Inverted nipples can be more than an embarrassing cosmetic issue. When your nippples are inverted, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to breastfeed.
Fortunately, a simple treatment will correct inverted nipples, allowing you to feel more comfortable during intimate encounters and allowing your breasts to function as intended.
What causes nipple inversion?
About 10 percent of the population has one or two inverted nipples. Some women—and men—are born with the condition. The basic structure of the nipple or the surrounding tissue and skin are responsible for the problem. For example, the milk ducts are often too short which pulls the nipple inward toward the body.
In others, inverted nipples may develop over time as the result of inflammation or scar tissue from surgeries and biopsies. Dramatic changes in breast size may also cause inverted nipples. This can happen following pregnancy when breast tissue decreases. In rare cases, breastfeeding can cause nipples to become inverted.
Levels of inversion
Inverted nipples don't protrude from the breast the way normal nipples do. They may appear shrunken, folded or pinched. Level 1 inverted nipples may respond to cold or touch and may protrude for a period of time before inverting again. The most severe type of inverted nipples, level 3, will never protrude even with vigorous manual stimulation.
Breastfeeding and inverted nipples
Nursing your infant can be quite difficult if you have inverted nipples. The baby will likely have difficulty latching. Some woman manually manipulate their nipples so their babies can latch, but this process can be painful. Additionally, in some cases, a woman's milk ducts have adhered to her breast tissue, making the nursing experience uncomfortable.
A minimally invasive procedure helps correct the appearance of inverted nipples. At one time, nipple correction surgery simply cut the milk ducts which allowed the nipple to protrude normally. However, it also eliminated a woman's chances at breastfeeding in the future.
Today's technique concentrates on the fibers that are holding the nipple back instead of the milk ducts. The fibers are stretched or spread instead of severed. Sutures are used to hold the nipple in the correct position while it heals, and patients wear a protective device over their nipple for a few days after surgery. For most people, the surgery is a permanent solution for level 1 or 2 inverted nipples. The ability to breastfeed following surgery varies from patient to patient.
For severely inverted nipples, the surgical procedure will not preserve the mammary duct. Therefore, breastfeeding won't be possible. However, in severe cases, this may be the only option available to improve the cosmetic appearance of inverted nipples.
It's best to discuss your specific situation with one of our experienced cosmetic surgeons. Call 650-562-6762 to make an appointment for a consultation, and we'll be glad to go over your treatment options.