Breast Reduction Incision Seems to Be Splitting Around Nipple, What's the Cause?

I had surgery a little over 2 weeks ago and the steri strips around the nipple just came off - I noticed on my right breast, which had a lot of swelling, that the skin was raw and looked a bit detached and white on the edge on one side of the nipple - I am worried - what is happening? I have not had any draining or bleeding - I am worried about my nipple.

Doctor Answers 9

Breast reduction incision breakdown--don't worry, your nipple won't come off!

Incisional breakdown can expose the moist dermis below the epidermis surface of your two incision edges. That moist dermis is white, and if kept clean (soap and water gentle washes daily, NOT peroxide) should continue to heal from the bottom up. The slightly separated wound edges will soon be completely adherent, and will usually go on to heal uneventfully, possibly with a slightly wider scar, but less than the width you see now.

Your nipple/areola complex is attached to your deeper tissues (unless you are a rare case of nipple/areola free skin graft--used only on the very largest breasts and very infrequently), and won't "come off"  or have any other issues.

Realize that any open incision or wound can become infected, but this means you should keep it clean and be watchful for pain, redness, swelling, or purulent (pus) drainage. Fever and chills come later! Antibiotic ointment may be recommended by some doctors, but too many patients develop allergic reactions from repeated application, and that looks like an infection when in fact it is not. So I vote for clean and a nice gauze dressing or cotton bra until healed. "Raw skin" can be from the epidermis blistering, a common side effect of swelling putting traction on steri strips, and why I not longer use them.

Of course, you should be addressing your concerns with your surgeon, who you WILL call if there is a problem. So why not give him or her a call now before a problem develops. I know I would want that call! Best wishes!

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Wound problems after breast reduction

Small gaps commonly form at incisions lines after breast reduction.  In most cases this is of no consequence.  Follow up with your surgeon: he/she will likely reassure you that things will be okay in the end.

Daniel Greenwald, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Wound healing after breast reduction

It is not uncommon to have some wound healing issues after breast reduction.  It may be due to swelling or stress on the wound site.  Have your surgeon evaluate you.  He may want you to do some wound care until the area heals and use a good support garment.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Worried About Nipple after Breast Production?

Congratulations on having undergone the breast reduction procedure; it is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.

The best advice I have for any patient 2 weeks out of breast reduction surgery ( who is “worried about my nipple”) is to see your plastic surgeon. Online consultation will never replace in-person examination/diagnosis/treatment.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Healing issues are common after breast reduction

Small healing issues such a suture spitting, minor separations under steri strips, are not that uncommon for all surgeons. Keep the areas very clean, a light cover can help, and your surgeon should be able to see you through.

Best of luck,

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Wound dehiscence around breast reduction incision

It is not uncommon for the edge of a nipple-areolar complex to dehisce. You should continue to followup with your plastic surgeon to insure that the nipple color remains pink and that it has adequate blood supply.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Wound separation with breast reduction

Sometimes there are small separations of the wounds at various spots. Often they go on to heal without significant problems.  Keep a close eye on it with your doctor and follow the wound care instructions that he gives to you.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Wound healing after a breast reduction

It is not rare for there to be a little wound separation and delayed healing after a breast reduction.  Certainly, this should be evaluated by your plastic surgeon as they would want you communicating these concerns to them directly rather than on line.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Skin Splitting after Breast Reduction

Based on what you describe, it should not be a problem and you should allow it to heal. Let your plastic surgeon know what is going on.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.