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The dark skin area around your nipples is called the areola. If you feel this area is too large you may be a candidate for areola reduction surgery.

What happens during areola reduction?

Areola reduction is usually performed under local anaesthetic and takes about one hour. In some cases, general anaesthetic may be used.

Areola reduction surgery is performed by removing a circular area of the outer brown area of the areola. The skin surrounding this is then brought inwards in a purse string fashion to surround the areola. Absorbable stitches inside the areola are used to reduce the diameter. Your wound will be covered by dressings and you may need to wear a special bra to hold your breasts in position while they are healing.

Immediately following your procedure you may be drowsy if you have had a general anaesthetic. Your incisions may be sore, but we will give you pain relief medication. You should be able to go home on the day of surgery.

Going home after areola reduction

You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Follow your consultant’s recommendations regarding wearing a bra and resuming normal activities. You will need to sleep on your back for a few weeks after your procedure. Discuss this with your consultant if you have any concerns.

Most people notice mild discomfort after areola reduction surgery. This is usually well controlled by over the counter medication such as Paracetamol. Discomfort usually eases after a few days. 

You should be able to return to work and social activities within a week. You may experience swelling or numbness after your surgery. These symptoms will ease but may take up to 6 weeks to fully subside.

Most people recover quickly from areola reduction and the results of the procedure are permanent.

Risks and complications

As with any surgical procedure, there could be complications such as:

  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Swelling

Specific complications of areola reduction may include:

  • Loss of sensation in your nipples
  • Reduced ability to breastfeed

Preparing for your surgery

  • Smoking should be stopped several weeks before your operation
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can help patients avoid further complications
  • Regular exercise can also help (but make sure you consult your GP first)
  • There should be no shaving or waxing of the area to be cut in the week leading up to the operation
  • Having a bath or shower on the day of the operation is a good idea.

Are there any alternatives to areola reduction surgery?

As this treatment is simple and effective, it is generally recommended. If you’re overweight, you may first be advised to lose weight. This may reduce the overall size and shape of your breasts, including the nipple area.

Our surgeons

Choosing the right consultant is an important part of the process; Find out more about Nuffield Health’s registered cosmetic surgeons.

Making the right decision

So that you know exactly what to expect from the results of this surgery, we encourage you to share your expectations with your consultant as early as possible. This should help you to establish a clear indication of what is realistically achievable with this procedure.

We will never pressure you to make a decision. To give yourself time to decide what’s right for you, we recommend you leave at least 2 weeks between your consultation and booking your surgery.


We strive to make sure that you’re completely satisfied with the treatment and care you receive. If you do have any complaints post-surgery, you can send them to us via our clinical complaints form.

Ways to pay

Paying for yourself

There are no hidden costs in our treatment prices. The price you see is the price you pay.

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Personal medical loan

Spread the cost of your treatment with a 6, 10 or 12 month 0% personal medical loan.

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Medical insurance

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