Inverted Nipple Correction
Inverted nipples are usually evident as a slit or hole in the breast at the location of the nipple and may be present on one or both sides.
Inverted nipples are usually a congenital problem but may be related to scarring from breast-feeding or infection in the ducts, or a previous breast surgery. Nipple inversion can cause functional problems such as irritation, rash and discomfort and may prevent the ability to breast-feed.
Correction is sought most often because it is a cosmetically undesirable condition and women simply do not like the way it looks and want it improved.
There are two techniques to correct inverted nipples – one that leaves the milk ducts intact and one where the milk ducts need to be divided.
In either case, the objective is to reshape the nipple and areola so that the nipple projects out from the breast, enhancing the appearance of the breast while preserving sensitivity of the nipple.
The technique that leaves the milk ducts intact can also help preserve a woman’s ability to breastfeed. However the re-inversion rate is much higher as inverted nipple nipples can often be caused by short milk ducts pulling the nipple inwards.
- Milk Ducts Intact – The procedure can be done under local anaesthesia. An incision will be made just around the base of the nipple on the areola. The nipple and areola tissue is lifted from (but still connected to) the breast and stitched into a new, projecting shape utilising a purse-string style of suturing (stitches). Because of the circular shape of the scar around the nipple, scar contracture will actually increase rather than decrease nipple projection.
- Milk Ducts Divided – This procedure is much more common and may be necessary in more difficult cases. Your doctor will apply local anaesthetic. An incision is made at the nipple base, and the shortened milk ducts are detached, allowing a natural-looking projection of the nipple. The incision is sutured closed and medicated gauze is applied to the site.
Recovery is very rapid with a return to work and most activities within hours. Showers are permitted the next day but patients must keep their dressings as dry. The sutures will be removed in 4 to 7 days.
There is minimal pain or swelling. Sensation is normal immediately or returns fully within several days.