Common Questions about Breast Surgery and Nipples

Nipples are an important consideration in any breast surgery. Dr. Dennis Bucko, a trusted breast surgeon in San Diego, is often asked how breast augmentation, breast reduction or breast lift will change the nipples (if at all!). Here, Dr. Bucko has compiled the most common questions he receives about breast surgery and nipples.

Correcting the Lingo

Before delving into the questions, it’s important to get the terminology right.  

When most women say “nipple,” they actually are referring to the nipple-areolar complex (NAC), which comprises both the nipple and the areola. The nipple is the small projection where milk comes out when breastfeeding. The areola is the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple.

While it is possible for women contemplating breast surgery to be bothered by their nipples — for example, nipples that point in different directions or inverted nipples — it is more common for a woman to feel bothered by her areolas. They may be too big, too wide, too long or abnormally shaped.

Dr. Bucko is used to correcting all of these issues at the time of breast surgery.

“Will My Nipples Get Bigger after Breast Augmentation?”

Placing breast implants does not significantly change the NAC. The NAC may stretch and look slightly fuller after the breasts have healed from surgery, but it rarely increases in proportion to the size of the breast implant.

“Will My Nipples Change Position after Breast Augmentation?”

Breast augmentation does not change the nipple or areola’s positioning, or lift the NAC. If one nipple points to the left or one areola sits a little lower than the other before surgery, they will remain that way after surgery. The only exception is if Dr. Bucko makes deliberate changes to the NAC during breast augmentation. 

“Can My Large Nipples Be Reduced?”

Dr. Bucko can reduce oversized nipples and/or areolas during breast surgery. Breast lift and breast reduction procedures usually involve repositioning the NAC higher on the breast and reducing its size.

To accomplish this, Dr. Bucko creates an incision around the circumference of the areola and removes some of the areolar skin. Then, he uses sutures to fix the skin tighter around the areola. This narrows the diameter of the NAC.

Since this requires an incision around the edge of the areola, there is some scarring after surgery. However, the scars tend to fade and blend in with the natural border of the areola quite nicely.

“My Nipples Look Inverted. Can This Be Fixed?”

In roughly 1 out of 10 women, the breast tissue becomes tethered to the inside of the nipple skin, pulling it inward and creating the appearance of a slit-like depression or hole. Correcting inverted nipples is straightforward and involves dividing the tethering with a simple incision. This can be accomplished during a short, in-office procedure or with other breast surgery. This procedure may decrease nipple sensitivity or the ability to breast feed.

Consult with Our Breast Surgeon

If you have additional questions about an aspect of breast surgery, Dr. Bucko is all ears. Call or email our practice today to schedule an informational consultation with the doctor.