Our genetics dictate how our body forms, determining the shape and size of our breasts, areolae and nipples. Because the various parts of our body develop in different ways, some women may have “perfect” breasts, but still suffer from overly long, large or drooping nipples. In some cases, these features of nipple enlargement (hypertrophy) may be accompanied by abnormally large areolae, though one problem often presents without the other. The condition usually develops during adolescence, after pregnancy or during menopause.
It can be hard for women affected by nipple hypertrophy to wear form-fitting bras or tight clothing. Visible nipples can lead to social embarrassment. Women may choose to undergo nipple reduction surgery.
Whether performed alone or alongside a breast lift, augmentation or reduction, nipple reduction treatment is a safe procedure with a high rate of patient satisfaction.
NIPPLE REDUCTION SURGERY
During the consultation process your surgeon determines how best to treat you by examining the areas of the nipple that require reduction. A reduction in width, length or a combination of both may be recommended. The goal of the procedure is to better balance the size of the areola (the darker coloured tissue in the centre of the breast) and the nipple. Accomplishing this provides a pleasing level of aesthetic symmetry that improves the look of the breasts.
Length reduction is recommended in cases where the nipples are too long, usually drooping downward or projecting too far outward. This condition is treated by removing the tip of the nipple and suturing it closed or excising skin from the “neck” of the nipple before stitching it back at its base. Both techniques work to shorten nipple length.
Width reduction is suitable for patients with nipples that are too thick or wide. The procedure involves the removal of a pie-shaped wedge of tissue from the side of the nipple. Once this has been accomplished, the nipple is then “taken in” and reduced in circumference. Dissolving sutures are used to close the operating area.
LENGTH AND WIDTH REDUCTION
A combination of length and width reduction procedures is recommended for patients who suffer from both overly long and abnormally wide nipples.
A recently published study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch examined the efficacy of corrective nipple treatment on a sample group of 30 patients (29 women and one man with an average age of 38 years old). Of this group 29 of the patients also received supplementary breast augmentation. The study found that all patients reported satisfaction with the results of their surgery and that the reduction technique used was safe, easy for the surgeon to perform and created results that were reproducible whether carried out alone or in conjunction with other forms of breast augmentation.
SPECIAL NOTE ON NIPPLE REDUCTION SURGERY
Please note that despite the safety and exceptional results of nipple reduction, the procedure can lead to complications. This includes making future breastfeeding problematic or changes in nipple sensation. In the study described above, three of the 30 patients reported a decrease in nipple sensation while one patient who later became pregnant was able to lactate, but could not produce enough milk from both breasts to properly breastfeed. These risks are small, but must be considered by any potential patient.