Should I be worried about having large areolas?

My nipples are normal size, but my areolas are the circumference of a soda can. They’ve always been this large and I’ve never been happy with them. I’m 30 and plan on having a few kids with my husband over the next few years, so I don’t want to get surgery now, but I eventually want to make them smaller. Outside of the way they look, should I be concerned about how large they are?

VonnieRT

F, 32, New York

Tags:woman age 25-34 areola areolas too large

They are many different shapes of areolae, just as there are normal variations of breast size. Anatomical variation is common in areolae, with size varying from person to person as the breast anatomy of each woman is unique. A normal areola can range in size from 1.5 inches in diameter to 4 inches in diameter. Women with large breasts often have larger areolae.

A large areola surrounding a smaller nipple, however, is still entirely normal and not necessarily a sign of any pathology or disorder -- such as cancer. As you state, you have always had large areolae. The only factor that should be a cause for concern is if you notice any changes in size, color or texture of your areolae. However, the color can darken and the size increase as a result of hormonal changes, like pregnancy. For this reason it is best to wait to undergo plastic surgery until you have finished having children.

Women with larger areolae who feel self-conscious about the appearance of their breasts often elect to undergo areola reduction surgery, which can be performed on its own or in conjunction with another procedure such as breast and/or nipple reduction surgery.

Areola reduction surgery is relatively straightforward and requires little downtime. The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and lasts between 1 and 2 hours. In most cases, you can go home a few hours after surgery. Your areolae will be reduced in size and the shape potentially modified so they appear more balanced.

The procedure is performed by removing a circular (donut-shaped) section of the outer circumference of the areola, leaving the nipple intact. The surrounding skin is then tightened like a purse string to encircle the new areola, which is held in place by dissolvable stitches.

Many surgeons will also place a permanent stitch deeply within the breast tissue to prevent the areola from re-stretching or enlarging following surgery. There is a possibility of some scarring following the procedure, however, with proper care the scar can be minimized. Many scars fade to the point of being barely visible, but this cannot be guaranteed. It is also critical to place yourself in the care of a board-certified plastic surgeon to better ensure you get aesthetically beautiful results.

While there’s no medical reason to be concerned about large areolae, simply knowing there are surgical options available to address the issue can be reassuring to many women.

There's no reason to be concerned. Areola size and color vary widely between women. I can't give you any direct medical advice without an examination, but what you're describing sounds normal.

Some women have large areolas before having children, and many women develop them as part of the natural body changes associated with pregnancy. A very common frustration is that as a result of breastfeeding, the areola expands and does not return to its original size once a woman has stopped breastfeeding.

If you want a smaller areola or a smaller nipple, these desires can be easily fulfilled using a common breast surgery procedure. While areola and nipple reduction surgery is very safe, it can, in some cases, cause complications with breastfeeding. If you have not yet had children, I would advise waiting until after your family is complete.

If you notice any significant change in the size and/ or color of your areola -- from smaller to larger or from lighter to darker -- within a short period of time, please alert your physician.

Remember to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to ensure you find the treatment and practice that provides the expertise and experience to satisfy your individual needs.

There is nothing to be concerned about.  If you are unhappy with the way they look, a simple surgical procedure can be performed to make them smaller.  Pregnancy may make them larger or change the size and shape of your breasts.  So you may want to wait until after your are done having children.

Unfortunately exercises and creams will not improve the appearance of your areola.  An areola reduction or breast lift procedure would probably give you the best cosmetic result.  I would see a board certified plastic surgeon for an individual consult or post your photos through Zwivel for an on line consultation. Best of luck.   

Having large areola is not uncommon and should not be medically concerning.  This may unfortunately worsen with pregnancy.  After you are finished having children i would see a plastic surgeon to discuss a possible areolar reduction or breast lift to address this cosmetic concern.  Good luck.