Inverted Nipple Repair

Matthew C Camp, MD
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Inverted nipples are frequently encountered in our clinic during breast surgery. Many people are unaware that this condition can be easily treated, often at the same time as the main breast surgery.

What is an Inverted Nipple?  An inverted nipple occurs when the nipple, instead of pointing outward, retracts inward
into the breast. This condition can be present from birth (congenital) or develop later in
life (acquired). Common causes include:

    1. Congenital Factors: Some individuals are born with short milk ducts or connective tissue tethering the nipple inward.

    1. Trauma or Surgery: Scar tissue from previous surgeries or injuries can pull the nipple inward.


    1. Infection or Inflammation: Conditions such as mastitis or subareolar abscesses can lead to nipple inversion.

    1. Breastfeeding: Changes in the breast tissue from breastfeeding can sometimes cause nipple retraction.

    1. Breast Cancer: Although rare, inverted nipples can be a sign of underlying breast cancer and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Treatment Options:
If the nipples do not respond to non-surgical approaches, such as nipple stimulation (gentle pulling and massage) and protection with breast shields, a minor surgery can correct the problem.

Surgical Treatment:
This procedure can be performed with the patient awake or under anesthesia. A numbing medicine is injected with a very fine needle, and a small incision is made under the nipple to release the adherent scar tissue and lactiferous ducts. A temporary barbell
piercing is placed to keep the nipple everted; this can be removed after a couple of weeks. This modern technique is superior to older methods, which required more extensive dissection of the nipple and the use of a suture attached to a tent dressing. The older dressing method was irritating and poorly tolerated. The current technique is comparable to getting a piercing in terms of discomfort. Recovery is straightforward, and the results are permanent.

In summary, inverted nipples can be effectively treated with minimal discomfort and lasting results, often during the same session as other breast surgeries. Come into our clinic to see what we can do for you! Consultations are no charge.