In search of the perfect nipple: the rise of the ‘nip’ tuck

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Bigger is not always better, not when it comes to nipples anyway, that’s according to new research.

Breast surgery has long been one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures but while we all have ideas about what constitutes the perfect breast shape, what about the perfect nipple size?

A survey has shown that there is a new trend towards patients choosing smaller nipple sizes when undergoing breast surgery.

The Plastic Surgery Group, whose surgeons are all full members of the British Association of Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, has noticed a recent shift in patient requests around nipple aesthetics.

Consultant plastic surgeon Dan Marsh says: ‘We have seen a 30% rise in women requesting a smaller nipple size in the last year. This is tied into the trend towards smaller breast augmentation sizes. The average size is now approximately C-D cup compared with double DD or E cup several years ago.’

The plastic surgeons put together a selection of photographs of breasts and nipples to see if they could ascertain what people thought was the ideal nipple size and if there were any trends.

131 people took part and were asked to rate the nipples from one to five in order of attractiveness and to say whether they felt the diameter of the nipple areola complexes shown were ‘too big’, ‘too small’ or ‘just right’.

They found that patients with smaller sized nipples rated higher in attractiveness than those with larger nipples.

The nipples most consistently rated as the most attractive and as ‘just right’ in size had a nipple that occupied 25-30% of the breast when the breast is viewed from straight on.

If a nipple size was more than 50% of the breast in the same view, then 92% of respondents rated the nipple as ‘too big’. 78% of respondents felt that if the nipple areolar complex was less than 15% of the breast width the nipple was ‘too small’.

One reason for this may be that disproportionately big areolas/nipples are associated with large, saggy breasts, or with conditions such as tuberous breasts. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also contribute to the formation of overly large areolas and as such smaller nipples may be associated with youth and pre-pregnancy bodies.

The group suggests that the study is of benefit to patients considering breast lift or breast reduction surgery as they should discuss the size of their new nipple areolar complex with their surgeon.

Nipples have traditionally been a taboo subject when speaking about breasts, something that is covered up and hidden away, but with celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne and Naomi Campbell being vocal about ‘freeing the nipple’ on social media and trends emerging around what women’s nipple preferences are, we may be seeing a shift in attitudes and a new era of ‘nip tuck’.
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