The Areola Breast Augmentation Incision

When it comes to researching the type of incision that allows the breast implants to be placed in your body, you’ll find there are three options: axillary (underarm), inframammary (breast fold) and areolar. The areolar, or areola, incision is currently one of the most widely used incisions in breast augmentation surgery. This is because it allows for all the possible placement optionsof the implants: over the muscle, partial submuscular, or total submuscular. There are a variety of other reasons why areola incisons are considered the best for the job. Keep reading for more information on the process.

What Can I Expect With the Areola Incision?

The areola is the dark skin around the nipple. The incision is made on the bottom edge of this area to insert the breast implant. Ideally, the incision should be made where the dark tissue meets the lighter breast tissue, which aids the scar in "blending in" as it lightens over time. Leaving the surgical tape on for a while will help the scar during the healing process because it reduces the tension on the skin and keeps the actual incision from "pulling." This helps the scar heal into a very thin line, as well as keeping it flat.

What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of an Areola Incision?

Many doctors prefer this method of inserting the breast implant because it allows them to be close to the body and chest area, as opposed to farther away, such as the case with an axillary incision in the underarm or a TUBA incision through the navel. While great results can be achieved with every type of incision mentioned above, following are some more reasons why you may want to consider areola incisions for your augmentation:

  • The doctor will have perfect visibility for the implant pocket
  • The scar may be hidden by the areola tissue
  • Breast implants can be removed through this incision

Following are some disadvantages to the areolar incision technique:

  • The scar may be visible
  • Some sensory nerves will be cut
  • The implant may be at risk for bacteria exposure
  • Risk of breastfeeding complications

What About the Risk of Bacteria Reaching the Implant?

Some surgeons use a protective "sleeve" when inserting the implant via the nipple incision. (This does not apply to pre-filled implants, since they cannot be rolled up and inserted like inflatable breast implants can). The breast ducts are known to harbor bacteria, so the sleeve prevents the implant from coming into contact with the breast ducts, thus virtually eliminating the risk of contamination, which could lead to problems like capsular contracture. If the technique of using a protective sleeve is used, the disadvantage of exposing the implant to possible bacteria in the breast is not an issue.

What Situations Are Best for an Areola Incison?

In cases where a mastopexy (breast lift) is recommended, the nipple incision would be the obvious choice. All breast lifts require an incision around the nipple, so it would be pointless to use any other incision as part of the process for inserting the implants. Doing so would only create more scarring, which is unnecessary. Some doctors also use this type of incision for mildly sagging or tuberous breasts.

Updated August 2016

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