Added by Klaudia Grabowska on 30.05.2022

Areola reduction surgery - what is it?

Areola is a coloured, pigmented area which surrounds the nipples. Generally, areola nipple and breasts have various shapes, sizes and colours, and it is totally normal to have more areola tissue than others. However, there are some standards as for the size of male areola and female areola and even though there are some “deviations” to it, it is just natural anatomy of an individual. Having excessive areola connective tissue may cause discomfort for some people and make them look less attractive than others. Here, people may opt for an areola reduction surgery. Areola reduction is a simple and fast cosmetic surgery which reduces the diameter of areolas (or one areola).

Areola surgery can address such problems as: wide nipples, droopy nipples, puffy areolas, long nipples, enlarged areolas, misshapen areolas.

The main reason for too large areolas / nipples is genetics, yet people may develop this condition also after breastfeeding, pregnancy, during ageing, or as a result of some trauma. Regardless of the reason, areola cosmetic plastic surgery can effectively and permanently eliminate the problem of increased areolas and restore a natural, attractive and symmetrical look of the breasts.

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Areola reduction is a simple and fast cosmetic surgery which reduces the diameter of areolas (or one areola).

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Reasons to have areola reduction surgery

People having enlarged areolas or nipples look for various options of how to look better and tend to compare themselves with the beauty standard. As we all know, standard of beauty around the world is an ideal which in fact does not exist, and we should never compare ourselves to others. But the truth is, abnormal areola or a condition where one areola is smaller than the other (one areola bigger than the other) may disturb self-image and make people feel unattractive, ashamed or worse than the rest. So, on the one hand we encourage people to accept their body and not to subject their worth to the physical look, but on the other hand, we realize that there are some well-grounded reasons for getting areola reduction surgery.

So, the most common reasons for areola reduction surgery include:

  • big areola / massive areola;
  • areola breast changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding (areola during pregnancy and breastfeeding are subjected to changes, women may notice large areola and stretched areola or areola size increase, sometimes there may develop only one huge areola);
  • puffy areola;
  • areola different sizes (e.g. there may be one giant areola or enlarged areola and one may be symmetrical, normal);
  • various areola shapes;
  • too feminine areolas (e.g. large areola men) or too masculine areolas;
  • protruding areola;
  • stretched, shapeless areola caused by significant weight loss.

The reasons above are just the examples of good reasons for areola size change. However, any situation when people wonder how to make areola smaller, how to reduce areola size or how to restore a natural areola size can be considered as a good reason to check the option of areola reduction surgery.

breast-shaped cupcakes

Despite the idea of accepting your body and not to subject its worth to the physical look, there are some well-grounded reasons for getting areola reduction surgery.

What procedures are performed together with areola reduction?

Areola reduction is an individual plastic surgery, so it is performed as a single procedure. However, it is common to combine it with other surgeries. In general, the most popular combinations include other breast surgeries.

Men can get it combined with gynecomastia procedure or chest liposuction / chest lift.

Women can get areola reduction with breast lift. Doing breast lift and areola reduction is a solution often recommended to patients because after lifting, the areola position and size may get unnatural. Apart from breast lift surgery, women can combine areola surgery with breast reduction or beast augmentation.

Types of areola reduction surgery

There are some techniques available for areola reduction. They differ in incision location and shape. First of all, technique of areola reduction surgery women may be different than areola reduction surgery male – it results from a different breasts anatomy and size.

Male areola reduction can also be combined with gynecomastia. The incisions for gynecomastia areola procedure may differ from individual male areola reduction. Regarding areola reduction women, when the procedure is combined with breast lift, reduction or augmentation, different incisions may be involved.

Finally, as for areola reduction, there are 2 main techniques that are used – they are wedge technique and flap technique. The usage of the technique depends on the breasts anatomy and other surgeries involved. Each patient is provided with a surgery technique during the consultation after a plastic surgeon sees the breasts and determines the scope of the surgery.

Areola reduction candidate

A good candidate for areola reduction is a person who fulfils certain criteria. Of course, these criteria are not strict, and each patient is qualified for the procedure individually by a plastic surgeon, yet they can give us a rough idea of whether we can consider areola reduction. So, a good candidate for this surgery is a person who:

  • feels the areolas or nipples are too large (having large areola or puffy areola is the most common reason);
  • has developed abnormal areola / protruding areola due to pregnancy, weight loss, breastfeeding or ageing;
  • has areola asymmetry (one areola is smaller than the other);
  • is in good physical condition and in good health;
  • maintains a stable weight for a longer time;
  • do not smoke;
  • has realistic expectations (setting realistic expectations is very important).

