Areola Reduction Surgery: What to Expect, Costs and Recovery

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The pink or brown area surrounding the nipples, known as the areola, comes in several sizes and shapes. People who are otherwise content with the shape of their breasts may find their areolas too small or too large. You may opt for surgical procedures to change their appearance, especially if it begins to affect your self-esteem. Cosmetic breast enhancement procedures often guarantee excellent results in redefining the shape of your breasts. This is coming from recent research by the Plastic Surgery Group, which shows that there is an increase in the demand for areola aesthetics.

What is areola reduction surgery?

Whether you have puffy areolas or droopy nipples, the areola reduction surgery is the same. A simple and effective procedure, areola reduction involves the removal of skin around the areola. Experienced plastic surgeons would want to assess your medical history before the treatment.

The procedure begins with marking the outer circumference of the present areola and the desired areola circumference, respectively. Then, a small incision is made between both circles, and the skin is stretched forward and stitched to the new areola. Local anesthesia mostly suffices during the quick snip, and many patients can go home the same day. Because areola reduction scars are imminent, the surgeon should combine meticulous techniques to reduce scarring.

Another case is to combine breast lifts with areola surgery. Breast implants, on the other hand, give fuller and bigger breasts, although both procedures are considered cosmetic unless the patient has done a mastectomy. While the drawbacks of breast implants may outweigh its benefits, healthy preoperative and postoperative practices can improve expectations. Sometimes, the areola isn’t proportionate with the breast because the latter has shrunken in size. Hence, a breast augmentation with the fat transfer may restore aesthetics to the breast while maintaining the areola size.

Who Can Get Areola Reduction?

In a questionnaire issued by the Plastic Surgery Group in the UK, 131 people were told to rate the attractiveness of areolas on a scale of one to five, indicating if the nipple diameter were ‘too small’ or ‘too big’. The results showed that most people considered smaller-sized nipples as ‘attractive.’ More so, the study inferred that the areola is:

  • ‘Too small’ if it occupies less than 15% of breast width
  • ‘Too big’ if it occupies more than 50% of the breast
  • ‘Just right’ if it fills only 25 – 30% of the breast

Thus, it isn’t uncommon for people with ‘too small’ or ‘too big’ areolas to seek areola reduction surgery. To a large extent, large or irregularly-shaped areolas are genetic. Another group of people that may opt for areola reduction surgery are pregnant women as weight gain, and breastfeeding often impacts the size, shape, color, and symmetry of the areolas.

Areola Reduction Surgery Cost

Areola reduction surgery costs depend on many factors, namely the amount of excised tissue, your surgeon’s expertise, and the surgery location. Usually, you would expect the price to dangle, but the price tag might be affected by anesthesia and facility fees.

You shouldn’t expect medical insurance to cover costs as areola reduction has no medical benefits. But it is always recommended to examine financing options before the surgery.

How to Prepare For Areola Reduction Surgery

If it’s any consolation for the high price, the areola procedure requires minimal downtime. Indeed, you may be discharged after a couple of hours unless you have opted for a breast lift or reduction. What primarily guarantees the safe and pleasant surgical procedure is your preparedness.

  • Clothing and showering – Showering on the morning of the morning, according to surgeons, is recommended. This step ensures that the patient is rid of lotions, makeup, or deodorant. You must also remove piercings, nail polish, and jewelry before the surgery. As you heal, you will be given post-surgical support garment (such as a softer sports bra and special surgical bra, if you are a woman) to wear.
  • Anesthesia – While you are in the surgical suite, you will be administered local anesthesia or light sedation. Due to this, you may undergo preoperative fasting under strict guidance by your surgeon.
  • Transportation – Post-operation pain may require that you have a support person to ease your movement back home after surgery.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Considering the aim of areola reduction is to reduce the circumference of the dark area around the nipple, here are the steps in the surgery:

  • Two circles are marked around the nipples, one depicting the larger area of the areola, and the other, the smaller and desired area of the areola.
  • A small incision is made between both circles, resembling the shape of a donut.
  • The surrounding skin is pulled towards the new areola and fastened with dissolvable stitches. In other cases, a plastic surgeon may opt for permanent sutures in the breast tissue to prevent enlargement or re-stretching of the areola after surgery.

Areola reduction before and after pictures suggest that areola reductions scar may be minimized, although unavoidable. Visible scars may be masked with areola tattooing.

Possible Risks and Complications

Despite you following the preoperative and postoperative instructions; you may experience potential side effects of areola reduction. A common occurrence is for the nipple to lose its sensation, a condition that may become permanent even when other side effects are gone. Many women also experience scarring and difficulty in breastfeeding. Having good knowledge about the risks and complications, beforehand, can affect your decision for surgery:

  • Nipple asymmetry – After surgery, the nipples may assume an uneven or asymmetric size. If it takes too long for the post-surgical swelling to subside, you may opt for an areola revision procedure.
  • Infection – Perhaps the most common post-surgical complication, nipple infection can lead to severe consequences if ignored. Mitigating this risk will include keeping the incision sites dry and clean, washing hands before redressing the nipples, and avoiding smoking.
  • Prolonged pain – Since areola reduction involves an incision, female patients who are sensitive to hormonal fluctuations may experience discomfort for up to a year or more. Swelling may also occur during the menstrual cycle.
  • Loss of sensation or nipple – Depending on the technique and quantity of incised skin, some people may experience numbness in nipples. This sensation may linger for weeks or months, depending on the patient’s anatomy. A more severe case is the death of nipple tissue. The surgery may result in the constriction or compromise of blood flow to the nipple, especially within the first two days after the surgery, and result in a permanent numbness of nipples.

