I am 27 years old and have no children. I have always had grade 3 inverted nipples; they never protrude even manually. First, I would like to know with my inverted nipples would I likely be able to breastfeed. Second, is there any way to correct my nipples so they will protrude while possibly maintaining the ability to breastfeed and my sensitivity? If so, what are these techniques. Pictures attached. Thank you in advance for your help and thoughts.
Is There Any Way to Correct my Grade 3 Inverted Nipples While Possibly Maintaining the Ability to Breastfeed and my Sensitivity?
Doctor Answers (3)
Correction of inverted nipples
Nipple inversion is caused by fibrous smooth muscle bands that cause the nipple to retract. Many women with nipple inversion are able to breast feed. 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. Care is exercised not to cut the lactiferous ducts. This is not always possible. The release is much like popping a guitar string. The only problem with doing this procedure is the possibility of not being able to breast feed afterwards.
Correction of Inverted Nipples While Maintaining Sensitivity and Ability to Breastfeed
Thank you for your question. It is possible for women to feed with inverted nipples but you may have more difficulties than if your nipples were not inverted. While some sources say that women who have grade 3 nipple inversion cannot breastfeed I understand that breast feeding can be possible with adequate support and persistence. That said, I think it would be preferable to correct your inversion if this can be done without dividing the ducts or altering your nipple sensitivity.
Surgical treatment of inverted nipples can definitely lead to alterations in nipple sensation and all surgery carries risks and costs. There is a suction device available (the Avent Niplette) that can treat nipple inversion without surgery. It is more likely to be effective in women who have nipples that can be encouraged to evert (with stimulation or pressure), and in women who are willing to persist using the device. It's a discreet device that can be worn during the daytime within a padded bra or at night time within a crop top.
If the non-surgical treatment does not work there are different types of surgery available for inverted nipples. If you pursue the surgical pathway but wish to try to retain as much sensation as possible I would recommend the least invasive surgical procedure combined with use of the suction device post operatively. If you wish to breast feed it is important that the technique used does not divide (cut) the ducts.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
[Disclaimer: I have no commercial association or interest in the Avent Niplette device]
Nipple Inversion Correction and Risks?
Thank you for the question.
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.
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.