Nipples. Everyone’s got ’em. But according to new research, not everyone is satisfied with the size of their nipples — specifically their areolas (regardless of how many they have) — and are going to great lengths, like plastic surgery, to change that.
In a survey conducted by the Plastic Surgery Group, a group comprised of members of the British Association of Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, researchers found a recent shift in patient requests surrounding areola aesthetics.
The small questionnaire, which surveyed 131 people in the U.K, asked participants to rate the images of areolas on a scale of one to five, in order of “attractiveness,” and then to indicate if the diameter of the nipple areola were “too big,” “too small,” or “just right.” The results revealed that, overall, patients with smaller-sized nipples were viewed as more attractive than the larger-sized nipples.
According to the survey results, if the nipple size occupied more than 50 percent of the breast in the image, approximately 92 percent of participants deemed the nipple “too big,” while 78 percent of those surveyed found that if the nipple areolar complex was less than 15 percent of the breast width, it was deemed “too small.” To be “just right,” the nipple had to occupy about 25 to 30 percent of the breast, when the breast was viewed straight on.
These findings aren’t that surprising, says Matthew Schulman, a New York City plastic surgeon. “There has always been a desire for smaller areolas, but I think more people are realizing that there is an option for them,” Schulman tells Allure. “In my practice, I’ve seen a 25 percent increase for this procedure since last year.”
Schulman says this is due to the fact “large areolas can make the breasts look less youthful,” while ” smaller and symmetric areolas can help the overall appearance of both breasts.” And because areolas can change in size, shape, and color with “aging, weight changes, pregnancies, and after previous cosmetic breast surgery,” many women seek out procedures to alter said changes.
New York City-based plastic surgeon Darren Smith says he often receives requests for smaller areolas during breast-related procedures, as well. “The reason for the preference varies depending on the reason they are seeking breast surgery in the first place,” says Smith. “Women seeking a breast reduction often have areolas that are stretched by the underlying enlarged breast. In effect, these stretched areolas are proportionate to the enlarged breast. When the breast is reduced, if the areola is not sufficiently reduced, it will be too large for the new, smaller, breast.”