Background: Macrothelia, enlarged nipples, is a relatively uncommon condition causing psychological distress in both sexes. However, to date, there is no comprehensive comparison of the spectrum of surgical techniques for nipple reduction. This review summarises the current practices to guide surgical approach to macrothelia.
Methods: A literature review was performed using the PubMed database by searching for the following words: nipple areola plasty OR nipple areola complex plasty OR nipple areola reduction OR nipple areola complex reduction OR nipple areola hypertrophy OR nipple areola complex hypertrophy OR nipple-areola complex hypertrophy OR macrothelia AND techniques OR classification OR indications OR treatment OR reduction. Additional articles were selected after reviewing references of identified articles.
Results: Thirty articles were selected after applying inclusion criteria to identify prospective and retrospective studies evaluating and/or describing different techniques, outcomes, complications and patient satisfaction. Reduction of the nipple was described in 639 patients, 582 females and 57 males. The thirty articles selected were case reports and clinical observations. No systematic or unsystematic reviews were found. Five different techniques were described, namely, circumcision, amputation, wedge resection, simple grafting and flaps. Patient satisfaction rates were high. Only a few cases documented sustained ability to breastfeed after the procedure. Complication rates were low and mentioned in only few studies.
Conclusion: All techniques resulted in high patient satisfaction and low complication rates. However, current practices are exceedingly diverse, and there is currently no common classification system, which makes comparison between surgical techniques for nipple reduction challenging. The choice of surgical technique must be based on individual assessment. Clinical guidelines are challenging owing to the heterogeneity of the studies reviewed.