Women are generally very sensitive and sometimes even highly critical about the way they look. Most of them have strong feelings about their assets as they believe those to be the symbol of true feminine beauty. But some women are so conscious of the appearances of their breasts that they end up losing self-confidence. Seeking the help of cosmetic procedures can help them regain their self-esteem. Areola reduction is one such common surgical practices that help women get rid of their aesthetic concerns about areolas, which is a significant part of breasts. However, this is not a topic often talked about. So, if you are also considering areola reduction but do not have much knowledge about it, we are here to help you out.
What Is Areola?
Let us know a bit more about the areola itself before taking a deeper dive into its reduction. 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, there is no specific color, size, and shape for areolas. Just like breasts and nipples are unique to each individual, they differ widely from each other. Hence, 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 absolutely normal.
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What Makes Areolas Different?
The colors, sizes, and shapes of areolas can vary from person to person due to a number of factors. Some of the most common causes behind this are:
- Breast lift surgery
- Weight gain
Why Opt For Areola Reduction?
Areola reduction is a completely 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 make 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 at decreasing the diameter of one or both areolas in order 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 her 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 certain cases) 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 as well as 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 cover the wound by a gauze dressing.
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The surgery usually takes 1-2 hours to complete and you can also return home the same day.
Bruising, swelling, soreness, discomfort, etc. are very 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, make sure that you sleep on your back for a few weeks. You will have to wear a special post-surgical bra for the first week in order 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 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 away. You can also opt for scar-fading treatments like micropigmentation, areola tattooing, etc. after consulting your physician.
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Risks And Complications
Being a surgical procedure, areola reduction comes with potential risks and complications. A temporary loss of sensation, uncomfortably high sensation in 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 if there are 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 see the difference almost immediately.
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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 if you combine it with a breast lift or augmentation or reduction, the estimate will go higher.
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- “Nipple reduction – An adjunct to augmentation mammaplasty”, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Areola Reduction Surgery: What to Expect”, Healthline