Inverted Nipple Repair: Are You a Candidate?
An inverted nipple is pulled inward rather than pointing outward. It can be caused by milk ducts that are shorter than usual, prior surgery to the nipples or breast, or an infection or inflammation of the milk ducts. This is generally considered a cosmetic problem, but an inverted nipple can also be a symptom of breast cancer.
Both men and women can have inverted nipples, and the condition can affect one or both nipples.
In some cases, your nipples may point outward when stimulated, but then invert again when the stimulation stops.
Regular stimulation — such as that which occurs with breastfeeding — may help push inverted nipples into their proper position. Do this by: Pulling on your nipple to stretch the restricting tissue. Hold it for several seconds. Repeat several times a day. Regularly using a breast pump or a suction device can also help.
If these methods don't work, surgery may. Inverted nipple surgery is usually done under local anesthesia and takes about one hour to complete. It can also be performed in conjunction with another cosmetic breast procedure, such as breast implants surgery, breast reduction, or breast lift (mastopexy), which will increase your in-surgery time and require a different method of anesthesia.
The procedure involves releasing scar tissue or shortened milk ducts. There are basically two versions: one which severs the milk ducts and one which does not. In both surgeries, the incision, which is made at the base of the nipple, is inconspicuous. Your surgeon inserts tiny surgical instruments through the incision to release the bound tissues and shortened ducts. A suture, placed beneath the nipple, helps hold it in the new protruding position.
In less severe cases, the milk ducts are not severed. Instead, the nipples and the areolae are lifted from the breast and stitched into a new protruding position. The choice of surgery is based on the severity of the condition. In most cases, the milk ducts need to be severed.
There are some risks. Inverted nipple surgery can impair your ability to breast-feed or prevent it entirely. Other risks include reduced sensation in the nipple. Usually, you can go home several hours after inverted nipple surgery and you can shower the next day. Stitches are generally removed after four days. There may be some swelling and discomfort.
Inverted nipple repair surgery costs anywhere from $2,000-$4,000. It is usually not covered by insurance, but financing plans may be available.