Areola reduction surgeries are growing in popularity, according to a survey by the Plastic Surgery Group.
Areola Reductions Are Increasing
The organization found a growing number of women want to change not only the size of their breasts, but also the size of their areolas. The group, made up of members of the British Association of Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, surveyed 131 people to rate the attractiveness of areolas.
Participants were given images of areolas and were asked to use a 1 through 5 rating system to rate the attractiveness of the areolas they viewed. Participants were also asked to decide if the areola was too big, too small or "just right."
Areolas that covered 50 percent or more of the breast were rated as too big by 92 percent of study participants. Areolas that took up less than 15 percent of the breast width were rated as too small by 78 percent of individuals surveyed.
The results of the study showed that nipples that covered 25 to 30 percent of the breast were considered the most attractive and were sized "just right."
Overall, participant feedback showed that images of smaller areolas were rated as more attractive than large areolas.
Areola Survey Results Aren’t Surprising
"Many patients mention feeling self-conscious of their areola or nipple size when they talk about wanting to change their breasts," said Dr. Mona Alqulali M.D., FACOG, Ph.D.
Alqulali is an OBGYN and cosmetic surgeon who practices in Clinton and Bettendorf, Iowa, and performs cosmetic breast surgeries.
"The breasts change significantly over time, due to a number of factors," Alqulali said.
These factors include age, fluctuations in hormones and weight, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. These changes not only impact the breasts, but can also change the size, color and shape of the areolas.
Although changes to the areola may subside after pregnancy or weight loss, for some women they are permanent.
Areola reduction surgery can be performed as a standalone procedure, but many patients choose to combine their areola reduction with other cosmetic breast procedures, like breast implant surgery or a breast lift.
"Patients who choose breast reduction surgery often choose to have their areolas reduced at the same time of their reduction so their areola looks proportional to their new breast," Alqulali said.
During the areola reduction procedure, Alqulali draws a circle around the natural areola and then marks a circle for new, smaller areola. Once marked, the skin between the two circles is surgically removed. After removing the extra skin, the incision is closed.
Breast Surgery Procedures on the Rise
Areola reduction surgeries are not the only type of breast procedures gaining in popularity.
"Women are finally choosing to have breast procedures to get the breasts they’ve always wanted," Alqulali said.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that breast implant surgery consistently ranks in the top five plastic surgery procedures every year.
In the 2016 annual report Plastic Surgery Statistics, the ASPS showed that 290,467 breast augmentation procedures were performed in the United States in 2016. This number reflects a 4 percent increase over 2015.
The ASPS report also shows that the breast lift procedure is becoming more popular. The number of breast lift procedures performed in the U.S. increased from 99,614 surgeries in 2015 to 101,264 procedures in 2016.
More than 39,000 breast reduction surgeries were reported in 2016.
"Whether women are choosing procedures to make their breasts bigger or smaller, most women just want balance." Alqulali said. "This balance is the size of the breast in relation to the patient’s body, and also the size of the areola to the breast."
Allure. More Women Are Nipple Reduction Surgeries - Here's Why. Allure. 25 July 2017.
ASPS. Plastic Surgery Statistics. ASPS 2016.