The size and shape of areola and nipples vary greatly amongst females. Women usually have larger areola and nipples than girls who have not yet crossed their puberty.
The human areola is mostly circular, but many women have large, oval-shaped areolas. The areola of sexually mature women averages around 1.5 inches but can be as big as 4 inches.
Lactating women and women with particularly large breasts may have even larger areolas.
What exactly is the areola?
The areola is the circular dark-colored area of skin surrounding the nipple of the breast in females.
Areola has glands called Montgomery’s glands that secrete lubricating oil. The oil protects the nipple and skin from chafing during breastfeeding.
What is the color of areola?
The color of the areola can be anything from:
- Chocolate brown
- Dark brown
The areola looks pale among people with lighter skin tones and darker among people with darker skin tones.
Can the size of the areola change over time?
It is not uncommon for the size of your areolas and nipples to change throughout your lifetime.
During puberty, your ovaries begin producing the female hormone estrogen, which causes your breasts to grow. As your breasts continue to become big after puberty, your areola will appear smaller in proportion.
During pregnancy, your areola may become darker and appear bigger due to the hormonal surge to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.
The areola is part of the skin, which means they can stretch when you gain weight. As your breast gets bigger, your areolas may grow big too. Your areolas may or may not return to their previous size after you lose weight.
What are those bumps on the areola?
Montgomery glands are normal skin glands that appear as small painless bumps on the areola. Every person has Montgomery glands though they are more apparent in some others.
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Sanuki J, Fukuma E, Uchida Y. Morphologic Study of Nipple-Areola Complex in 600 Breasts. Aesthetic Plast Surg. May 2009;33(3):295-7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18626683/
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