21 May, 2019 •
Inverted nipples are common and affect around 20% of the population.
So, what causes an inverted nipple?
They are usually a result of an undeveloped, short, or thickened lactiferous duct or ‘milk duct’. They form a branched system that connects the nipple to the mammary gland. When these milk ducts are shortened, they pull on the nipple and cause it to retract inwards. Inverted nipples are usually genetic.
A nipple can be temporarily inverted and can reverse itself with stimulation or changes in temperature. Or a nipple can be permanently inverted.
There are three grades of nipple inversion
Grade 1: The nipple can be pulled out and easily maintain projection.
Grade 2: The nipple can be pulled out but can’t maintain projection.
Grade 3: The nipple can’t be pulled out.
If your nipples are inverted there are some steps, you can do to try and correct the inversion.
Nipple piercings to correct inverted nipples
Getting your nipple pierced can sometimes correct an inverted nipple – the jewellery will help stretch the ducts and keep your nipple in an erect position. This isn’t always permanent, and the nipples will usually retract once the piercing is removed. Additionally, the trauma of the piercing may create additional scar tissue that which may make the inversion worse.
Surgery to correct inverted nipples
If bling is not your thing and you want a more permanent option, then you may need to consider surgery. Depending on the degree of inversion the surgeon may cut around the milk ducts or they may need to cut through the milk ducts. If the milk ducts are cut it will impact on your ability to breastfeed.
Can breast implants fix inverted nipples?
Yes! Depending on the degree of inversion, the implant may push and stretch the nipple into an erect position.
How does pregnancy affect inverted nipples?
Breastfeeding may be more difficult because the baby might have difficulty latching on to the nipple despite the milk ducts working properly. But, good news, pregnancy may reverse nipple inversion!
Although an inverted nip isn’t dangerous. If you have a nipple that suddenly inverts for no reason be sure to visit your doctor – in rare cases this may be a sign of breast cancer.
- Nurse Justine