What can you do about an inverted nipple? If you’re not happy with the appearance of your breasts, take a look at the top questions patients have about inverted nipples and the surgical treatment options that are available.
What Are Inverted Nipples?
It’s all in the name. Inverted nipples are just that — nipples that invert inwards (into the breast). Some inverted nipples may also have a flat appearance or lie flat against the surrounding skin. The issue is sometimes present at birth (from a congenital cause). Other times, it presents itself later in life.
How Common Are Inverted Nipples?
According to a study on the prevalence of congenital inverted nipples, published in the journal Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, just over three percent of the 1,625 women the researchers studied had this issue. Of the women, more than 86 percent had bilateral (or both-sided) inverted nipples. A separate study, published in the journal Clinical Lactation, noted that 9 to 10 percent of women have inverted nipples — either congenital or not.
What Causes Inverted Nipples?
Congenital inversion is something a woman or man is born with. This means there often is no known cause. For these people, inversion is a part of the breast’s shape. But inversion later in life (non-congenital) is sometimes a sign of breast cancer or an inflammatory issue. If you have concerns about an inverted nipple or the change is new, contact your medical provider for a professional evaluation.
Can You Treat an Inverted Nipple?
Inverted nipples are treatable. Before the doctor recommends a treatment or corrective procedure, they’ll need to better understand the cause of the inverted nipple. Again, new inversions or nipple changes are possible signs of breast cancer or other breast conditions. The doctor will need to rule out these issues.
Provided the doctor rules out cancer or more serious breast issues (or you’re already sure you have a congenital inversion), they’ll create a treatment plan based on your individual needs. Some patients can correct the inversion with manual home exercises, known as Hoffman’s technique or noninvasive suction devices.
Your doctor may give you an inversion grade between one and three. A Grade 1 nipple is the least inverted and typically doesn’t cause serious problems or interfere with breastfeeding. A Grade 3 is the most significant inversion and may not respond to manual or suction techniques. If these methods don’t work for you or the doctor feels they won’t completely resolve a Grade 2 or 3 issue, you may need surgery.
What Should You Know About Nipple Inversion Surgery?
A cosmetic surgical procedure can provide a permanent change. The type of surgery you choose depends on the doctor’s recommendation and whether you want or need to preserve some of your milk ducts.
A parachute flap technique surgery can leave at least some of the milk ducts attached. This shouldn’t change your ability to breastfeed. Even though this is sometimes an option, the more common surgery includes the removal of the milk ducts. This means you won’t have the ability to breastfeed in the future.
Whether the procedure your doctor recommends leaves some milk ducts intact or doesn’t, both types are typically outpatient procedures. These shorter surgeries usually take a few hours to complete and are done in hospitals or outpatient surgical centers. Your doctor will provide you with prep instructions and help you to understand any post-surgical restrictions.
This type of outpatient procedure may come with little downtime. The length of recovery depends on the procedure, your current health status, your typical activity level, and how quickly your body normally heals.
Are you ready to change the look of your inverted nipple or nipples? Contact Jaibaji Plastic Surgery for more information.