Cosmetic surgery to the nipple areolar complex (NAC) includes both nipple and areola reduction. In general, any surgery done on a native NAC can affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed, will leave scars (although often subtle), and can alter the sensitivity and feeling in the NAC.

Your areolas are the pigmented areas surrounding your nipples. Like breasts, areolas vary widely in size, color, and shape. It’s perfectly normal to have large or differently sized areolas. If you’re uncomfortable with the size of your areolas, reduction is possible. Areola reduction surgery is a relatively simple procedure that can reduce the diameter of one or both of your areolas. It can be performed on its own, or together with a breast lift, a breast reduction, or breast augmentation.


The surgery takes about an hour when it’s performed alone. First, you’ll be given local anesthesia, possibly with IV sedation, to ensure that you’ll stay deeply relaxed throughout your procedure. Your surgeon will make an incision along the perimeter of both your current and new areolae, carefully removing the donut-shaped piece of excess tissue. They’ll secure your smaller areola with a permanent suture inside your breast tissue and close the incisions with sutures, which may be dissolvable. Then they’ll bandage the area, and you may be placed in a surgical bra.


If the procedure was done under local anesthesia, you’ll be able to go home very soon after. If you received general anesthesia because your procedure was combined with other breast surgery, you’ll be monitored for a few hours in a recovery room before being released to a friend or family member who can take you home. Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to gently clean your incisions to reduce the risk of infection. They may also ask you to wear your surgical bra or sports bra for the first few weeks, too, to protect your areolae and position your nipples for optimal healing, in addition to protecting the area. During the first week of your healing process, you’ll need to sleep on your back or a wedge backrest so you don’t injure or put too much strain on your chest. After a week, your provider will remove any non-dissolvable sutures at a follow-up appointment, where they’ll also check on how your healing process is going. Avoid exercise or other strenuous activity, for at least two and ideally three weeks. At that point, you should be able to resume your normal activities.