Areola reduction surgery contradictions

Poor health of a patient is a main contradiction to the surgery.

Regarding the contradictions to areola reduction, the main reason why surgeons refuse to perform the surgery is poor health of a patient.

Having some uncontrolled conditions (e.g. type 2 diabetes, cardiac problems or hypertension) can greatly increase the risk of post-op complications. Even catching a simple cold or cough before the surgery may require postponing it. So, it is particularly important to take care of your health before any plastic surgery.

The other factors that can disqualify patients from areola reduction include having unstable weight (e.g.being on a diet) or being a heavy smoker (all qualified patients must stop to smoke for at least 4 weeks before and after the procedure).

Before areola reduction

The period before the plastic surgery is really important. Patients are excited, yet worried about the surgery outcome. There are some guidelines, thanks to which patients get well-prepared for the surgery and reduce the risk of possible complications even more. Every patient has a consultation some time before the surgery – then, a surgeon gives patients pre reoperative instructions. During this consultation, a surgeon examines patient’s skin quality, analyses medical history, does physical exam, and examines breasts. The guidelines for a patient usually include the following tips:

  • gather patient medical history, all reports from the doctors especially if you suffer from any medical conditions;
  • fill in medical history form and undergo full physical exam;
  • avoid specific medications, e.g. Ibuprofen or Aspirin for 2 weeks before the surgery; also any taken medications should be reported to the surgeon;
  • organise time off work, do the groceries, ask someone for help if you have children;
  • arrange transport back home from the hospital;
  • stop smoking at least 4 weeks before the surgery, patients should also declare to quit smoke for a few weeks after the surgery;
  • remember about hydration and healthy diet – it will make recovery faster;
  • take a final look at the treatment plan: anaesthesia used, hospitalization time, total cost
  • take photographs of your breasts so that you can compare your look before and after the surgery;
  • follow the instructions for the surgery day (do not eat or drink anything on this day, do not use any cosmetics, just an antibacterial soap, do not put makeup on, wear loose comfortable clothes).

 

breastshaped vase

Following preop instructions is essential for good surgery outcome.

Areola reduction procedure

Areola reduction is a procedure which is simple, fast and minimally-invasive. If done individually, it should take no longer than 60 minutes. The surgery can be performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia. The type of anaesthesia and sedation is chosen individually and depends on the complexity of the procedure, patient’s health condition, preferences and surgeon’s recommendations. So, applying the agreed anaesthesia is the first step of the surgery.

Then, a surgeon moves on to making an incision. Incision lines go around the areola, on its edges. If the surgery involves nipple reduction too, the surgical incision lines are made also on the nipples. The excessive areola tissue is removed, and the remaining tissue is wrapped, shaped and lifted. A newly shaped areola is secured with deep sutures. These sutures have an important role – they prevent future possible stretching of areola after breast tissue removal.

The areola incision is closed with stitches. Usually, there are dissolvable surgical stitches used, but sometimes a surgeon may decide to put removable stitches for surgical wound. The surgery is over at this point – a patient is moved to a post-op room to rest for a few hours. In case of local anaesthesia, patients leave the clinic within a few hours, but after general anaesthesia patients stay in the clinic for a night.

Areola reduction recovery and aftercare

Thanks to the simplicity of the areola reduction procedure, the post-surgical recovery and healing process are very smooth and fast. Of course, all patients are provided detailed aftercare instructions and post-operative instructions before they leave the clinic, so they know how to take care of the operated sites in order to enhance surgical wound healing and enable a smooth recovery.

The most important aspects of areola reduction plastic surgery aftercare include the following:

  • getting back to normal is possible after 1-2 days – patients can return to most of their daily duties or return to work;
  • swelling, bruising and discomfort are normal symptoms, they are the most intense in the first week, then they alleviate day by day;
  • patients may need pain killers during the first post-op days, there may be pain in the operated area; yet over-the-counter medications should be enough here;
  • in order to prompt the healing and recovery, patients should avoid stress, get nutrition, have a positive attitude, get rest and avoid very tiring physical activity for 2-3 weeks;
  • a doctor may put bandage on the areolas, so patients should make sure they know how to take care of the wounds and how to change bandages and sterile gauze dressings;
  • compression garment (a special bra) must be worn for several weeks according to specific doctor’s instructions; special bra after breast surgery enables achieving desired results;
  • abstaining from sex for the first week after the surgery is recommended, also chest contact should be avoided for 3-4 weeks;
  • from the 2nd week, patients may increase physical activity level gradually, yet they should remember that the strenuous cardio training or lifting heavy objects is not allowed for a few weeks;
  • areola incision healing process and scar formation is always the longest part of healing, and it requires a proper care even after the final effects are visible.

