Necrosis of the nipple-areola complex in breast reduction Our personal way to solve problem

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Giuseppe Colombo
Alessandro Garlaschi
Roberto Stifanese
Giuseppe Giunta
Vittorio Ruvolo


Necrosis of the NAC is a condition that penalizes patients who underwent breast reduction surgery or mastopexy. Breast reduction is a widely used technique for over-sized breasts. Breast hypertrophy, in fact, can cause the onset of many issues - both aesthetical and pathological - because of the excessive weight that the breasts exert on the patient’s spine.

Aim and objective of our study is to suggest a systematic use of diagnostic imaging composed of pre-operative and intraoperative ultrasound with color-Doppler and pre-operative MRI.

Trying to solve this problem definitively, we relied on our notions of anatomy on ten fresh cadavers, on whose twenty breasts we could make very detailed dissections. The dissections led us to conclude that, albeit with their anatomic differences, each breast was characterized by a vascular-nervous pedicle coming out from the inter-costal spaces and aimed to the blood supply to the NAC. To overcome the anatomic variations between one subject and another - but also between one breast and the other from the same patient, we relied on diagnostic imaging, both in the pre-operative and in the intra-operative staging. This way we were able to intervene successfully with 15 patients, none of which has complained damages to the vascularity or innervation of the NAC so far. In conclusion we believe that pre and intra operative diagnostic imaging is the only way to completely eliminate any potential risk of NAC necrosis. Only by means of the systematic use of conventional imaging - especially during surgery - it is possible to constantly monitor the position of the NAC’s pedicle in a breast that is being reduced in volume.

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How to Cite
Colombo, Giuseppe, et al. “Necrosis of the Nipple-Areola Complex in Breast Reduction Our Personal Way to Solve Problem”. Annali Italiani Di Chirurgia, vol. 86, no. 2, Mar. 2015, pp. 156-62,