What are the donor sites for Nipple Reconstruction using a skin graft?

Where does the skin for nipple reconstruction come from? I know this should be the least of my concerns, after all the trouble I've been through with my mastectomy one year ago, but I still want to know.


F, 53, Utah

Tags:woman age 45-54 nipples mastectomy

You have a valid concern about the skin grafting procedure. When I had flap nipple reconstruction done last year the surgeon was able to take it from my other breast. Sometimes plastic surgeons can use the skin where your breast was removed. My surgeon told me that there were other options like a skin graft from my labia or inner thigh but using my other breast was the better option. I know it sounds strange but there are a lot of options for where they can take a skin graft. The inner thigh sounded like it would take a long time to heal so I’m glad that they took it from my breast instead.

For my areola reconstruction surgery, they used my thigh to take donor skin from. They numbed both spots - it didn’t hurt at all while they were doing it. I was a little achy afterwards, but it was nothing to worry about. I have read that sometimes the doctor will take a strip of skin from your labia, but I’m not sure if this is an optional choice that can be made by you. My doctor really didn’t give me an option when it came to where the donor flesh would come from. He just sort of informed me that my thigh was where he would take it from. I was under the impression for a long time that the leg was the only place they took it from.

Before my nipple-areola reconstruction, my plastic surgeon and I discussed the location of my skin graft. We ultimately decided that my lower abdominal region would be the appropriate donor site. My plastic surgeon informed me that some women choose to have skin grafted from other areas, such as the groin or inner thigh. Try not to worry too much about the skin grafting. As long as you have an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon performing your surgery, you should be fine. My plastic surgeon was wonderful throughout my nipple reconstruction and skin graft surgeries. I was properly sedated the entire time, and I was given enough medication after the operation to keep me comfortable during the healing process.

I was definitely worried about that too before my surgery, so I grilled my doctor about that subject. It turns out that most surgeons don't even use a skin graft from somewhere else anymore. For my surgery, they just used skin, fat, and scar tissue from my breast itself to create the new nipple. Since the skin for the graft was taken right from the site, there wasn't any other incision. If I hadn't been a candidate for that style of graft, the donor site would've most likely been from my upper thigh, lower abdomen, or groin area. They talk with you to find a donor site you will be comfortable with, so you should have some choice in the matter.