Finally, as can be seen, areola reduction does not cause many restrictions or limitations during the recovery. Patients get independent immediately after the procedure, they do not need to resign from any daily activities. The recovery itself is usually smooth for patients, yet all the surgeon’s guidelines must be followed. Patients should just bear in mind that the recovery instructions may change when the areola reduction is combined with any other surgery.

pink napkin with breast print

Patients should bear in mind that the recovery instructions are extended when the areola reduction is combined with any other surgery.

Areola reduction pros and cons

Making the list of advantages and disadvantages of areola reduction is a helpful tool which enables making the decision about the procedure. Below, we present the most important good and bad sides of this surgery.

Pros

The pros of areola reduction include:

  • very fast result (the effects are immediately visible and thanks to only moderate swelling, they are not blurred at the beginning);
  • the effects are permanent;
  • improved confidence and better psychological well being;
  • better aesthetic appearance;
  • minimally invasive surgery / using minimally invasive surgical techniques;
  • minimal scarring;
  • achieving normal areola / smaller areola; some patients admit the surgery allows for achieving a perfect areola / perfectly small areola;
  • having good looking breast.

Cons

The cons of areola reduction include:

  • there is a possibility of post-surgical complications;
  • scarring, developing prominent areola reduction scars;
  • breastfeeding problem (also permanent problem with breastfeeding);
  • nipple numbness;
  • bad results, areolas asymmetry;
  • the need for revision surgery.

Areola reduction side effects, complications and risks

Surgery risks are an aspect connected to every surgery, so not only beauty patients must face plastic surgery risks. Post-surgical complications may happen after any medical procedure, and it is just important to realize what may happen and how to prevent it. Most of the plastic surgery risks and complications can be well-controlled or avoided, and they are not dangerous at all. Patients who realize what plastic surgery risks and dangers they may face, can get prepared for it and tackle any complications before they develop.

The great advantage of areola reduction procedure is the fact that it’s a minimally invasive procedure, and the potential risks are minimal. The most frequently mentioned risks of areola reduction surgery are:

  • unfavourable scarring (visible scars) or thick scarring;
  • infection;
  • inflammation;
  • skin numbness (there may be temporary or permanent skin numbness after surgery);
  • nipple numbness;
  • slow wound healing;
  • bleeding;
  • anesthesia risks;
  • swelling;
  • breastfeeding problem (for some women, problem with breastfeeding is permanent);
  • blood clots.

In general, plastic surgeons always draw patients’ attention to three potential complications that patients must realise and accept. They include:

  • inability to breastfeed – for some women breastfeeding may be really important, so if they plan to have children in the future, they have to realize that the problem may occur. Of course, some women have no problems at all, but for others, breastfeeding gets impossible after areola reduction;
  • women wanting areola or nipple reduction just need to know that breastfeeding problems may occur in the future;
  • scarring – for areola reduction, the incision is made around the new areola. Naturally, the areola reduction scar fades over time, it becomes almost invisible, however sometimes the scar healing is disturbed and the areola reduction scars heal very badly – they are thick, visible, discoloured. So, it is very important that patients take proper care of the incisions and scars, it helps avoid this complication;
  • changes in sensation – some patients experience temporary loss of sensation around the nipple / areola; or the sensation may change, and the areola area may become much less sensitive. In other patients, the loss of sensation can be permanent, it is rare, yet sometimes the nerves may get damaged during the surgery. Here, the skilled and experienced surgeon is able to do the surgery without damaging the nerves.
breastfeeding

Potential complication after surgery is inability of breastfeeding.

Non surgical ways to reduce areola size

To put it simply, there are no effective non surgical ways to reduce areola size. The only method of areola reduction is through the surgery. Patients may come across various areola reduction non surgical techniques, e.g. laser areola reduction, but it is just impossible to reduce areola naturally or make areola reduction without surgery, so patients must be careful as for such offers.

However, the non-surgical techniques may help with scarring after areola reduction. We would like to mention two of them:

  • medical microneedling – it addresses very deep skin layers, breaks down the old scar tissues and stimulates the production of collagen and melanin;
  • medical tattooing – it can be only used for a healed scar and is often recommended after microneedling; it can help for prominent scars or any asymmetry, and can greatly improve the look of the areola.

Again, we would like to make everyone cautious about any non-surgical ways of areola reduction. These procedures are not effective. On the contrary, they can be risky and dangerous, after which the areolas look even worse. So, spending money on non-certified, experimental methods of nipple or areola reduction is not recommended, to say the least. Instead, patients should consider surgical solution, e.g. abroad, which is relatively cheap, yet high quality, or just accept the fact of imperfection and unique areola look, as nobody is ideal, and it is normal that we all look differently.