Other possible risks and complications include loss of pigment in the areola and the reduced ability to breastfeed.

Areola Reduction Surgery: What to Expect During Recovery

The invasive nature of areola reduction makes it essential to emphasize on probable expectations before and after surgery. Many patients are so focused on their areola reduction goals that they often forget to determine how their bodies will adjust post-operation. Patients with favorable anatomy can resume sedentary work after a few days of rest. Although bruising and numbness are imminent, the symptoms are expected to subside within a few short weeks.

Immediately After Your Surgery

Soreness and numbness are characteristic postoperative signs. For this reason, surgeons advise their patients to come with a supportive friend or family who will help them move around.

The First 24 To 48 Hours After Your Surgery

As the tissue heals, patients may begin to ‘leak’ fluid around the incision. Mitigating the risk of infection within the first 24 to 48 hours after the surgery is quite pertinent. You should maintain cleanliness during the healing process and bandage the incision site to minimize infection risks. A follow-up consultation takes place after 7-10 days, during which your surgeon may remove any non-dissolvable stitches.

The First 2 Weeks After Surgery

Surgeons often accelerate their patients’ recovery by providing concise guidance for postoperative care. Patients who adhere to the guidelines, generally, have better postoperative outcomes. During the first two weeks after surgery, the body continually tries to heal. Barring any complications, soreness or numbness must have reduced or disappeared within this timeframe. Generally, you can speed up your healing process by following these steps:

  • Wear a sports bra or surgical garment to provide support for your breasts. For instance, this postoperative bra is designed with seamless cups and straps to promote gradual healing and general comfort.
  • Take recommended analgesics.
  • Get enough rest and engage in healthy practices.

What to Avoid After Nipple or Areola Reduction Surgery

Patients must abstain from sexual intercourse within the first few days of areola reduction surgery. The reason is that arousal induces swelling, accelerating the occurrence of possible side effects. Similarly, chest contact must not occur during the healing process. Patients with sensitive skin may begin to experience further soreness after chest contact.

A necessary preoperative and postoperative caution is to quit smoking. Nicotine in cigarettes induces blood clots in the bloodstream, preventing the incisions from healing and worsening scarring.

Besides, refrain from heavy weightlifting as it mounts pressure on the chest area, increasing the possibility of tears or scarring.

How Long Will the Results of Your Nipple Or Areola Reduction Last?

Areola reduction surgery impacts permanent or lasting effects on the breasts. As long as postoperative symptoms subside within a few weeks, and there is no need for corrective procedures, the areola assumes a well-structured and better-looking appearance than before the surgery.

Areola Reduction Before And After: What to Expect?

After an episode of swelling and bruising comes a time when you can appreciate the areola surgery reduction procedure. In a matter of weeks, you can finally watch your breasts take on a new and desirable position on your upper torso.

What’s more, the areola reduction scar begins to take shape around the new areola, giving you a hint about your healing process. Usually, you may need a few months to a year to heal, depending on your anatomy.

One or two weeks postsurgery, you will have a follow-up consultation with your surgeon. He or she may remove your stitches (if applicable) and will check your healing pattern. If you have scars or swelling, you’ll be administered a topical medication to soothe the area.

Areola Reduction Surgery FAQs

How much is areola reduction surgery?

Like a few invasive procedures, areola reduction surgery cost varies. You may get a discount by opting for a breast lift or augmentation alongside the surgery. If you are on a budget, you may check out professional yet reasonably-priced surgeons around you.

What causes big areola?

Genetics play a huge role in the size, color, and appearance of areolas. Like your foot size, breast size, and freckle pattern, you inherit big areolas from your parents or ancestors. Meanwhile, puberty, weight gain, and pregnancy may change the size and pigmentation of the areolas with time.

How big should my areola be?

Research shows that normal areolas are about 30% of the breast size. Mathematically, it occupies approximately 4 cm of the breasts. But you must understand that the size of your areola also depends on your breasts, and fills up thrice the size of your nipple.

How to tell if my areola is too big?

If you have big breasts, you are likely to have proportionate areolas. However, ‘too big’ areolas will occupy 50% of your breasts.

Areola reduction surgery is a cosmetic procedure that involves minor alterations. The procedure reduces the enlarged nipples caused by several factors. Although the risks associated with the procedure are minimal to severe, they are sporadic and treatable. A certified plastic surgeon is ideally suited for the operation since their expertise preserves general good health.

Last updated on September 30th, 2020

Chris Riley

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