Although they cover a small portion of total breast area, nipples and areolas are critical to overall breast form and function. If your nipples are completely inverted, for instance, you may not be able to breastfeed. If your areolas are puffy and unsightly, you may feel embarrassed about your body to the point of avoiding intimate situations. Fortunately, correcting nipple and areola problems requires a simple, outpatient procedure that normally involves very low risk and yields a high level of satisfaction.
What many women think of as “the nipple” is actually made of two parts: the nipple and the areola. The nipple is the projected part and the areola is the dark pigmented skin that surrounds the nipple. This page discusses the reduction of puffy areolas. You can also read about reduction procedures for the Nipple or Areola.
Surgical Reduction of Puffy Areolas
Puffy areolas are areolas that puff out when in a relaxed state. While this deformity can appear without any other deformities, puffy areolas are also commonly seen with tubular breast deformity and in men who aggressively weight train. Procedures for “flattening out” puffy areolas are similar to those that reduce enlarged nipples.
Puffy areolar reduction is done by removing some of the pigmented areola, either by an incision around the outside of the areola or by an incision around the base of the nipple, depending on the degree of puffiness. Once the incision is made, a small portion of the areola is removed and the areola skin is lifted, reducing the puffiness. Dissolving sutures are placed underneath the skin – these minimize scarring as well as eliminate the need to come back into the office for a “painful suture removal day.”
Recovery time will depend on the patient, but most patients can return to work and resume their normal activity within a day or two
This treatment does not normally affect the ability to breastfeed. Some women are unable to breastfeed even without surgery. For more information, please see the La Leche League web site.