a widely used technique that can produce aesthetically pleasing reconstruction results after mastectomy. Nipple position and healthy mastectomy flaps with good vascularity are important determinants of an adequate aesthetic final result. An initial high fill volume of the expander can produce a more natural breast mound appearance postoperatively. However, this can often lead to ischemia with loss of the nipple–areolar complex (NAC). Conversely, low intraoperative fill rates are conducive to enhanced tissue circulation and viability. But this may lead to poor skin envelope draping and nipple placement lower than desired. We have developed a new technique called “Duoderm®-bra” that brings together both mastectomy skin tissue health and aesthetic success with optimal nipple positioning. We hypothesized that with Duoderm®-bra, the NAC can be stabilized in the desired high position and ptosis can be reduced. We also hypothesized that by eliminating the need for acellular dermal matrix and intraoperative fill, “Duoderm®-bra” would decrease the rate of complications. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of using novel “Duoderm®-bra” technique in NSM.
After an institutional review board approval, a retrospective chart review of 35 consecutive patients was done with 65 breasts undergoing NSM and tissue expander reconstruction by the same plastic surgeon. Patients in whom “Duoderm®-bra” was used were compared with patients without the “Duoderm®-bra.” Patients with acellular dermal matrix were excluded. Age, ptosis grade, preoperative nipple to IMF ratio (R/L), tumor characteristics, mastectomy specimen weight (R/L), time from mastectomy to first fill, time from mastectomy to final fill, final fill volume (R/L), NAC and skin necrosis, and other complications requiring surgery were recorded. Postoperative photographs for NAC positioning (side view most projected point versus at a lower point) were assessed using a scoring system. Two groups were then compared.
Complications were higher in the non–Duoderm® group compared with Duoderm®-bra (odds ratio, 4.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.35–15.04; P = 0.021). Optimum nipple positioning was significantly higher with Duoderm®-bra compared with no Duoderm®-bra (odds ratio, 50.0; 95% CI, 10.9–230.1; P < 0.0001). There was no difference in timing from mastectomy to completion of expansion in the Duoderm® group compared with no Duoderm®-bra group (mean difference, −2.35; 95% CI, −10.37 to 5.68).
Use of “Duoderm®-bra” without intraoperative tissue expansion in NSM is a new technique. This technique improves nipple position with less ptosis and greater elevation, decreases flap and NAC necrosis complications, and does not increase total reconstructive period in NSM patients.