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Dermatol Surg. 2002 Dec;28(12):1153-7; discussion 1158.

Cosmetic color improvement of the nipple-areola complex by optimal use of tretinoin and hydroquinone.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.



A successful treatment to improve the color of nipple-areola complex (NAC) has never been reported, although the number of women seeking the more attractively colored NAC is not small.


To determine the effectiveness of our bleaching protocol for cosmetic improvement of the NAC.


The protocol was composed of two phases: bleaching phase (4-8 weeks) and healing phase (4-6 weeks). 0.2-0.4% tretinoin aqueous gel was applied concomitantly with 5% hydroquinone, 7% lactic acid ointment for bleaching twice a day. Tretinoin was applied to the NAC with a small cotton applicator, while hydroquinone was widely applied beyond the NAC area. After obtaining sufficient improvement in NAC color, the application of tretinoin was discontinued and hydroquinone alone was continually applied in the healing phase until the reactive erythema was eliminated. Fifteen female patients were involved in this study.


The average treatment period was 16.6 weeks. Improvement of NAC color was obtained in 12 patients (80%) by the physician's estimation, and 11 patients (73%) satisfied with their final results. The treatment was repeated after a 1-month interval of tretinoin application in 4 patients: 2 desired further improvement in color, and 2 had the second course conducted to treat the postinflammatory hyperpigmentation on the surrounding mound induced by the first course.


This approach appeared to be most effective for cosmetic improvement of NAC color among treatments available so far.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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