What is nipple inversion?

Around 2% of women are affected by inverted nipples.  Most of these are due to changes that the person is born with.  Inversion of the nipples can lead to irritation of the skin in the area, infections, difficulty in breast feeding and concerns around the appearance.  

The nipple inversion usually only becomes apparent during puberty as the breast tissue starts to develop.  A lack of nipple bulk and tight fibrous bands tethering the surface of the nipple to the deeper breast tissue are thought to be the two main factors causing nipple inversion.  It should be noted that in some cases, if an inverted nipple develops later in life, it can be due to an underlying breast cancer.  As a result, it’s important to be checked for any suspicious breast lumps particularly if the inverted nipple only affects one side and comes on later in life.

What can be done about nipple inversion?

There are a number of surgical techniques that have been described to correct inverted nipples.  My approach involves using a combination of lengthening/cutting any tight fibrous bands that are holding the nipple inwards, whilst also using carefully placed stitches to help support the nipple in its new position.  The operation usually takes 30-60minutes and is typically performed under local anaesthetic.

If the nipple retraction is particularly severe, I tend to place a supportive stitch through the tip of the nipple and tie this over a splint that holds it out in its new position for the first week after surgery.

The risk of the nipple trying to return to its inverted position is about 5%.

Can I breast feed after having inverted nipple correction?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors.  Inverted nipples themselves can make it very hard for women to breast feed, as the baby struggles to latch on.  As a result, inverted nipple correction hopefully gives a greater chance of success.  That being said, in very severely retracted nipples, it’s necessary to divide all of the tight bands between the nipple surface and underlying breast.  This also divides the milk ducts in the area, which means that future breast feeding isn’t possible.  So, in summary, if the nipple inversion was going to prohibit breast feeding before the surgery, it’s likely that breast feeding still won’t be possible after surgical correction.

Keen to find out more?  Please contact us on 075785350 at the Da Vinci Clinic to book an appointment with me to discuss your options