These days, anything can be nipped and tucked. The cosmetic surgery industry is booming, with soaring rates of women (and men) going under the knife to adjust their appearance. But now, even a simple boob job is small fry. One surgeon based in New York City says he has seen a huge surge in the number of women asking for nipple operations. In just six months, Dr Norman Rowe’s weekly number of nipple patients has more than quadrupled, from about four a week to around 18. ‘Nothing is above cosmetic surgery now,’ Dr Rowe, a board-certified plastic surgeon with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, told Daily Mail Online. ‘People are looking at every detail. It’s not enough now to get a breast augmentation or rhinoplasty – women want to fine-tune every element. And these days, that’s possible.
‘This trend has really come about in the last six months – a year tops. I guess it might have something to do with summer coming around.’ Dr Rowe, who runs Rowe Plastic Surgery in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said he believes the trend is driven by the fashion of wearing sheer tops or thin materials without a bra, leaving the nipples on show. ‘You see a lot of celebrities now wearing see-through dresses,’ he said. ‘My patients come in with pictures from magazines of nipples that they want; they want to wear see-through dresses too, and that makes them take a closer look at their nipples.’ The sheer-shirt trend, he believes, has triggered women to ask him for lighter nipples, smaller areolas (the outer circle part of the nipple), and more symmetry. Some of his other patients ask for more protruding nipples that will bulge out when they go bra-less under a thin shirt, or when they are wearing a bikini. ‘For want of a better word, they want headlights,’ Dr Rowe says sheepishly. ‘I’ve had a number of women tell me that, when they’re wearing a bathing suit, they want their nipples to be more prominent.’ The trend also comes since the rise of the Free The Nipple campaign. So what procedures does Dr Rowe perform? Here he explains…
INNIE TO OUTIE
About 20 percent of women are born with an innie nipple – i.e.: a nipple that lies flat or slopes inwards. To reverse this, Dr Rowe performs a procedure called ‘distraction’. He pulls the nipple out, then pierces it and inserts a medical nipple ring. The patient keeps the nipple ring in for about three months, forcing the scar tissue to stretch. By the time the ring is taken out, the nipple is fixed in that position, he says.
The vast majority of women – around 75 percent or more – have asymmetrical nipples. However, the past year has seen the rise of celebrities wearing sheer shirts, displaying perfectly symmetrical nipples. ‘Symmetry is probably the biggest thing when it comes to designer nipples. Most of my patients are asking for symmetry,’ Dr Rowe said. While all of Dr Rowe’s work is minimally-invasive, this is probably the most invasive of all nipple procedures. It involves surgically tucking some of the skin on the breast to readjust the position of the areola and the nipple. In most cases he will only be operating on one nipple to centralize it and balance it out with the other.
‘This is a very common request among women after giving birth,’ Dr Rowe explained. ‘A lot of women want their nipples lightened post-partum. It’s very simple, we use a laser or a cream. If they want it darker we can do medical tattooing.’
The average diameter of an areola for women in North America is 42mm, but it is very common for women to have much larger areolas or one that is larger than the other. Nipples come in all sizes, from completely flat to protruding just under two inches. Dr Rowe said the most common areola operation is a reduction, and the most common nipple operation is an enlargement.
MAKE AREOLA OR NIPPLE SMALLER
Under local anesthetic, Dr Rowe makes an incision on the perimeter of the areola or on the top of the nipple itself. He then removes some tissue and stitches it up. The scars should fade within months.
MAKE AREOLA OR NIPPLE BIGGER
This is one of the most simple procedures Dr Rowe performs, simply injecting some filler into the areola or nipple, which can last from nine months to two years. ‘Projection is the other main request I get from patients – symmetry and projection,’ Dr Rowe says. ‘Right now there’s a real trend of women wanting their nipples to show and project.’