Only recently has nipple-sparing mastectomy been accepted into the mainstream as a viable solution for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. The nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) has essentially been reborn in recent years. The concept of NSM was first popularized in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
At this time, during its early stages of development, the procedure was known as subcutaneous mastectomy. Oftentimes, subcutaneous mastectomies performed in the 1970’s were more focused on optimizing the cosmetic results, and not enough concern was given to removing the maximum amount of breast tissue. In fact, a significant amount of breast tissue was often left behind intentionally to improve aesthetic result and prevent necrosis of the nipple. By the 1980’s, reports of cancer recurrence in the residual breast tissue caused the procedure to fall into disfavor.
Today however, advances in oncological safety and incision selection have made the nipple sparing mastectomy a safe and effective treatment option in carefully selected patients. Today’s Nipple-sparing Mastectomy focuses on a more effective removal of breast tissue than procedures carried out in the subcutaneous mastectomy era. Surgeons now perform this procedure from a cancer prevention perspective and in select patients with breast cancer, maximizing breast tissue removal while still maintaining the best possible cosmetic results.