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The 4-flap Jester’s Hat Technique for Nipple Reduction

Economides, James M., MD; Pittman, Troy A., MD

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open: February 2017 - Volume 5 - Issue 2 - p e1233
doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001233
Ideas and Innovations
Open
SDC
United States

Summary: Macrothelia, or nipple hypertrophy, is a condition that may cause severe psychological distress to those who suffer from it. Although effective in their primary goal of reducing nipple diameter and projection, previously reported techniques in nipple reduction suffer from imperfect aesthetic outcomes with noticeable scarring patterns, anatomically anomalous shape, and a smoothing of the natural ruffles of the nipple. We propose a simple technique to nipple reduction that improves upon previous techniques and creates a more naturally appearing nipple. A 4-flap technique resembling a jester’s hat is described whereby suture lines are concealed within the central nipple to recreate the naturally ruffled appearance of a native nipple. Four patients have undergone this technique at a single institution with 100% patient satisfaction and no postoperative complications. Nipple sensation was maintained in all patients postoperatively. A 4-flap nipple reduction technique is a viable alternative to previously described techniques, which may offer more anatomically congruent results.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Received for publication September 20, 2016; accepted December 20, 2016.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article. The Article Processing Charge was paid for by the authors.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Clickable URL citations appear in the text.

Troy A. Pittman, MD, Department of Plastic Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, 1-PHC, Washington, DC 20007, E-mail: troy.a.pittman@gunet.georgetown.edu

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

Macrothelia, or nipple hypertrophy, is a condition that may cause severe psychological distress to those who suffer from it. Patients most often experience embarrassment when wearing tight-fitting or light-colored clothing as well as swimwear or sports apparel. Efforts to conceal prominent nipples through taping or padding may lead to chafing or ulceration that causes physical discomfort in addition to psychological distress. Typically, this condition manifests itself during adolescence or pregnancy and may have a hereditary component.1

Although not well categorized, previous reports suggest ideal nipple proportions to be approximately 1 cm in diameter with 1 cm of projection and in a ratio of 1:3.6 nipple-to-areola diameter.2

Numerous reports on nipple reduction exist including the circumcision, geometric nipple, triple-flap, sinusoidal, “Chullo-Hat,” and top hat techniques.3–7 Although effective in their primary goal of reducing nipple diameter and projection, these techniques suffer from imperfect aesthetic outcomes with noticeable scarring patterns, anatomically anomalous shape, and a smoothing of the natural texture of the nipple. We propose a simple technique to nipple reduction that improves upon previous techniques and creates a more naturally appearing nipple.

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METHODS

Surgical Technique

The reduction technique involves the creation of 4 symmetric triangles with apices at the midpoint of the nipple (Video 1). (See video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, which demonstrates the 4-flap “jester’s hat” technique for nipple reduction. This video is available in the “Related Videos” section of the Full-Text article on PRSGlobalOpen.com or available at http://links.lww.com/PRSGO/A371.) The desired projection of the nipple is determined preoperatively and marked at 4 points reflecting each of the cardinal directions. These 4 points will correspond to the bases of the resulting triangles. A 3-0 nylon suture is placed between the 2 points comprising the North–South axis and held taut with the surgeon’s nondominant hand. An 11-blade scalpel is then used to excise a wedge of tissue perpendicular to the North–South axis, thus creating 2 semicircular flaps resembling a clamshell. Next, a 3-0 nylon suture is sewn between the 2 points comprising the East–West axis and again held taut in the nondominant hand. A similar wedge of tissue is now excised using an 11-blade scalpel, this time perpendicular to the East–West axis. The resulting 4 triangular flaps now resemble a jester’s hat. The 4 points are sewn together with a 4-0 chromic suture, creating an aesthetically pleasing and anatomically accurate nipple (Fig. 1).

Video Graphic 1.

Video Graphic 1.

Fig. 1.

Fig. 1.

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RESULTS

This technique was performed on 4 patients at our single institution over the past year (Figs. 2, 3). All patients experienced symptoms of psychological distress related to the size of their nipples after breastfeeding before presentation. Each patient underwent reduction of their nipples with an average follow-up of 6 months. All patients were pleased with their results and would undergo the procedure again. No surgical complications occurred during the follow-up period, and all patients maintained nipple sensation postoperatively.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 2.

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DISCUSSION

In our experience, previously described techniques in nipple reduction result in poor aesthetic outcomes, which include noticeable scars and alterations in the natural texture of the nipple. For example, the similarly described “Chullo-Hat” technique relies on the creation of 2 fish-mouth–type flaps for nipple reduction, and when sutured together, it resembles the appearance of a clamshell with a linear scar traversing the diameter of the nipple.7 The 4-flap “jester’s hat” technique for nipple reduction is a modification of this and other previously published techniques that allows for a more anatomically congruent and aesthetically pleasing result.5 The incorporation of 4 triangular flaps, which are cinched together centrally, not only hides scars within the nipple but also recreates the natural rough appearance of the nipple. This technique is easy to learn and reproduce and versatile in its application, allowing for reduction of any size nipple. In our small series of patients, all were satisfied with their results and would undergo the procedure again. Importantly, nipple sensation was maintained in all patients, and none experienced any postoperative complications. This technique will be a valuable tool in the breast surgeon’s armamentarium and can supplement other techniques when applicable.

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CONCLUSION

The 4-flap “jester’s hat” technique of nipple reduction is an easy and predictable option for nipple reduction in macrothelia, which creates an anatomically accurate and aesthetically pleasing result.

Fig. 3.

Fig. 3.

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REFERENCES

1. Regnault P. Nipple hypertrophy. A physiologic reduction by circumcision. Clin Plast Surg. 1975;2:391–396.
2. Lai YL, Wu WC. Nipple reduction with a modified circumcision technique. Br J Plast Surg. 1996;49:307–309.
3. Cheng MH, Smartt JM, Rodriguez ED, et al. Nipple reduction using the modified top hat flap. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006;118:1517–1525.
4. DeBono R, Rao GS. A simple technique for correction of male nipple hypertrophy: the “sinusoidal” nipple reduction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997;100:1890–1892.
5. Basile FV, Chang YC. The triple-flap nipple-reduction technique. Ann Plast Surg. 2007;59:260–262.
6. Lee EI, Withers EH. Geometric nipple reduction technique: an approach to management of nipple hypertrophy. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2014;67:1301–1303.
7. Sim HB, Sun SH. Nipple reduction with the Chullo-Hat technique. Aesthet Surg J. 2015;35:NP154–NP160.

Supplemental Digital Content

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Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.