What is an inverted nipple?
An inverted nipple is a condition where the nipple is retracted into the breast, instead of pointing outward. Both women and men can have inverted nipples.
Around 10-20% of all women are born with this condition. Short ducts or a wide areola muscle cause inverted nipple, and some women are born with it.
After a sudden or major weight loss programme, inverted nipples may also occur. In some cases, the nipple will be temporarily protruded if stimulated, but in others, the inversion remains regardless of stimulus.
Inverted Nipple Repair Procedure
The surgery takes around 30 minutes and is performed under general/local anaesthesia. The procedure and technique used will depend on the degree of nipple inversion. An incision is made around the base of the nipple and the milk ducts are divided in order to correct the protrusion of the nipple.
Inverted Nipple Repair Recovery
You will be admitted as a day case and will return home the same day.
Avoid strenuous activities such as lifting, aerobic exercise or jogging where the nipple area can be irritated or rubbed. You may have a little discomfort, but pain will not be severe.
After a week, your dressings are removed. The nipple will still be swollen or tender.
Use of moisturising creams is advised around the nipple area.
Swelling around the nipple will reduce. You will still have some crusting.
Most of the bruising and crusting around your nipple will be gone and swelling will continue to settle over the next few months.
Can one breast feed with inverted nipples?
Individuals with inverted nipples may find that their nipples protrude temporarily or permanently during pregnancy, or as a result of breastfeeding. Most women with inverted nipples who give birth are able to breastfeed without complication, but inexperienced mothers may experience higher than average pain and soreness when initially attempting to breastfeed. (Even women without inverted nipples may find breast feeding difficult at first). When a mother uses proper breastfeeding technique, the infant latches onto the areola, not the nipple, so some women with inverted nipples are actually able to breastfeed without issue. An infant that latches on well may be able to suck out an inverted nipple. The use of a breast pump or other suction device immediately before a feeding may help to draw out inverted nipples. A hospital grade electric pump may be used for this purpose. Some women also find that using a nipple shield can help facilitate breastfeeding.