Nipple Reduction is a surgical procedure that is designed to reduce the prominence, size and shape of your nipples. This minor surgery can create a dramatic improvement in breast appearance, and it's one of many rising cosmetic surgery trends.

Everyone has nipples and areolas that come in all different shapes and sizes, and people (intentionally or unintentionally) use many different insensitive terms to describe them, such as pancake or pepperoni nipples, quarters and dinner plates that may push a person to make a change. In terms of size and shape, there’s a vast range that is defined as natural and completely “normal”.

Nipple Reduction Overview

Nipple reduction can drastically improve the look of large, disproportionate nipples and surrounding areolas. Issues such as color variation and large bumps on the areola can be corrected, and the appearance of large nipples can be reduced through this simple procedure.

During surgery, the areola and nipple area can be made smaller and more attractive without compromise to the sensitivity of the breast. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia, and only takes one hour or less to complete with minimal downtime.

Nipple reduction surgery involves an incision in the nipples, and for areola reduction, the incisions are placed around the perimeter of the areola. The surgeon then removes a precise amount of tissue, and then reshapes the nipples. Afterwards, the area is carefully closed with tiny sutures. During surgery, the small incision made to reduce the nipple size also defines the new perimeter of the area. Nipple asymmetry is usually corrected as well. In regards to areola reduction, the outer circumference of the desired areola is marked, and then the skin between the two circles is removed and stitches are placed.

It is often performed in combination with other breast enhancement procedures, such as breast augmentation, breast lift and breast reduction. (Learn more in "Your Guide to Breast Reduction Surgery".) Nipple reduction achieves long-lasting results with a more appealing and youthful appearance.

When to Consider Nipple Reduction Surgery

Both men and women who are unhappy with their nipples' appearance, whether they're droopy, large, long or puffy, choose to undergo nipple reduction surgery to achieve more symmetrical and beautiful breasts (women), or a masculine-looking chest and appearance (men.)

What determines the size of someone’s nipples/areola?

Genetics have the biggest role in determining the size, appearance and color of our nipple areas. Our genetic makeup means that each of us have nipples of varying shapes and sizes. But then there are a few other factors that can change the overall appearance, such as the decrease/loss of skin elasticity caused by natural aging, pregnancy and breastfeeding, weight gain and fluctuation, and breast augmentation.

Why are more women undergoing nipple reduction surgery?

Not everyone is satisfied with the size of their nipples. An appropriate nipple size is relative to how a woman views her overall breast image. Large areolas can make breasts look less youthful, while smaller and symmetric areolas can help the overall appearance of both breasts. Because nipples and areolas can change in shape, size and color with age, genetics, weight changes, pregnancies and cosmetic breast surgery, many women seek out to alter these types of changes. (Learn more in "How to Choose the Best Breast Implant Size and Shape for Your Body Type".)

Are You a Good Candidate for Nipple Reduction?

Some of the reasons men and women undergo nipple and/or areola reduction is when the nipples are overly large and out of proportion to their breasts/pecs, or if there's irregularity or asymmetry between nipples.

The goal of nipple reduction surgery is to correct disproportionately large nipples and/or areolas to achieve attractive, aesthetically balanced breasts. It can improve the shape of both nipples as well as the surrounding areolas. Both men and women looking to create symmetrical, attractive nipples can undergo nipple reduction surgery. Men usually combine this with gynecomastia, also known as male breast reduction surgery.

Your Initial Consultation Appointment

A surgical plan is usually designed for each patient during the consultation phase where the breasts are evaluated and you discuss what you hope to achieve from the procedure. After your consultation, more information is given to you, such as payment options, financing, pre-op details and a simple overview.

How Do I Prepare for Nipple Reduction Surgery?

In preparing for your surgery, whether you are just undergoing nipple reduction or a combination of procedures, a medical clearance is usually mandatory. This generally includes blood work, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and other tests deemed necessary by the surgeon. There will be plenty of informational forms given to you, which should include a list of medications that you need to stop taking before surgery, such as aspirin and any anti-inflammatory drugs.

It's very important to quit smoking cigarettes or anything that contains nicotine. The surgeon will give you prescription medications (e.g. antibiotic, pain killer, etc.) to take before and after surgery. During the pre-operative appointment, you will be instructed on how and when to take these medications.

Aftercare and Recovery from a Nipple Reduction Procedure

After your surgery, you'll wear a surgical bra and/or bandages to protect the area while it heals. There’s usually a short period of minimal swelling and sometimes bruising after surgery. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions given by your surgeon to achieve the best results possible.

The following describes the healing process after nipple reduction surgery:

  • There’s usually bruising after surgery, which lasts around two weeks.
  • The breasts area may feel numb as a result of swelling, which takes around six weeks to resolve.
  • In the beginning of the recovery stage, breasts may appear uneven but will gradually even out.
  • Some may experience a tingling sensation in or around the nipple area. It will take about six weeks for this feeling to go away.
  • The sutures are taken out about a week after surgery.
  • The first week after surgery, you will need to sleep on your back. It is also highly recommended to also have the upper body elevated on a few pillows.
  • Nipple and areola reduction procedures are minor, so you may return to work a day or few days after surgery.
  • Exercise regimens and strenuous activities are fine to get back into or participate in around 2-3 weeks after surgery.
  • Protect your breasts from any sun exposure for about a year after surgery.

Surgery recovery requires about two weeks. In the beginning stages, you may experience some discomfort, but you'll be prescribed pain medication to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Typically, the medication(s) are only needed for the first few days.