Many women care deeply about their appearance, especially when it comes to their breasts. For some, the size and appearance of their areolas, the darker skin around the nipples, can be a source of self-consciousness. Cosmetic procedures like areola reduction surgery exist to address these concerns and help women regain confidence in their bodies. Despite being a standard procedure, it’s not widely discussed. If you’re considering areola reduction but don’t know much about it, we’re here to provide information and support.
What Is Areola?
Before diving deeply into its reduction, let us know more about the Areola. There is a common misconception that Areola and nipple are the same thing. But they are NOT. Areola is, essentially, the dark and pigmented area of the skin surrounding the nipple like a small, circular ring. However, areolas have no specific color, size, or shape. Just like breasts and nipples are unique to each individual, they differ widely from each other. Hence, there is no need to worry if the patches of skin around your nipples are brown or pink, large or small, or even differently shaped. All these are normal.
What Makes Areolas Different?
The colors, sizes, and shapes of areolas can vary from person to person due to several factors. Some of the most common causes behind this are:
- Breast lift surgery
- Weight gain
Why Opt For Areola Reduction?
Areola reduction is an entirely personal choice. There is no medical reason behind it. A lot of women feel uncomfortable about having too puffy or too enlarged areolas as they affect the appearance of their breasts. When those patches of skin stand out excessively, they look disproportionate to the rest of the breasts, which not only makes women feel embarrassed but also takes a toll on their confidence level. On the other hand, areolas turn larger and odd in many women after pregnancy or breast lift surgery. They also want them to return to their earlier appearance. In such cases, reduction of areolas is a viable option.
What Is Areola Reduction Surgery?
Areola reduction surgery is a simple cosmetic procedure that involves reducing the size of areolas for an improved appearance of the breasts and the nipples. It aims to decrease the diameter of one or both areolas to address issues like enlarged patches, puffiness, long nipples, and droopy nipples. The surgery can either be conducted on its own or in conjunction with any other related surgery, such as breast augmentation with implants, breast reduction, or breast lift. Although most women choose to undergo it, areola reduction is also quite popular among men (1).
Ideal Candidates For Surgery
Any individual who is not happy with the appearance of their breasts due to stretched, puffy, or asymmetrical areolas can get an areola reduction. However, women must not opt for this surgery until their breasts are fully developed, i.e., till late teens or early 20s. Lactating women are also not good candidates for this surgery.
The Procedure Of Areola Reduction
Following are the steps involved in an areola reduction surgery (2):
1. At first, local anesthesia or general anesthesia (in some instances) is administered by the anesthesiologist.
2. The surgeon marks an incision around the perimeter of the Areola by following a concentric circle so that the scar can be hidden later easily.
3. Then, he cuts a doughnut-shaped section out of the external brown area of the Areola while keeping the nipple attached to the milk ducts and the blood supply. The extra tissue and skin are removed.
4. Next, the skin surrounding the incision site is brought inwards by following the purse-string method, and the new reduced diameter of the Areola is secured by using permanent sutures deep inside the breast
5. Finally, the surgeon closes the incision with dissolvable or removable sutures and covers the wound with a gauze dressing.
The surgery usually takes 1-2 hours to complete, and you can also return home the same day.
Bruising, swelling, soreness, discomfort, etc., are natural for the first few days. But as these subside over time, your breasts settle into the actual position, with the areolas and the nipples appearing smaller and more centered. Do not shower for the first 24 hours after the surgery. A cold compress can help you with the swelling. Also, ensure you sleep on your back for a few weeks. You will have to wear a special post-surgical bra for the first week to hold the breasts in their position for proper healing. There will most likely be a follow-up check-up after a week.
Recovery And Downtime
Areola reduction offers minimal downtime with a pretty quick recovery. You can resume most of your normal activities within 2-3 days. Just ensure that you abstain from bending over, lifting heavy objects, doing a strenuous workout, etc., for a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, the ring-shaped scar around the Areola can take up to one year to fade. After consulting your physician, you can opt for scar-fading treatments like micro pigmentation, areola tattooing, etc.
Risks And Complications
Being a surgical procedure, areola reduction comes with potential risks and complications. A temporary loss of sensation, uncomfortably high sensation in the Areola, inability or reduced ability to breastfeed, infection, scarring, loss of pigmentation in the Areola, etc., are some common side effects of the procedure. However, you must consult your physician for symptoms like severe redness, inflammation, pus leaking from the wound, fever, extreme pain, and unexpectedly slow healing.
Duration Of Results
It is a permanent surgery, and you can immediately see the difference.
Cost Of The Surgery
If you undergo only the areola reduction surgery, it will cost you anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, based on your choice (one breast or both breasts). But the estimate will increase if you combine it with a breast lift augmentation or reduction.
Also Read – Do Breast Firming Creams Work? Truth Revealed!
Areola reduction surgery addresses aesthetic concerns about the areolas, the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple. While areolas naturally vary in size, color, and shape, some individuals seek reduction due to factors like genetics, pregnancy, aging, or breast surgeries. This cosmetic procedure involves decreasing areola diameter to enhance breast appearance. Ideal candidates include those dissatisfied with puffy or asymmetrical areolas. The surgery, lasting 1-2 hours, is typically followed by minimal downtime and a quick recovery. Risks include temporary sensation changes, scarring, and potential breastfeeding challenges. Results are permanent, with costs ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
- “Nipple reduction – An adjunct to augmentation mammaplasty,” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Areola Reduction Surgery: What to Expect,” Healthline