Women often ask for our help with treating inverted nipples. Sometimes only one nipple is inverted, and your breasts may look asymmetric. When both sides are inverted, you may be embarrassed about the appearance of your breasts. In many cases, a simple office procedure can help.
Inverted nipples often develop when the ducts and tissues under the nipple become shortened, tethering the nipple inwards. The condition is usually painless, and some women’s breasts simply develop that way. Nipple inversion can develop as a result of inflammation in the ducts under the nipple, after removal of breast tissue during a biopsy, or even after breast reduction. Very rarely, new onset nipple inversion can be a sign of breast cancer, so if you notice a new change in your breasts, schedule a visit with your doctor right away.
Some women have nipples that are flat but will respond to cold or stimulation. Others have nipples that stay in most of the time but can be brought out with strong suction before retracting again. We also frequently see nipples that have so much tethering deep underneath that they don’t come out at all.
Women with less severe inversion can try suction devices such as the Niplette and have some improvement. However, this may not be a permanent solution.
Inverted nipples can also be pulled out and pierced with a dumbbell-shaped piercing bar. Applying traction to the bar over time can stretch the tethering tissue. Some younger women choose this approach in an attempt to avoid interference with breastfeeding.
The most predictable approach involves a minor surgical procedure that either stretches or cuts the “cord” of tissue that tethers the nipple inwards. We start by applying numbing cream and then local anesthesia. Once the nipple is completely numb, very small incisions are made at the base of the nipple and the tissue deep in the nipple is released while the nipple is held out. A few dissolving stitches close the tiny openings and hold the nipple out while it heals. You’ll wear a protective dressing for about a week and your nipple may be tender and bruised. This technique can interfere with your ability to breastfeed, so that’s important to consider when considering your timing and options. This minor procedure is very effective at correcting inverted nipples with barely perceptible scars.
Inverted nipples can be corrected with a simple, effective, in-office procedure. To learn more, call Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery at (802) 231-4284 or fill out a contact form.