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Nipple and Areola Reconstruction


Nipple and areola reconstruction is a procedure to rebuild the nipple and areola (darkened area around the nipple). Skin from your breast, or a skin graft, may be used for reconstruction. A skin graft is a portion of healthy skin that is taken from another area of your body. This area of your body is called the donor site. The donor site may be your opposite nipple, thigh, or labia (skin folds around the vagina). A skin substitute from a human or animal may also be used to rebuild the nipple and areola. Human and animal cells are removed from the skin substitute to prevent infection.


Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.

Call your doctor or surgeon if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

Remove your nipple shield in 3 days or as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when you can remove the bandage from the donor site. Carefully wash around the incisions with soap and water. Gently pat the area dry and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Check your incisions every day for redness, swelling, or drainage. Do not put powder or lotions on your incisions.

Wear a supportive bra as directed:

You may be given a surgical bra, or asked to wear a sports bra, after your surgery. This will help hold your bandages in place and decrease swelling. It may also give your breast support and decrease pain. Ask your healthcare provider when you can wear a regular bra.


Rest as directed. Do not lift anything heavy or do strenuous activities. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities.


You may choose to have your nipple and areola tattooed. This may be done without nipple and areola reconstruction, or after you have healed from this procedure. Healing may take 3 to 4 months. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about nipple and areola tattooing.

Follow up with your doctor or surgeon as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Nipple and Areola Reconstruction (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.