The nipple areolar complex has an important role in the overall aesthetics of the breast. Plastic surgery for this area encompasses a specialized range of operations to improve the appearance of the nipple and the areola.

Common procedures include:

  • Correction of inverted nipples.
  • Nipple reduction surgery
  • Nipple reconstruction surgery (following mastectomy and as part of breast reconstruction).
  • Areola reduction surgery
  • Correction of nipple areola asymmetry

How common are inverted nipples?

Inverted nipples are actually a relatively common problem and can range in severity from very mild inversion which is often correctable without surgery, to severe cases where the nipple itself may be underdeveloped (hypoplastic).

Most of the time, it is a condition that patients are born with, or develop as a result of normal changes in the breast size or shape. In some cases, inverted nipples may occur following breast feeding, surgery or scarring, or even as part of an underlying disease process such as infection or malignancy.

What treatment options are available for inverted nipples?

It is important that you undergo a full examination and assessment with your doctor, especially if the nipple inversion is a new onset or progressive condition.

  • In general, mild cases of inverted nipples may not require any treatment. In some cases, breast feeding and other simple measures may assist in preventing nipple retraction.
  • In more severe, or persistent cases, surgery may be undertaken to correct the problem. This is most commonly performed as a day procedure and often under local anaesthesia.

Various methods have been described. Dr. Lin prefers a minimally invasive approach which leaves short scars along the edge of the nipple itself within the coloured areolar tissue. This is a reliable method which minimizes the risk of distortion to the areola complex and minimizes the risk of unfavourable scars, and loss of sensation in this area.

What options are available for nipple and areola reduction?

This is another common problem which may be seen in patients with large breasts or in patients following breast feeding.

Reduction or reshaping of the areola is commonly performed in conjunction with a breast reduction or breast lift. Sometimes it is performed independently depending on the patient’s individual requirements.

When performed independently, the operation is often performed as a day case.

What can I expect following nipple and areola surgery?

  • The nipples are dressed with a bulky dressing (nipple shield) which prevents pressure being applied to the area.
  • A comfortable, loose fitting bra may be worn after one week over the nipple shields.
  • Most patients should plan for 1 week off work and 4-6 weeks of avoiding contact sports or heavy lifting.
  • Mr Lin will see you within one week to check on your recovery and the wound healing.
  • A regular schedule of post-operative consultations will be provided by Mr Lin and his staff.

*Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.