Inverted Nipple Treatment

Approximately 10-20 percent of people, both men and women, experience inverted nipples. This condition can be a source of self-consciousness but typically does not indicate any health risks or issues. That said, inverted nipples may make breastfeeding more difficult and may cause some patients to feel uncomfortable showing this part of their body in public or intimate settings. Our extensively trained plastic surgeons understand your concerns and utilize an advanced technique to correct this issue. If you are bothered by nipple inversion on one or both sides, talk to our medical team to learn how we can help.

What is an inverted nipple?

An inverted nipple is one that sits back into the breast, either flush with the surrounding skin or set deeper into the areola (colored area around the nipple), rather than protruding outward. Some types of inversions happen only occasionally and can be reversed with cold temperature or manual stimulation. More significant inversions typically cannot be made to extend outward, even with physical manipulation. If severe enough, this condition can cause problems for women who are trying to breastfeed. Otherwise, inverted nipples are considered an aesthetic concern, but one that may result in psychological discomfort or even embarrassment.

There are three “grades” of nipple inversion that describe the degree of severity, how likely it is that the inversion could affect breastfeeding, and what the best treatment might be.

Grade 1: Gently squeezing or otherwise stimulating the nipple (including breastfeeding) can extract the nipple, often for long periods of time.

Grade 2: More difficulty is experienced drawing the nipple out and, when released, the nipple returns to its previous position.

Grade 3: It is difficult or impossible to pull the nipple forward.

What causes inverted nipples?

Most people are simply born with one or both nipples inverted, either part of the time or at all times. Other causes can include trauma or scarring, infections, or, in very rare cases, breast cancer. Many women, particularly if it is their first child, experience inverted nipples during pregnancy, and this effect often has no bearing on the woman’s health or ability to breastfeed. If your nipples were previously extending outward and became inverted suddenly or over time, and you are not pregnant, you may wish to discuss this symptom with your primary care physician.

For men, gynecomastia can also lead to nipple inversion of one or both nipples. Treating the underlying cause of the condition can help to correct this effect. If, however, inversion is a congenital (present at birth) state, then surgical treatment can be used to bring the nipple back out from the surrounding skin.

Treatment Options for an Inverted Nipple

While there are many non-surgical treatment options, they typically are ineffective in more severe inversions. The best technique for an inverted nipple that will not remain extended is a surgical procedure that separates the milk ducts from the nipple, which allows it to then protrude. Sutures can also be used to support the eversion (extension outward) of the nipple. It’s important to note that this operation will remove the ability to breastfeed. If that is something that is important for you to do in the future, you may wish to wait until after having children to consider this option. That said, women with very severe inversions may not be able to breastfeed due to their condition anyway. We can discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each solution during your initial consultation, and we will help you determine the best one for your needs and goals.  

Let’s talk about inverted nipple treatments. Call our medical team to schedule a consultation and find out more about your options.