Areola Reduction Surgery Procedure Cost and Information
Written by Medical Quality Officer, David Jones , MPharm
Medical Review by Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Kuen Yeow Chin , FRCS, MB ChB, MRCSG, MSc
Areola reduction surgery can alter the shape, size and symmetry of the areola. It can be combined with other procedures such as nipple reduction or breast surgery.
30 to 60 mins
Local with sedation or general
6 to 12 weeks
The areolas are the dark, round circles of skin that are found around the nipples, as shown below. Some people may be unhappy with the size and symmetry of their areolas. An areola reduction is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of large or over-stretched areolas.
How much does areola reduction surgery cost?
The price of an areola reduction is typically around £2995. Prices can vary to reflect the specific requirements of each procedure.
During the consultation, every patient has the opportunity to outline what they are hoping to achieve from their procedure. In turn, the surgeon will make some suggestions to ensure the best possible result. The variations may include:
- Surgeon experience
- Anaesthetist experience
- Which hospital or clinic is chosen for the procedure
- The complexity of the individual procedure
- Surgical techniques
- The time required in surgery for each patient’s case
It is during the consultation that these tailored features are decided upon, and therefore it is only after the consultation that a final price can be determined. Once a final price is set, that price is inclusive and transparent. It will cover:
- Hospital costs
- Surgeon and anaesthetist costs
- Aftercare and follow-up appointments
- Overnight stays (if required)
Who is eligible for an areola reduction?
The best areola reduction candidates are patients who wish to decrease the size of their areolas and make them more symmetrical.
The ideal candidate should also be in good health before the surgery; this means following a healthy diet, stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
Finally, the best candidates for an areola reduction will have realistic expectations about what the procedure can achieve. During the free consultation with a BAAPS/ BAPRAS surgeon, it is important to discuss whether certain goals can be achieved.
Male areola reduction
Some men may feel self-conscious about the size or symmetry of their areolas and they may wish to have an areola reduction procedure to reduce the size or correct any asymmetry.
Female areola reduction
Many women are unhappy with the size of their areolas and may have experienced stretching of their areolas after losing a large amount of weight or following pregnancy and breastfeeding.
What to expect from areola reduction surgery?
Before undergoing areola reduction surgery, patients will need to give consent for the procedure. Patients will do this by signing a consent form on the day of or during the consultation before the surgery. On the day of the procedure, the surgeon may draw some lines with a surgical marker on the chest area to plan the surgery, including marking incision sites.
For a simple procedure such as an areolar reduction, patients will usually have a local anaesthetic. This will numb the area so that patients do not feel anything during the procedure. However, sometimes sedation or general anaesthetic may be required. If this is required, you will see an anaesthetist prior to the procedure. The anaesthetist is the doctor who will be administering the anaesthetic drug. The anaesthetist may give patients a sedative drug at the same time as the administration of local anaesthetic to help them feel relaxed. If general anaesthetic is required, this will be discussed prior to the operation. This will put the patient to sleep throughout the entire operation, but bear in mind this type of anaesthetic generally carries more risks.
The patient will move to the operating theatre, where the surgeon will prepare them for the operation. The procedure may be performed under local anaesthetic with sedation or general anaesthetic. The team will begin by cleaning the treatment area and draping over a sterile sheet. The surgeon will then start the surgery using the skin markings as a guide for the incisions and other required procedures.
Usually, the surgeon will make an incision around the new desired areolar, and make an incision around where the old areola and the skin meet. The thin layer of the areolar is removed, and the skin and new areolar position are stitched together (as shown below). However, modifications of this technique may be required depending on individual patients.
Closing of incisions
The surgeon will use stitches to secure the areola into its new position and close the incision. The surgeon may use absorbable and/or non-absorbable sutures. Some surgeons may also use glue to support the wound. They will then apply a light dressing to help protect the treated area.
Return to the ward
Once the surgeon has completed the procedure, patients will move to a recovery room. Over the next few hours, the anaesthetic will gradually wear off. The nurses on the ward will ensure the patient is comfortable and at ease.
What to expect from an areola reduction consultation?
If patients are considering an areola reduction and think this is the right procedure, the first step is to have an initial consultation. This is the time for patients to meet with a surgeon to talk through what the operation involves. This will take approximately 15- 30 minutes.
During the consultation, patients should discuss with the surgeon what they want to change about their areolas or breasts. Patients should be as clear and open as possible about their concerns and expectations so that the surgeon understands exactly what it is the patient wants to achieve. The surgeon will then carry out an examination of the areolas, nipples, and breasts. They will consider the patient’s goals and advice whether this procedure will give the results you are after. Alternatively, they may suggest a different procedure, if they feel that it is more appropriate and can give you the desired goal.
The surgeon will also talk through the risks and complications of the surgery. They will need to ask the patient some questions to assess suitability for surgery. For example, they may ask:
- Any past surgeries?
- Any medical conditions?
- Any medications, including over-the-counter and herbal remedies in use?
- Alcohol/cigarette/recreational drug use
- Any allergies?
