Nipples, nips or whatever you want to call them: do I really need them now??

Nipples, nips or whatever you want to call them: do I really need them now??

Yep, I am writing about nipples. Not a subject that I woke up thinking I would write about today but as the day wore on, I have had to evaluate their necessity. Tomorrow I am headed to my friendly neighborhood plastic surgeon for my final phase of my breast reconstruction.


Once upon a time I had them. Other than for reasons of getting down and dirty, I never found them to be of much use. Now you can shoot me as I announce in this world of breastfeeding overload that I DID NOT BREAST FEED MY CHILDREN so I never used them for that. Some of you may stop reading right there, horrified at the idea that I DID NOT BREASTFEED but I encourage you to read on. I have a point here. (A recent Washington Post article talks about a woman who despite having had a double mastectomy prior to childbirth, was lambasted for not breastfeeding. SHE HAD NO NIPPLES PEOPLE. She was told that perhaps the milk could come from her armpits, I kid you not).

Having a double mastectomy was an easy decision. I was on my second case of breast cancer, tested BRCA positive and quite frankly, they were a pair of huge, saggy old lady boobs that I hated. I certainly didn’t want to lose them the way I did but I welcomed the idea that if they would go, I could live knowing that I probably wouldn’t have to endure a third case of cancer.

The day before my surgery I took a picture of those boobs. No, I will not be sharing it, I wouldn’t want to frighten you but I did want to have a memory of what my body looked like pre-scars. I had requested a “nipple sparing surgery” but was told flat out, “you’re too big, you don’t want to end up with nipples at your navel”.

In March I had my implant surgery and since then I have enjoyed fitting into a bathing suit better (not much hope for the bottom half but the top is looking good), don’t have to wear a bra if I don’t feel like it and I can work out without an exercise bra because they don’t really move much. It’s been six months and a pure pleasure. I will admit without getting too terribly graphic that I only miss my nipples for obvious reasons.

With that in mind, I have put off reconstruction of these little nips because I really didn’t care about them at all. I finally scheduled it for tomorrow because if I am going to do it at all, I should now while my insurance will pay 100%. You see, I maxed out my insurance this year; something about a total of $300,000 in bills in a 16 month period. So, I want to get it done while it’s paid for.

But now I am in a quandary. Other than cosmetic, what purpose will they serve?? There are several options of what to do, none of which are all that appealing. The one I have adamantly refused to do is a skin graft from my inner thigh to create them. Unless they guarantee I’ll lose all the fat in my thighs, it’s not gonna happen. I don’t want to undergo anesthesia for the fourth time in a little over a year. Between that and chemo my brain isn’t quite what it used to be. So my other choices are this:

1) I’ll go in tomorrow and my Doctor will make small cuts where the nipples will go and create as he calls it “an origami version”. I’ve seen origami birds and other little animals so I’m concerned about what they will look like. And they will permanently look like I’m cold. Hate that. They will forever protrude. Then in 6 weeks I will have tattoos of the areola inked around the tip. Boom, that’s it.

2) I can have a nipple and areola tattooed. It can be done right in the doctors office with the “tip” being a little darker.

3) I can have  “3D” nipples done by a tattoo artist. My plastic surgeon is not trained to do that and doesn’t know anyone else that does it. Hence, to do this I would have to go to a tattoo parlor, strip myself naked on top and pay $300 per session to have it done. Should take two sessions so another $600 out of pocket on top of the $10K I’ve already spent. Not going to happen.

4) I can have some creative tattoos done. Flowers, vines, etc. Or there’s always skull and crossbones. It’s a thought.

5) I can buy prosthetic (yes, fake) nipples.

6) I can do nothing.

I’m really getting close to number six. Being in the Dr’s office only reminds me that I am a cancer girl and I hate it. When I am not dealing with Doctors I can go about my days without thinking or dwelling on it. Once there, it’s a painful reminder of what I’ve been through.

Are nipples worth it? Help! I need opinions!

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