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What is Nipple Reduction Surgery?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Reduction Plastic Surgery Breast Plastic

Sex and the City's Samantha may have placed fake nipples inside her bra to give herself that “overly excited” look, but some of us aren't that happy about the way our nips peep out from underneath our tops. If your nipples protrude too much or are too flat, or if you feel your areola is too big, you may be considering nipple reduction or correction surgery. If so, read on...

What Makes a Big Nipple?

Often, enlarged or extended nipples are that way either because of a congenital reason, or due to breastfeeding. A nipple reduction reduces the size of the areola, while a nipple correction makes a protracted nipple shorter or an inverted nipple stick out more.

Please note that while they can be cause for distress, inverted nipples are incredibly common, either congenital or a result of breastfeeding, when scar tissue forms on the breast. Keep in mind, however, that while it is also very common to have either one or both of your nipples inverted, if one suddenly becomes inverted for no seemingly apparent reason, see your doctor straightaway.

What Do the Surgeries Entail?

Nipple correction surgery, despite not being for the squeamish, is a relatively straightforward procedure, done under local or general anaesthetic. The protruding nipple is then cut and made shorter. Did you know that a woman's average nipple length is from 5 to 10 mm, considerably more when sexually aroused or breastfeeding?

Nipple reduction surgery is a bit different. An incision is made on the nipple itself, and it's then cut down to size. The operation takes only an hour and the patient can be in and out of the clinic on the same day. Often large areolas accompany sagging breasts, and you may want a breast uplift at the same time. Consult with your surgeon beforehand.

With surgery for inverted nipples, a small cut is made in the areola's base, then the nipple and underlying tissue are raised and stitched into a protruded position. Many women have this op in order to breastfeed, and the milk ducts are preserved. But as with any surgical procedure, there is no 100 percent guarantee this will be the case, so weigh up the pros and cons beforehand.

Can I Breastfeed After a Nipple Reduction or Correction Surgery?

With an areola reduction, yes. In the vast majority of cases, the ability to both breastfeed a child and maintain sensation in the nipples will be maintained. However, if you are having a nipple correction you should be sure to tell your surgeon that you plan to breastfeed, so that the crucial parts of the milk duct will be left intact.

What About the Recovery Period?

With either operation, you are advised not to do anything to strenuous for at least a week, and will have to wear breast dressing for up to two weeks. Follow-up check-ups are necessary, during which the dressings will be cleaned and probably replaced, and the progress of the operation examined. You will have scars for several months at least, after which they should fade. This is one type of plastic surgery procedure that the vast majority of patients do not regret having done.

And Are There Any Risks?

Bruising, swelling and scars are common afterwards. Some women will lose the ability to breastfeed despite the surgeon's best intentions, and others will lose sensation in their nipples. As with any op, there is a risk of bleeding and infection. Be sure that your surgeon is Board-certified or a member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and think carefully before embarking on any cosmetic procedure. Make sure the pros outweigh the cons!

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