I noticed after I stopped breast feeding my son at 18 months, he's now almost 3, that my right nipple became inverted. I can, with very little help, get it out again. However it usually goes back inwards again. It doesn't hurt or anything, but I am wondering if this is something I need to worry about. I am 31 years old. Thanks in advance.
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Nipple inversion can be corrected
Nipple inversion is caused by fibrous smooth muscle bands that cause the nipple to retract. Nipple inversion can be corrected by a relatively simple surgical procedure where a small incision is made at the base of the nipple and the bands are released using a small scissors. The release is much like popping a guitar string. The only problem with doing this procedure at your age is the possibility of not being able to breast feed afterwards.
A true inverted nipple is one that does NOT come out at all with stimulation. It sounds like yours comes out. There is a fairly simple procedure that can be done where the bands that are tethering your nipple and pulling it in are cut and the nipple is thereby released. I often do this under local anesthesia in my office. The downside is that it may interfere or eliminate your ability to breast feed in the future. A recurrence of the inverted nipple is also a possibility.
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Although nipple inversion is a common issue, evaluation by a physician is warranted to ensure that it is not caused by an abnormality within your breast, most worrisome, a malignancy of your breast. Given your history of spontaneous eversion without difficulty and without other signs or symptoms, your instance is likely a benign finding. A simple procedure to correct and evert your nipple is possible if you so desired. However, I would wait until breast feeding and childbearing is completed. Certainly, if it continues to progress, fails to evert with manipulation, or there is any drainage/bleeding, an examination with likely further imaging studies should be conducted urgently. Hope that this helps! Good luck!
Nipple Inversion Thoughts...
Thank you for the question.
It would be in your best interest to see a physician for consultation; although rare, nipple inversion can be a sign of malignancy of the breast.
Inverted nipples can cause functional problems for women and emotional concerns. An inverted nipple can look flat or a slit like depression or hole at the normal nipple location. There are different degrees of inverted nipples possible. Whether a patient is a candidate for correction of inverted nipples depends on the extent of the problem.
Usually correction of the inverted nipples involve division of the lactiferous (milk ducts). The risks of the procedure include potential loss of sensation, inability to breast-feed, recurrence of the asymmetry and the potential need for further surgery.
My advice to patients go something like this... If the nipple is permanently inverted and does not evert with stimulation, then it is a useless nipple when it comes to sensitivity and/or breast-feeding. In these cases correction of inversion is indicated (because the potential gains outweigh the risks outlined above). On the other hand, if the nipple does evert spontaneously with or without stimulation, then I am more reluctant to perform the procedure given that the risks may outweigh the potential benefits. At that point, the decision is the patient's to make after careful consideration.
I hope this helps.
Inverted nipples are quite common and typically are not an issue. If this has been present for a while and easily can be everted then it is probably fine. It can be easily "released" under local anesthesia in the office if you would like it repaired, but I would suggest you wait until after you are done having children and breast feeding.
Not to alarm you, but in rare cases a new nipple inversion may be caused by a tumor beneath the nipple. If you do not feel any masses you should be fine. If you are really uncertain and still concerned, a breast surgeon or plastic surgeon can evaluate this for you.