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Your nipples and breast reduction

Posted by Dr Jamie Burt on 2 August 2017
Your nipples and breast reduction

What happens to your nipples during and after breast reduction?

Quite understandably women have lots of questions about what happens to their nipples during and after breast reduction.

The common questions and misunderstandings are listed below:

Are my nipples removed during breast reduction?

Your nipples remain attached to your breast tissue at all times during a breast reduction. They are never removed. We keep them attached to the breast tissue we are keeping to make you new breast with as part of the procedure. The blood flows through this remaining breast tissue to your nipples to keep them alive.


Will I have numb nipples after breast reduction? Could this numbness be permanent?

It is common to have some degree of numbness (pins and needles or lack of sensation) after breast reduction. Sometimes this is the result of any bruising and swelling that is present and as the bruising and swelling resolves over the first few weeks following a procedure this slowly goes away.

It is possible to have a permanently numb nipple following breast reduction. This is one of the important risks to consider and understand before deciding to proceed with any procedure.


Can I have the size of my nipples reduced as part of a breast reduction?

Most if not all women considering having breast reduction have nipples which are stretched and overly large. As a routine part of our discussions about breast reduction we will discuss this with you but almost 100% of women having a breast reduction have their nipple size reduced to match the new size of their now smaller breasts.


As well as being stretched and overly large my nipples are misshapen. Can this be fixed at a breast reduction procedure?

It is not uncommon, in addition to being stretched, to see women whose nipples are not round but oblong in shape. This is usually the result of the weight of your breasts dragging downwards more vertically and in the sideways direction. Your nipples therefore over time may be stretched longer in the vertical direction than from side to side resulting in this appearance.

This can the addressed at breast reduction in 3 ways removing the excessive dragging, weight of the breasts, repositioning the nipples back onto your chest to a more favorable position and reducing the size of your nipples to restore a more rounded normal looking shape.


I have inverted nipples can this be corrected during a breast reduction?

Inverted nipples are not uncommon. Sometimes when we perform breast reduction repositioning the remaining breast tissue and nipples on the chest wall corrects this issue. Sometimes you may need a small second procedure to correct some months after breast reduction. If required it can be performed under local anaesthetic without requiring hospital admission. It is quite rarely required.


I don't have inverted nipples now. Could breast reduction result in an inverted nipple?

This is possible but rarely seen. If it was to happen it can be corrected by a small second procedure some months after breast reduction performed under local anaesthetic without the need for hospital admission.


Could I develop nipple asymmetry as a result of a breast reduction procedure?

It is possible to develop differences in nipple size following breast reduction. It is not common but potential issues are minor difference in size of the nipples from side to side. We actually measure and mark the nipple size exactly the same at the time of breast reduction but differences in the stretching of your skin from side to side can result in developing difference over time.

Similarly even though we measure and mark your new nipple size and shape with perfect circles it is possible that over time your nipples will stretch and not retain this shape.


Could my nipples die as a result of a breast reduction procedure?

Fortunately this is a rare issue but it is certainly possible that the circulation to the skin of the nipple can be damaged during breast reduction. It is possible that over days following a breast reduction that this skin can die. If this occurs physically you are likely to remain well but emotionally it is an extremely distressing event and you would require a great deal of emotional support. If this was to occur you would require further procedures to reconstruct a new nipple. This complication of breast reduction is rare.

For further information about breast reduction, plastic surgery or to make an appointment contact Dr James Burt - Plastic Surgeon at The Breast Reduction Clinic in Malvern, Melbourne.

Dr Jamie BurtAuthor:Dr Jamie Burt
About: Dr Jamie Burt was born and educated in Melbourne, attending the University of Melbourne and graduating with MBBS in 1998. He is a member of the Senior Medical Staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and was Head of Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute until 2004. Known for his respectful, informative, and caring approach, Jamie has been caring for women with breast reduction concerns for over 15 years. During this time, one moment stands out as defining what he aims to achieve with The Breast Reduction Clinic.
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