Medical Q&As

Inverted nipples - surgical repair?

What does surgical correction of inverted nipples involve?

Inverted nipples usually arise as a result of shortened milk ducts, which can have the effect of tethering the nipple and pulling it back into the breast tissue. When attempting to repair an inverted nipple the surgeon has a number of objectives. The first objective is to reshape the nipple and areola so that the nipple projects out from the breast. Secondly, it is desirable to maintain the sensitivity of the nipple and thirdly it may be desirable to leave the milk ducts intact so that the woman’s ability to breastfeed is preserved, should that be relevant to her situation. There are a number of techniques for performing this. The first technique involves making a circular incision around the areola and lifting the areola and nipple from the breast tissue, while still preserving connectedness to the milk ducts. A special purse string style of stitching is then used to give the nipple a projecting form. As healing proceeds the nipple projects a little further. This technique preserves the integrity of the milk duct system and means that the woman can breastfeed if she chooses to do so on a subsequent pregnancy. The second technique involves severing the milk ducts, which allows the nipple to project forward now that it is no longer tethered. In this latter situation breastfeeding is no longer possible since the milk ducts have been severed.