It is important that patients answer these questions honestly and give the surgeon as much information as possible.
Questions to ask during the areola reduction consultation
The areola reduction consultation will also be an opportunity for patients to ask the surgeon about anything they are uncertain of. Patients might find it helpful to write down some questions before the consultation to bring with them. Some things you might want to ask may include:
- Is an areola reduction appropriate for what I wish to change?
- Do you have any before and after pictures of previous areola reduction surgeries?
- Where will the scars be, and how small/big will they look?
- How long is the recovery period?
- How much time do I need to take off work after the surgery?
- Will my areola be sore after surgery?
- How soon until I can see the final results?
The surgeon will answer the questions to the best of their ability. Most surgeons strongly recommend a two week “cooling off period” between the consultation and having a procedure. This is to ensure that patients have had time to think everything through and know that this is the right choice for them at this time.
Risks & Complications
What are the main areola reduction risks and complications?
Some general risks and complications that can occur in any surgical procedure include:
- Post-operative nausea and vomiting
- Development of a blood clot in the leg or lungs
- An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
- Post-operative pain
Bruising and bleeding
Most people will experience some bruising or bleeding after surgery. Bruising around the treatment area is common and can take up to two weeks to fade completely. It is also normal to see some minor bleeding in the dressing right after the surgery. If, however, the wound bleeds more than normal, patients may be required to stay in the hospital until this settles. However, most patients will be home the same day as their procedure. Patients should let the surgeon know if they notice any blood coming from their wounds.
There is a risk of wound infection after surgery. However, the risk of this in areolar reduction surgery is quite small. If it does occur, the majority will resolve with antibiotic treatment. Rarely, if the infection has spread further, patients may require a further operation. The signs of infection patients should be aware of are the following:
- Temperature over 38° C.
- Redness at the incision line that is spreading away from the incision after 48 hours.
- Yellow pus-like or foul-smelling fluid seeping from the incision.
- Increased pain or discomfort of the treated area that pain medication does not resolve.
Let the surgeon know immediately if any of these signs show so that the infection can be treated promptly.
Scarring is to be expected with any surgical procedure. The surgeon will advise the patient regarding the size and location of the scar they can expect. Areola reduction procedure usually places the scar around the areolar which will fade with time as the scar matures. The placement of the scar in the new areolar and skin junction makes it less obvious after scar maturation.
Numbness or loss of sensation
It is possible that patients may notice a change in the sensation of the areola. This can include numbness, tingling, or pain. Usually, this change in sensation is only temporary. However, on rare occasions, it is possible for the permanent loss of sensation to occur.
Inability to breastfeed
Though unlikely, there is a small chance an areola reduction procedure may affect the ability to breastfeed. Patients must talk to their surgeon if have plans to breastfeed in the future. The surgeon may advise waiting until patients complete their family before undergoing an areola reduction if patients have a desire to breastfeed. It is important to note that some patients are not successful in breastfeeding even though they have not had any breast surgery.
There is always a possibility that patients are unhappy with the results of the surgery. This may be due to asymmetry or scarring. This is not always caused by a surgeon’s lack of skill or expertise. Some irregularities in scarring or discolouration may occur according to the patient’s skin type and genetics. Furthermore, pregnancy, significant weight changes and ageing, can change the skin quality and affect the shape and size of the areola.
How to prepare for an areola reduction?
Although an areola reduction is a relatively simple and short procedure, it is still important to be prepared for the surgery. Remember, even small changes in your lifestyle can make a dramatic difference in the way patients heal and recover from an operation. Make sure that in the weeks before surgery, to stop smoking, maintain a healthy diet and get some exercise when possible. Here are some tips on how to prepare for surgery:
To make life easier when returning home after surgery, it’s a good idea to either complete some household tasks beforehand or allocate these to another household member. For example, patients may wish to give the house a clean. It is also a good idea to take the rubbish out so patients can avoid having to lift heavy, full bin bags right after the operation.
It's recommended that patients do a big food shop a day or two before the operation and stock up on groceries that they will need for the week after surgery. This will mean that patients do not need to make a trip to the supermarket in the early days after the surgery, when they may not feel up to leaving the house.
Young children and pets
If patients have children or pets, they may wish to ask a friend, relative or babysitter to look after them during the recovery period. After surgery, patients may lack their usual energy, so doing this will take some pressure off. This will also allow patients to fully relax so that they can rest and recover properly.
Should the procedure be done under a general anaesthetic, the effects may leave patients feeling tired and groggy in the hours after the surgery. Therefore for patient safety, they will not be allowed to drive for 24 hours. Arranging for a friend or family member to pick them up at the hospital after the surgery so that they can drive home is a good idea. Depending on how patients feel, they may wish to have them stay over for at least the first night. This is especially important if there is no one else at home. Having a familiar face after an operation will make patients feel more at ease.