Areola reduction surgery cost

Areola reduction surgery cost depends on a variety of factors, so it is hard to determine one universal areola reduction cost. The factors that influence the price of this plastic surgery are:

  • the location: the areola reduction surgery UK cost varies from city to city (in general, the cost is higher in big cities, like London or Manchester, and is more affordable in smaller towns); areola reduction surgery London is believed to be the most costly in the UK;
  • clinic standard: the prestigious, renowned clinics tend to set higher prices for the surgeries because they guarantee the best quality and service, smaller or new clinics usually lower the surgery costs to compete with others;
  • plastic surgeons: an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon gets higher fee than a young, entry-level doctors, so naturally, the areola reduction cost UK increases when a surgeon is top-class; patients who want to get the surgery done by the best areola reduction surgeon UK must realize the cost will be much higher than average;
  • anaesthesia: areola reduction can be performed under local or general anaesthesia; of course, general anaesthesia requires more preparation, anaesthesiologist care, additional medical tests, so areola reduction surgery cost UK is higher when general anaesthesia is used; if patients are not panicked and are healthy in general, they can get this procedure done under local anaesthesia, their cost will be lowered then.

How much is areola reduction surgery UK? Well, taking into consideration the factors above, the price of areola reduction UK varies from 2300 GBP to 5500 GBP. So, the average cost is roughly 3500 GBP.

girl with money around

The price of areola reduction UK varies from 2300 GBP to 5500 GBP.

 

Areola reduction surgery NHS

Here we do not have good news, areola reduction surgery NHS is not performed. In the vast majority of cases, the reason for areola reduction surgery is purely cosmetic and aesthetic, which in fact has nothing in common with health problems. NHS refrains from covering procedures which do not save life or health, but are done to improve the patient’s look. So, areola reduction NHS as an individual procedure is not practised. However, there is a slight chance of getting areola reduction surgery UK NHS. NHS can fund the surgery for proven psychological or/and health reasons, so e.g. when women need breast reduction (which is often medically recommended), they might also need areola reduction as well – then, this procedure can be covered by the NHS.

Areola reduction surgery abroad

We realize that areola reduction procedure may be quite costly, and it is not funded by the NHS, so many men and women just cannot afford it. Yet, there is an alternative, namely getting areola reduction plastic surgery abroad. Thanks to the development and advancement of medical tourism industry, patients have a chance of undergoing affordable and high-standard treatment abroad.

There are countries which offer very affordable prices for areola reduction, but it does not mean that the quality of the procedure is worse there. The low cost is determined by the local economy, cost of living, and currency used. So, patients coming from other countries can afford the best clinics in a given country and the most experienced surgeons. It’s a great privilege and opportunity, so it’s really worth trying this solution. Countries which offer the most competitive plastic surgery abroad prices include e.g.:

  • America: Mexico and Brazil;
  • Europe: Poland, Turkey, Czech Republic, Lithuania;
  • Asia: India, Thailand.

Regarding Europe, Poland and Turkey are two countries which are the most popular among medical tourists. Patients who look for the surgery abroad are coming mainly from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Finally, we need to mention that countries serving international patients offer plastic surgery abroad packages where patients book the surgery, accommodation and transfers as a one package – it makes the whole trip easy, comfortable and secured. Patients admit that thanks to going to Turkey or Poland, they can save up to 60% of the money.

Areola reduction Poland

Plastic surgery Poland is a leading destination for patients coming from American and European countries (especially from the UK, Sweden, Germany, the US, Ireland and Norway). Areola reduction surgery Poland is said to be high-standard and very professional mainly thanks to Polish plastic surgeons who are considered world-class authorities. Polish clinics follow all the advanced solutions – they use new technology and the most modern equipment. At the same time, plastic surgery in Poland prices are very competitive on the international market.

Why is it worth coming to Poland? The advantages of this medical tourism destination include the following:

  • private clinics and hospitals are very experienced in treating international patients; medical tourism in Poland has been flourishing for years;
  • the policy and service of clinics is adjusted to international patients and their specific needs and limitations (e.g. clinics offer online consultations or respect strict times of stay in Poland);
  • plastic surgeons in Poland are great specialists – skilled, well-trained and highly qualified; in general, the education process is long and tough, so only devoted and talented people become plastic surgeons there;
  • the cost of medical treatment is highly competitive;
  • there are no language or communication barriers, people speak English well, many clinics hire also staff speaking German, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish;
  • Poland is central-European country, so getting there by plane is fast, cheap and easy; the flight connection is very well-developed;
  • in terms of tourism, Poland is an attractive region with many touristic spots, interesting and unique cities, one-of-a-kind tradition and culture, and diversified lie of the land (with the Sea, mountains, numerous lakes, forests, etc);
  • international patients can get all inclusive surgery packages and free help in organising the travel and surgery;
  • there is a great option of getting medical travel insurance dedicated specifically to medical tourists.
castle in Poland

Plastic surgery prices in Poland are very competitive on the international market.

