Nipple & Areola Post Op Appearance

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

After breast reduction some patient's nipples look as though they are not well attached and ready to fall off the breast.  Why is that and is it common?

Unless you undergo a "free nipple graft" which involves complete removal of the nipple/ areola and reattachment as a skin graft (usually reserved for extremely large reductions), the nipple and areola should be well attached to the underlying tissue.  There may be an illusion of the nipple "falling off" if the wound edges separate, or if there is significant swelling in the areola relative to the breast tissue.

Why does the nipple/areola complex "puff" out after breast reduction surgery?  How long does this last?  Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

If this happens, it is usually from local swelling which resolves over time.  There is nothing outside of the standard postoperative care that needs to be done.

Why does the nipple/areola complex sometimes not appear to be properly placed on the breast after surgery?  Will they return to their proper position?

Some asymmetry may be due to different degrees of swelling in the right versus the left breat.  If this is the case, it should improve over time.

My nipples react differently to stimuli after breast surgery.  Will they react at the same time (i.e. getting erect) at the same time in the future?  If so, how far in the future?

Just as different women react to surgery differently, each breast can have its own recovery pattern.  There is no way to predict the timing of this recovery, however the healing process usually "evens out" over time.

My nipple/areola complex appears differently on each breast following surgery, will this resolve?  How long should it take?

Most women have breast asymmetry preoperatively, and there is often some asymmetry after breast surgery as well.  Sometimes it may be due to swelling or other processes that resolve over time.  Sometimes scarring or other issues can result in asymmetry that does not resolve.  If the asymmetry is substantial after healing is completed, surgical revision may be needed.

Is it normal to have constantly erect nipples after breast surgery?  Can anything be done to prevent it?

This would be an unusual situation, and would be treated in a similar fashion to people with hypersensitive nipples- protect the tissues from being rubbed excessively by clothes, and wait for the issue to resolve over time.

You can also learn more about Nipple Repair here

  • Friday, 15 June 2012