A healthy diet is a very important part of preparing for any type of surgery. Eating a balanced diet in the weeks before will allow the body to be in a better state for a surgical procedure. Eat lots of nutritious fruit and vegetables, as well as foods high in protein such as chicken, fish or tofu. Keep the intake of caffeine and sugary or salty foods to a minimum, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
After the procedure, it is best to wear loose items of clothing. This is so that the clothing does not rub against the treatment area, which may at first feel slightly sore. Therefore, before the day of the surgery, be sure that there is enough appropriate clothing ready for the recovery period.
In the week leading up to surgery, try and make time to get enough sleep every night. Sufficient rest is crucial for allowing the body to prepare for a surgical procedure. Also, make sure that there are enough pillows prepared for after the surgery. Resting on these in an elevated position can help to reduce any swelling around the treated area.
Whilst these areola reduction preparation tips should help you feel more ready for surgery, patients should always follow their surgeon’s specific preparation instructions.
Review your pre-operative instructions
Before the operation, clear instructions including which medication you must stop and fasting instructions will be given to you. It is vital to follow them.
Confirm your transportation and after-care plans
It is essential you have someone to both take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.
Pack your bag.
- Consider bringing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, toiletries, paperwork and anything you feel you need for after your surgery.
- Try to limit bringing valuables.
- Wear comfortable clothing and do not wear jewellery
- Each location has their own guidance, but typically patients will not be able to wear make-up, acrylic nails, contact lenses or body piercings.
What to expect after an areola reduction?
There are certain aspects of areola reduction aftercare that patients will need to follow to ensure that the surgical area heals well. This includes taking time off work, avoiding strenuous exercise, and washing and caring for the wounds properly. Below, there are some general hints and tips; however, the surgeon will give specific advice and further information that patients should follow.
Waking up after surgery
After the surgery, wounds will be covered with dressings. These will stay in place for a couple of days before being removed. The treatment area may at first feel slightly tender and sore. Patients might also notice some minor swelling or bruising around the area. The surgeon may suggest that patients take painkillers to ease any discomfort and reduce any swelling. As an areola reduction is a minor procedure, patients will usually be able to return home on the same day. Patients may also feel tired and groggy from this anaesthetic.
The first 24 hours
It is good to have another adult stay with the patient for at least 24 hours after the surgery. Particularly if they have had a general anaesthetic, patients may feel tired or dizzy, so it is best to have someone around. Having a friend or relative stay with the patients whilst they recover will also mean that they can help with certain tasks like cooking or cleaning.
Bathing and showering
To promote good healing, keep your incisions clean and dry, and inspect them regularly. Your surgeon will advise you on when you can shower and bathe again after your surgery. The usual advice is to sponge bath only for the first 48-72 hours after surgery. When you start showering again and your incisions are undressed, wash them gently with soap and water. Leave the white tape (steri strips) in place. They are waterproof and should not come off in the shower.
Ask your surgeon when you can use:
- Swimming pools
Do not remove any dressings unless instructed by your surgeon - these will be removed within 1 week at your post-operative appointment.
Time off work
The length of time patients should take off work after the surgery will depend on the type of job the patient has. If the work is active and requires patients to be on their feet, it is advised that they take at least one week off. However, it may only be necessary to take a few days off if they have an office job. The surgeon will give a specific time frame that patients should follow.
Exercise and sport
Immediately after the surgery, it is important that patients fully rest to allow their body to heal. Strenuous physical activity, particularly in the first week, can increase swelling and affect recovery. Patients can gradually start resuming physical activities after a couple of weeks. Start off with some light walking, then gradually resume sports that do not require vigorous movements, like cycling. After four to six weeks, patients should be fine to get back to their usual fitness regime.
Swelling & bruising
Some swelling around the areola may occur after the areola reduction surgery. Patients may also notice some mild bruising around the area. This is common and should generally begin to settle after three to five days. For the first few weeks, avoid activities that may increase swelling, such as vigorous exercise, lifting heavy objects, or using saunas and hot tubs. Try not to touch the treated area too much, and sleep on your back rather than your front to avoid compressing the areola.
Patients will have scarring as described above following an areola reduction surgery. For the first few weeks, any scars may appear raised. Over time they will fade to faint lines that will be discreet. Taking care of the scars by moisturising and protecting them from sun exposure can help with the healing process.
The final results
Patients will most likely see a noticeable difference in their areola immediately after the surgery. However, it is important to be patient as it can take up to six months for the scar to mature to appreciate the full cosmetic results. After the operation, the surgeon will cover the treated area with a protective bandage or dressing to support the areola. The surgeon will tell patients how long this needs to be kept on.
Listening and adhering to the surgeon’s post-operative advice is essential in order for patients to achieve the best results from the surgery. A follow-up appointment within a couple of weeks will be organised as part of the areola reduction aftercare. The surgeon will check the wounds to ensure they are healing well and will remove any stitches if necessary.
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All of the information found on our website is sourced from highly reputable experts, and government-approved authorities and is widely used by healthcare professionals.
- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/breast-reduction-female/ NHS
- https://baaps.org.uk/patients/procedures/5/breast_uplift_mastopexy British Association of Aesthetic, Plastic Surgeons
- https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/breast-reduction/procedure American Society of Plastic Surgeons