I am looking to have areola reduction surgery and I don't want to leave with horrible bullseye scars around my nipples. I am looking for the best plastic surgeon who specializes in this procedure. Does anyone know of a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is the top in this field?
Who is the Best Plastic Surgeon to Perform Areola Reduction Surgery?
Doctor Answers (6)
Best Plastic Surgeon for Areola Reduction
First of all, a couple of definitions: the areola is the pigmented skin that surrounds the nipple. Most surgeons pronounce this uh-REE-oh-la, but are-ee-OH-la is also used. Areolar skin has not only a different color but usually a different texture compared to the surrounding breasts skin, and both features help to conceal scars placed at the areolar border. The term nipple refers to the projecting tissue at the center of the center of the areola, which contains the openings of the lactiferous (milk) ducts. These two structures comprise what plastic surgeons refer to as the 'nipple / areola complex'.
A youthful, aesthetically ideal breast has an areolar diameter of about 38-42mm (about one and a half inches). Some breasts have large areolas from the time that they develop during puberty, and some enlarge later in life with pregnancy and lactation. A large areola tends to make a breast look 'matronly' even if it is not droopy. Areolar diameter can definitely be reduced, and this can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or as part of larger cosmetic breast procedure such as a lift, reduction or augmentation.
The surgical technique involves removing the excess areolar skin, in the form of a donut-shaped skin excision. A circular incision is made around the areola at the desired diameter of about 40mm, then a second circular incision is made at the outer border of the large areola. The epidermis is shaved off between the two incisions, leaving the dermis behind. A 'purse-string' suture is then placed in the dermis at the outer incision that allows the surgeon to reduce the outer diameter to 42-44mm by cinching together the two ends of the suture. The suture acts as a drawstring to reduce the outer diameter, and allows closure of the areola with reduced tension on the healing incision.
The purse-string suture is critical for maintaining areolar shape and size. Without the purse-string suture, areolas will almost always enlarge over time. When that suture is tied, the skin of the outer portion of the areola is gathered somewhat, as the circumference of the outer incision is much larger than that of the inner incision. The gathered or 'pleated' appearance of the outer margin of the areola gradually flattens out over time; this generally take a few months.
Occasionally I see a patient purely for areolar reduction, but the majority of patients I see have their areolas reduced as part of a mastopexy (breast lift), augmentation mastopexy (breast lift plus implant placement), or breast reduction procedure. The circumareolar scar (scar all the way around the areola) usually heals very well and is camouflaged by the color difference between areolar skin and breast skin, but if you are going to have a scar around the areola you might as well do something to improve breast shape and/or size at the same time. Keep in mind however that most breast lift and reduction procedures require a vertical scar from the bottom of the areola to the inframammary fold (crease below the breast), and in some cases a scar in the inframammary fold as well.
A word of caution: many surgeons perform what they call a 'circumareolar' (or 'donut' or 'Benelli' ) mastopexy. In my opinion there is absolutely no such thing as a 'circumareolar mastopexy'. Removing skin around the areola may enable a surgeon to elevate the position of the nipple/areola complex perhaps 1-2 cm on the breast mound, but it DOES NOT lift the breast itself. In most cases, unfortunately, it serves to distort the shape of the breasts, making them appear flattened at the top. If the breast needs to be lifted, it absolutely requires some internal rearrangement of breast tissue to create a projecting, aesthetically ideal and lasting result - which in turn requires that vertical incision and vertical surgical scar below the areola (and sometimes in the inframammary fold as well.
Areolar reduction surgeons
Yes, you may be a good candidate for areola reduction. Fortunately, this is a procedure that can often be done under local or general anesthesia.
You are wise to consider the scar that will result, around the areola. The appearance of the scar may range from a fine line to a wide/thick/raise scar (that may require scar revision surgery).
You should also consider other unfavorable sequelae resulting from this procedure. This may include asymmetric areola, loss or change of sensation, wound healing problems (possibly suture related), recurrence of the “spreading of the areola” and potential changing/flattening of the breasts' profiles.
Please make sure you're working with a well experienced/board-certified plastic surgeon.
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Areola reduction surgery
The average diameter of the areola should be approximately 4.0 centimeters. If the areola is larger than this, it can be reduced using a procedure that is essentially like a donut (aka, peri-areolar or Benelli) mastopexy (breast lift) procedure. This involves marking an areola on the patient that is 4.0 centimeters in diameter and then marking another circle around the very outer edge of the patient's areola. The skin (excess areola tissue) between these two marks is then removed and the skin edges are closed. There are different techniques for closing the gap between these two circles, however, most of them involve the use of a permanent, "purse-string" stitch which helps take the tension off of the closure and may lead to a better scar. Still, the resulting scar from this type of surgery extends completely around the areola.
Contact a reputable, board certified plastic surgeon in your area. If you do not know the names of any reputable, board certified plastic surgeons contact your OBGYN or primary care physician for a referral. Your OBGYN and PCP see the results of plastic surgery within their fields. Upon consultation, ask the surgeon to see some examples of her/his work. Keep in mind that your results will be based on your skin tone and texture. Best of luck!
Areolar reduction surgery
Most board certified plastic surgeons who perform a lot of breast surgery are capable of performing an areolar reduction. The appearance of the scar ultimately depends on your skin tone and the exact shape/color of your areola. I prefer to use an internal Gore-Tex suture which holds a stable shape and prevents the areola from widening. Using silicone topical gel or silicone tape after surgery also helps minimize the appearance of scars.