An inverted nipple is a condition where the nipple retracts inwards in the breast instead of projecting outward. Women as well as men both can have inverted nipples. In women nipple has an important function of delivering breast milk to the child. It is also considered as an erogenous zone. At least 2 to 3 percent of women are known to suffer from this deformity.
This condition can have functional as well as emotional issue. Women who have inverted nipples find it difficult to breastfeed their child. Some women also feel embarrassed and low self esteemed especially during intimate relationship with their partner.
Inversion of nipples can be a temporary phenomenon or permanent depending on the cause. The inversion can occur in one or both the nipples. Depending on the grade of inversion here are several options available some of which may need corrective surgery while in many cases simple home measures can help to protrude the nipples.
What Are The Causes Of Inverted Nipples?
Nipples in women as well as men can retract later in life or since birth. It can be a structural defect during the development stage of nipple. Here are some of the important causes of inverted nipples:
- Infection in breast such as mastitis, breast abscess or blockage of milk glands.
- Breast cancer and Paget’s disease. The later disease is due to cancer of nipple or areola (the skin around nipple).
- Traumatic injury to nipple and breast. The milk duct which is attached to the nipple becomes short due to inflammation from trauma. As a result it forms into a scar tissue which retracts the nipple inwards. It can be a surgical trauma or simple traumatic injury to breast from outside.
- Sagging or drooping breast in later years of life can also cause retraction of nipples.
- In males gynecomastia (enlargement of breast).
- Frequent weight gain as well as loss.
Inverted Nipples Symptoms
Inverted nipples can be graded in three types. The grades depend on how easily nipple is pulled out.
- Many women suffer from grade 1 variety. Here the nipple projects out easily once it is stimulated or held between the thumb and index finger. The underlying milk ducts are not usually affected and as a result breastfeeding is easily possible.
- In grade 2 the inverted nipple is pooped out manually but as soon as pressure is released, it again retracts. Breastfeeding in grade 2 is difficult but not impossible. Slight manipulation may help the child to latch on and suck the breast.
- In grade 3 the nipple remains permanently inverted even after pressure on the areola and surrounding tissue. It cannot be pulled out manually. Milk duct is scarred and breastfeeding is not possible. Also women with grade 3 have related problems of rash and infection.
How To Make Inverted Nipples Pop Out?
There are several ways by which inverted nipple can be protruded. However, much of the outcome depends on the level of inversion. One such conservative method to pop up inverted nipple is simple and it is stimulating the nipple manually or mechanically with devices meant for it. But in most cases it is possible that the nipple may reverse back to its original position.
Piercing nipple is an effective technique where the nipple remains permanently popped up. A dumbbell shaped or ring shaped piercing prevents the nipple retract back due to mechanical reasons.
In grade 1 or grade 2 simple manual pressure and holding the areola between index finger and thumb will make the nipple to pop out. Once the nipple pops out, roll it between the thumb and forefinger as many times as you can.
If retraction of nipple is extreme and grade 3, plastic surgery may help the nipple to protrude out. But it involves severing of milk duct so that the nipple is released. But the only negative aspect of surgery is after the surgery breastfeeding becomes impossible permanently.