What You Need to Know About Nipple & Breast Reduction
September 15, 2023
A breast reduction can be a life-changing procedure. Plenty of patients seek out this operation because they’ve had trouble with the size of their breasts for a long time. Maybe your breast volume has limited the kinds of activities you can engage in or the kinds of clothing you feel comfortable in. It might be impacting your health in other ways.
Maybe your breast size is causing unwanted side effects concerning your posture, or perhaps it’s resulting in irritation around the breast crease. Whatever the case may be, a breast reduction offers you a chance to intervene with some of the difficulties you may be experiencing.
Because of the dramatic changes that can be achieved with this surgery, many patients wonder about what happens to the nipple and areola after the procedure, or if it’s possible to change their shape and size as well. Let’s dive in to how it all works.
What is Involved in a Breast Reduction?
A breast reduction is as it sounds. It functions to reduce the volume of the breasts. The way this works at our clinic is as follows.
Your surgeon will create a series of incisions during the operation. What you’re left with is a vertical incision along the central bottom half of your breasts. This incision continues along your areola to form, what we like to call, a “lollipop incision” (because the end result looks like, you guessed it, a lollipop). Breast volume is then reduced through the removal of fat through liposuction.
Your surgeon will liposuction the general vicinity of the breast including the areas on the sides of your chest and sometimes even your underarm region. This helps to contour and shape the breasts for a more aesthetically appealing result. When the additional liposuction isn’t performed, sometimes fat will accumulate in the axillary area (under the arm), and around the sides of the breasts.
This might look jarring to some patients because the proportions have been tampered with. If volume is being removed from one area, it’s a good idea to balance the appearance by removing volume in neighbouring areas as well.
How the Nipple and Areola Factor into Breast Reduction
Another procedure that may be included with a breast reduction is an areola reduction or even a nipple reduction/correction. Some patients are surprised to hear that these are two distinct operations. An areola reduction targets the areola, which is the patch of skin that surrounds the nipple. The areola is distinct because of its general hyperpigmentation in comparison to the rest of the breast. The nipple is the smaller raised region encompassed by the areola.
For some patients, the areola takes up a larger surface area of their breasts than they would like, so the skin is excised and sutured back up resulting in a smaller diameter. In terms of nipple procedures, we see patients who want to reduce the height of their nipples or correct an inversion–which can occur for a host of reasons, namely genetic factors and/or breastfeeding.
The positioning of the areola and nipple can also be changed with these procedures. Some patients are displeased with where their areola and nipples sit. The case for a lot of breast reduction patients, in particular, is that their areola lays lower on the breasts and their nipples point downwards.
The great thing about breast reductions, specifically the method of the operation, is that these minor corrections can be made together. Since the lollipop incision surrounds the areola, excess skin can be easily excised and the areola repositioned. In fact, a lot of breast reductions involve areola reduction/repositioning.
Is it the same as a Breast Lift?
We also have patients inquire about some sort of lifting procedure as well. Most times, breasts will sag beneath the pressure of their weight. The great thing about a reduction is that it actually produces a lifted look–again, due to the nature of the procedure. The incision along the bottom of the breast gets sutured back closer than prior to the surgery due to the reduced surface area of skin.
This can be tricky to visualize, so I’ll offer an analogy. Imagine you’re packing for your dream vacation. You have a list of things you need and have them organized out in front of you. You pick up two options for bags, one larger than the other. When you arrange all of your things in the larger backpack, it appears to hang lower on your back. When you move everything into a smaller backpack, you can see that it sits higher on your back–even if you ended up removing some items to fit.
This is similar to the process of a breast reduction. Because volume is being removed, excess skin must also be removed to compensate. The reduction, and sometimes redistribution of volume, creates a ‘perkier’ result–for lack of a better term. This means that breasts look higher than they appeared before.
Breast Reduction as a Transformative Surgery
A breast reduction is a fairly straightforward procedure that doesn’t require too much downtime. After the operation, you’ll be given care instructions to promote healing. Once you’re a little further down the line of your recovery, you’ll be instructed to use scar treatments like silicone gel or strips. It’s important to be aware that the scars will remain, but they can fade significantly if precautions and instructions are followed.
Patients are often thrilled with their breast reduction results and they usually experience a lot of pleasant lifestyle changes following surgery. It’s crucial to assess the value of this procedure for you and explore your options thoroughly.