Can I have Inverted Nipple Surgery if My Nipples Pierced?

Can I have Inverted Nipple Surgery if My Nipples Pierced?

Posted on September 13, 2019 by Dr. Susan MacLennan

The term ‘inverted nipples’ refer to nipples that point inward and not outward, as many people would imagine all nipples look like. However, this is completely normal. Approximately 10-20% of women globally have a degree of inverted nipples. If you have inverted nipples, here are some things to know about it and your options for corrective surgery.

The Cause of Inverted Nipples

Inverted nipples are usually genetic thanks to short, underdeveloped, or thickened lactiferous ducts. Lactiferous ducts are responsible for connecting the nipple to the breast gland. This allows for milk to pass through during breastfeeding. With shortened ducts, the nipple is tethered, causing it to retract into the breast and cause the nipple to become inverted.

When to be Concerned?

If you’ve had inverted nipples for most of your life, there’s little cause for concern. However, if you suddenly develop them, you should see your physician. In this case, it may point to underlying health concerns like breast cancer. Further evaluation using an ultrasound or a mammogram can help look into it further.

Breastfeeding and Latching

For women with inverted nipples, breastfeeding can be more difficult since retracted nipples make it harder for the baby to latch onto the breast. However, the milk ducts in these types of breasts often still work perfectly. Interestingly, some inverted nipples change during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period, allowing the baby to latch effectively. However, the nipples often retract back to their natural position once the breastfeeding period is over.

Nipple Piercing

Some women with inverted nipples opt for nipple piercing in the hopes of tugging the nipple out using the weight of a bar or a dumbbell. This can offer temporary improvement and a solution to the appearance of the nipple by elevating it while stretching the ducts. However, once the jewelry is removed, the nipple may retract once again. Nipple piercing also comes with its own risks such as creating additional scar tissue which is notorious for worsening inverted nipples.

Corrective Surgical Procedures

Fortunately, there are surgical procedures that can be performed to correct inverted nipples. This is most often done by dividing the ducts that make the nipple retract inwards. With this surgery, however, you will lose the ability to breastfeed since the milk ducts are affected. This is usually an elective procedure and is not covered by insurance.

Another procedure designed to fix inverted nipples involves using a cut to reach the root cause of the problem. Your plastic surgeon goes to the base of the nipple and then disentangles it from the connective tissue that forces the nipple inward. Once the nipple is disentangled, it pops out to an outward position, correcting the appearance of the nipple. Unlike other corrective surgeries, this procedure does not leave any scarring. The breast’s sensitivity is also upheld since none of the nerves are damaged. Additionally, the milk ducts remain intact, unless otherwise affected, meaning you can still breastfeed after undergoing the procedure.

Eligibility After Nipple Piercing

If you’ve undergone nipple piercing in the past, you’re still eligible to undergo corrective surgery for inverted nipples. So long as the piercings are removed and you’re not experiencing any complications, the procedure can be carried out as long as the bar used is not big enough to interfere with blood flow. However, visiting a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to learn more about your options and ensure a safe and effective procedure.

Schedule a Consultation

To get started on your breast surgery options, contact our office by calling or filling out our online form. Dr. MacLennan can discuss your options during a private consultation.