Inverted nipples, also known as retracted or invaginated nipples, are nipples that lie flat against the areola or sink inward into the breast rather than projecting outward. This condition can affect one or both nipples and is not always a cause for great concern, however, for psychological and aesthetic reasons and for ease of breastfeeding, repairing it can provide great benefits.
What is inverted nipple repair?
Inverted nipple repair is a surgical procedure done to correct inverted nipples while maintaining their full sensation and function as well as preserving the ability to breastfeed. While non-surgical tricks and treatments can provide temporary relief, inverted nipple repair surgery is required to correct the condition for good.
There are three grades of nipple inversion: In the 1st, the nipple can be simply coaxed out if gently rolled between the thumb and finger, or touched with a cold wet cloth, after which it often remains out for a protracted period. While all grades may benefit from surgery, it is the 2nd and 3rd grades that require surgery: When there is difficulty drawing out the nipple and it then returns to its former position (Grade 2), or when it is difficult or impossible to even draw out of pull the nipple forward (Grade 3).
What causes inverted nipples?
Inverted nipples can be caused by genetic factors and in many cases are something a patient may have experienced since birth. They can also be caused by a later injury or surgery the breast. An estimated 10% of women, and many men, have at least one inverted nipple.
How is inverted nipple repair surgery done?
During inverted nipple repair surgery, a carefully placed fine incision is made around the base of the nipple for surgical access. As the milk ducts, which are shortened or pulled taught for whatever reason, are what holds the nipple in its inverted position, the milk ducts are carefully teased out, then sutured in their new position to form a properly projecting nipple. An additional surgical option, which doesn’t preserve the ability to breastfeed, is to detach the milk ducts from the nipple.