Areola and Nipple Shape and Size

The information in this section is made available through the generous support of Dr. Grant Stevens.

Does the nipple/areola complex come in an average size or is there an aesthetic ideal?

A wide variety of areolar sizes exist.  After reduction surgery, the new areolar diameter is generally set somewhere between 38-48mm, although this can be adjusted based on the aesthetic opinion of the surgeon.

Does the composition of the breast or the opinion of the plastic surgeon decide the size of the nipple/areola complex after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

As mentioned above, the areolar diameter is set by the surgeon to best match the overall breast mound.  If the Areola is already smaller than 48mm, the entire areola is usually saved.  If the areola is much larger than 48mm, the excess is usually trimmed.  The surgeon may vary the size of the areola based on aesthetics and patient preferences.

Is the size of the nipple changed during breast surgery?  Either reduced or augmented depending on your procedure?

The nipple itself (as opposed to the areola) generally remains the same size and shape after surgery.

Is it possible for the areola to spread or stretch after breast surgery?  If so, what is done to fix it?

Like any surgical site, there is always a risk of widened scarring, and the areola is no exception.  In general, periareolar scars tend to blend nicely due to the natural contrast of breast and areolar pigments.  When widened scarring or stretching occurs, a revision of the scar can be performed.  Sometimes, a permanent "purse-string" stitch can be placed to keep the breast skin around the areola from stretching the diameter of the areola.  This is rarely necessary with primary breast reductions or breast lifts.

When having a liposuction only breast reduction, does the nipple/areola complex reduce in size itself?  If it does not, how is it fixed?

Unlike standard breast reduction, liposuction of the breast does not alter the breasts overall shape.  Rather, it tends to reduce the weight and size of the breast.  Likewise, although the areola may decrease in diameter proportionately with the decrease in breast size, it is not reduced or repositioned as it is in standard breast reduction.  Only techniques  that involve skin removal can dramatically change areolar size.

Is a stretched out nipple/areola complex caused by the weight of the breast or by genetics?

A "stretched out" nipple/ areola can be caused by multiple factors including genetics, mechanical forces of the weight of a breast, the elasticity of the skin, age, etc.

If a patient is having a revision to correct the size of the breast after breast reduction, can she also have the size of the nipple/areola complex reduced?


You can also learn more about Nipple Repair here

  • Friday, 15 June 2012