An inverted nipple(s) is a condition where the nipple, instead of pointing outward, is retracted into the breast. In some cases, the nipple will be temporarily protruded if stimulated, but in others, the inversion remains regardless of stimulus. Both women and men can have inverted nipples. This condition is usually painless, but it can make breasts look a little different. Sometimes only one nipple is inverted and this can cause the breast to appear asymmetrical. Women and men who have inverted nipples may feel embarrassed about the appearance of their breasts. This condition is readily correctable.
Some women and men are born with inverted nipples. Others develop this condition over time. Inverted nipples may also happen after a biopsy near the nipple is performed. Significant changes in the size and the amount of drooping of the breast may also make the nipple appear inverted. Some women even report their nipples retract after breast feeding. There are different “levels” of nipple inversion. The least severe level of nipple inversion is when the inverted nipple generally responds to cold stimulation. The nipple may stay out for a while before retracting again.
The second level of nipple inversion is when the nipples stay inverted all the time. Strong suction may cause them to pop out briefly, but they will invert again. The third and most severe level of nipple inversion is when the nipple will not project at all and this is usually due to tissue constriction or scarring.
Patients with level 1 or 2 nipple inversion usually try non-surgical options to correct the issue, before considering breast revision surgery. There are devices that act as a constant vacuum on the nipple. This however, does not correct the underlying issue that is causing the nipple to retract and the effects will wear off once the device is removed.
One of the surgical techniques available to correct nipple inversion, is severing the connective tissue in the nipple. This makes the fibers spread and stretch, but it does harm the milk ducts. If the patient would like to breast feed in the future it may not be possible. This procedure is done through a small incision in the areola below the nipple.
Inverted nipple correction takes 30 minutes per side. It can be done in the office under local anesthesia
Once nipple revision surgery is complete, sutures will be inserted under the skin to hold the nipple in the desired position. A protective dressing is placed over the nipples for one week. These will hold the nipples in position to ensure they don’t invert again. The sutures will dissolve within a couple weeks. Scarring can be noticeable although minimal. Some swelling and discomfort are to be expected in the weeks following surgery. This should subside within two weeks.
There are always risks with any type of surgery. The possible inverted nipple correction risks include:
The results of nipple inversion surgery are immediately noticeable and usually have a good chance of being long-lasting. It is possible for the nipple to invert again after surgery. It may require a secondary procedure to correct the inversion.
To learn more about inverted nipple correction, or to schedule your consultation with Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Moenster, please fill out the form on this page. You can call our Tucson location at 520-207-3100 or our Sierra Vista location at 520-458-1787. We look forward to seeing you soon!