A woman may base much of her confidence in her appearance on her breasts, so when there is a cosmetic issue, it can significantly impact a woman’s self-esteem. One common concern is an irregularity known as an inverted nipple, which leads to nipples that do not point in an outward direction. The problem does not usually pose a medical concern, but can create embarrassment for a woman that doesn’t feel her body looks quite right.
In addition to affecting appearance, severe cases of inverted nipple can make breastfeeding more challenging for some women. If you become self-conscious about inverted nipples, it can also interfere with intimacy with your partner and your self-confidence in your body overall. Dr. Barrett and his team at Barrett Plastic Surgery understand the cosmetic embarrassment of inverted nipples and offer office procedure to reverse the direction of the nipple and create a more aesthetically pleasing look to the breasts.
What is Inverted Nipple?
Inverted nipple is an irregularity in which a woman’s nipples point more inwards than outwards. It may be noticeable from childhood or develop over time and results from breast tissue that pinches the base of the nipple, limiting stretch and movement. The constriction may be caused by shortened milk ducts, a reduction in breast tissue (usually after pregnancy), or a combination of the two. Inverted nipples are not typically considered a health hazard, but they can be cosmetically embarrassing, reducing a woman’s quality of life in some situations. Fortunately, there are ways to correct this issue and create a nipple that points outward once again.
How is it Treated?
Nipple inversion repair also referred to as nipple correction surgery, is a cosmetic option designed for men and women to correct inverted, shy, enlarged or extended nipples. While inverted nipple can affect both men and women, women are more likely to seek treatment because their nipples will often invert during breastfeeding, making this process more challenging in some cases. An outpatient surgical procedure is typically all that is required to reverse the inversion and create a normal appearance to the nipple. Surgery is generally the only way to achieve permanent correction for nipple inversion.
Is Inverted Nipple Repair Right for You?
The severity of their condition often determines inverted nipple surgery candidates. Physicians often utilize a three-point scale to assess the severity of the inversion and determine whether surgical treatment is necessary and would adequately resolve the issue.
Level 1: This is the least severe type of inversion and patients with this stage are often referred to as having “shy” nipples. At this level, nipples may often be found in the inverted position, but will readily protrude outwards when they are exposed to cold temperatures or tactile stimulation.
Level 2: In this moderate level of inversion, the nipples are nearly always in an inverted position. However, they can be forced under vigorous stimulation or suction to protrude outward. The protrusion is usually temporary and short-lived.
Level 3: This is considered the severe level of nipple inversion. Nipples are highly constricted from the surrounding tissue, which prevents outward projection even with strong suction or stimulation. Severe cases are the most common level at which patients seek surgical treatment, although some patients with level two inversion may also consider correction.
At your initial consultation, Dr. Barrett will determine your level of inversion as criteria for surgical treatment. He will also discuss your specific concerns and desired outcome before recommending surgery to provide permanent correction for the issue.
How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon
Although nipple inversion correction is a simple procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis, your choice of a plastic surgeon will determine the success and longevity of your result. Dr. Barrett has extensive experience in all types of breast revision surgeries, including inverted nipple repair, and will carefully select the best technique for you based on the severity of your inversion and other personal factors.
Options in Inverted Nipple Repair
Based on the level of inversion, Dr. Barrett may perform your corrective surgery in one of two ways:
During this procedure, Dr. Barrett will release the nipple while leaving at least a portion of the milk ducts intact. Constriction will be reversed by stretching or spreading the fibers rather than severing them. This approach can be used for less severe types of inversion and will likely preserve a woman’s ability to breastfeed.
In the most severe cases of nipple inversion, it may not be possible to preserve the connection of the milk ducts to the nipple. While this approach does not allow a woman to breastfeed after the surgery, it may be the only way to achieve an excellent cosmetic result when the inversion is substantial.
Dr. Barrett will weigh your options carefully, only opting for the detached-duct technique when necessary to achieve a satisfactory aesthetic outcome. He will also discuss your choices at your initial consultation, so you have input into the decision-making process as well.
No matter which technique is used for your inverted nipple correction, Dr. Barrett will perform the procedure in his office using local anesthesia. Incisions are placed inside of the areola so that visible scarring after the treatment is minimal. Through the incisions, Dr. Barrett either stretches or severs the fibers of the milk duct to release the nipple and create an outward protrusion. Sutures will also be strategically placed to ensure the nipple continues to protrude after surgery. Incisions will be meticulously closed and a dressing place over the area. Most patients are out of our office within a couple of hours to recover comfortably at home.
After Your Inverted Nipple Repair
The recovery process is relatively quick, lasting just one to three days. Some minor swelling and bruising may occur, but discomfort is easily controlled with over-the-counter pain medication for the first day or two. Patients will usually feel like resuming their regular daily activity one to two days following inversion correction. Dr. Barrett will see you after your procedure to ensure your healing process is progressing smoothly and to avert any possible complications before they become a problem.
When performed by an experienced, capable plastic surgeon, the results of nipple inversion surgery can last a lifetime. Women that have this procedure performed are excited to find their confidence improves as their appearance is enhanced. If you would like to learn more about this surgery or find out if nipple inversion correction is right for you, contact Barrett Plastic Surgery today at 310-598-2648.