Breast Reduction Surgery: Free Nipple Graft Technique

Reduction mammoplasty is the scientific term for breast reduction surgery. Among the various techniques that are used for performing breast reduction surgery, the Free Nipple Graft Technique is quite common.

A breast reduction surgery is aimed at reducing the size of the breasts among men and women. Breast reduction surgery has an aesthetic and medical application. In some women, breast reduction is needed since the extremely large size of the breasts induces problems like pain in the neck, back and shoulder. However, some women seek breast reduction surgery as a follow-up to a previously-conducted breast enhancement surgery wherein they feel that the size of their breasts has been augmented beyond the required extent.

Some women seek breast reduction surgery to ensure that their bodily features are better balanced.ᅠSometimes breast reduction is conducted in coherence with breast reconstruction, wherein smaller parts of the breast tissue are removed for creating a uniform-looking breast in the aftermath of breast tissue damage due to cancer. This surgery is also performed among men, i.e. among males that have significantly bigger breasts due to medical conditions such as gynecomastia or men with overtly developed breasts due to the presence of excessive fatty tissue.

Advantages of Free Nipple Graft Technique

One of the major problems in conducting breast reduction surgery is ensuring the safety of the NAC blood supply. This refers to the blood supply in the nipple and areola complex. In patients wherein severe blood supply problems are hinted during their medical evaluation prior to the surgery, the free nipple graft method is recommended.

Patients who are suffering from medical conditions like diabetes or those who have a lower chance of proper recovery due to lifestyle habits like smoking present a post-operative problem wherein there is a greater likelihood of restriction in blood supply or ischemia during the post-operative phase. This can severely hamper the health of the breast tissues and may even lead to tissue degeneration or necrosis. To counter such problems, the free nipple graft method takes a more comprehensive and invasive step towards breast reduction.


Here, the nipple and areola are temporarily removed, i.e. they are surgically excised. This means that the surgeon has proper access to the underlying tissues and he can ensure that the blood supply in the underlying tissues in not compromised during the breast tissue removal. The removed nipple and areola complex is placed in a saline sponge-like preparation that helps to preserve the NAC for immediate re-attachment after the surgeon has removed the excess breast fat/tissue and stitched the overly skin.

The more invasive nature of this surgery also ensures that larger amounts of breast tissue can be removed during a single surgery. Thus, it is often sought by women who have abnormally large breasts. Some women choose this surgery despite some of the associated risks since it is much quicker and needs minimal time under anesthesia.

Risks of Free Nipple Graft Technique

This surgical approach is a bit more complicated. This is because the temporarily removed areola and nipple need to be relocated via skin grafts. In some cases, there is an increased risk of loss of sensation or the reduced ability to lactate after the breast reduction surgery. This is because the relocation of the areola and nipple is vulnerable to the smallest of mistakes and most of the adverse affects surface a few weeks after the surgery, i.e. after the proposed post-operative care period has passed.

Further, there is a risk that the actual color of the nipple and the areola might fade over a period. Lactation-linked possible problems mean that this technique is usually recommended to slightly older women, i.e. women who are not likely to have children.

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