Areola reduction Turkey

Plastic surgery Turkey is particularly popular among Asians, Europeans and Americans. In fact, Turkey is one of the leading medical tourism destinations in the whole world. It is also a very popular holiday destination for tourists and favoured holiday resort which gathers millions of international tourists every year. So, the most popular option for medical tourists is combining the surgery with all inclusive summer or winter holidays.

Turkey prides itself on offering a complex service for medical tourists – both clinics and medical tourism facilitators offer their free help in organising the plastic surgery Turkey (Istanbul), Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, and any other cities), choosing the right plastic surgeon, finding the most convenient location, and booking the flights and accommodation – thanks to that, patients do not need to worry about anything, they do not need to take care of any logistics. Regarding the language barriers, nowadays most surgeons in Turkey (especially working in international hospitals) speak English fluently, but if they don’t, clinics always provide the interpreter so that the communication goes smoothly.

Finally, plastic surgery Turkey prices stand for the greatest advantage of this country. The cost of areola reduction in Turkey is one of the lowest in the world, being roughly 700 GBP. It is hard to believe that the cost of this surgery can be as low, yet that’s true in Turkey. What is more, the cost in Turkey often includes the whole all inclusive package covering the accommodation, airport transfers and local transportation. The deals in Turkey are great in terms of price and individual approach.

Turkey

The deals in Turkey are great in terms of price and individual approach.

Before and after areola reduction

Summary

Areola reduction procedure is a cosmetic surgery dedicated to men and women. By reducing the size of nipples / areolas, it restores the attractive look and mental comfort for patients. This surgery is usually done for purely cosmetic reasons as too large areolas pose no danger to our health.

Patients who want to get the procedure need to do it in private clinics, so the cost may be high. Yet, the great alternative is going abroad, e.g. to Poland or Turkey and pay 2-3 times less for the surgery and travel package. Poland and Turkey offer very high standard of medical care, and they are highly competitive on the international medical tourism market.

If you consider getting areola reduction abroad or need more information, contact Clinic Hunter. Our team will help you organise the medical trip and answer all your questions.

woman handing her breast

If you consider getting areola reduction abroad, contact Clinic Hunter! We will help you organise the medical trip!

Sources

  • “Areola Reduction Overview: Cost, Recovery, before & after: AEDIT.” Aedit.com | Aesthetic Edit, AEDIT, 18 Feb. 2022, https://aedit.com/procedure/areola-reduction.
    Ellis, Chandra V., and Alex Kim. “An Easy and Reliable Approach to Nipple Reduction.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 132, 2013, p. 65., https://doi.org/10.1097/01.prs.0000435933.34577.98.
  • Mugea, Toma T., and Andrei Miron Martin. “Gigantomastia Reduction: Inferior Pedicle versus Free Nipple Areola Graft.” Aesthetic Surgery of the Breast, 2014, pp. 905–933., https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-43407-9_53.
  • Osborn, Corinne O’Keefe. “Areola Reduction Surgery: Technique, Risks, Recovery, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 May 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/areola-reduction.
  • “Regional Dimensions of Medical Tourism.” Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility, pp. 205–206., https://doi.org/10.4337/9781783471195.00030.
  • Trøstrup, Hannah, et al. “Current Surgical Techniques for Nipple Reduction: A Literature Review.” JPRAS Open, vol. 21, 2019, pp. 48–55., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpra.2019.06.002.
Klaudia Grabowska

Klaudia started to work for Clinic Hunter many years ago, just after graduating from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland and since that time, this job has become her biggest passion and inspiration.

She has gained necessary expertise and experience by serving patients from all over the world (mainly the UK, Scandinavian countries, and the USA), taking an active part in numerous live and video trainings with clinics in Poland, Hungary and Turkey, participating in international medical tourism conferences and events, and completing internal Clinic Hunter courses. Now, Klaudia is an accomplished patient advisor specialising in such fields as dentistry, plastic and bariatric surgery and hair loss treatment. Her main idea is helping people nad making their lives better, that is why this job brings her so much satisfaction and joy.

In private, Klaudia is a bike-tour lover. She travelled to over 25 countries and many of them she visited by bike. However, now she spends every spare moment with her little son.

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