Inverted nipples


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Understanding the nipple and its functions

Nipples are raised tissues present on the breasts. They are located in the center of a darkened area of the skin on the breast called the areola. The primary function of the nipple is to secrete milk in a process called lactation. Due to this reason, the nipples in males are considered to be vestigial.

Nipples are sensitive to touch and their stimulation leads to sexual arousal. Some women also reach orgasm when their nipples are stimulated. The stimulation of nipples also leads to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that plays a role in bonding.

Nipples come in many shapes and sizes. However, the following are considered the most common types of nipples

  • Protruding: These types of nipples are more slightly raised than the average nipple. Changes in temperature (cold) and stimulation can make the nipples even more raised.
    Flat: These nipples are at the same level as the areola. Flat nipples may or may not protrude in response to coldness or stimulation.
  • Puffy: In this type, the whole areola appears raised on top of the breast
  • Bumpy: Some women have small bumps on their areola. These look like whiteheads and are called Montgomery glands. All women have these glands but they are usually more noticeable during pregnancy. However, in some women, these glands always pronounced.
  • Hairy: All women have hair follicles in the areola. However, some women’s nipples have more hair than others.
  • Supernumerary: Some people have more than two nipples. They usually appear on the chest near the two normal nipples. These extra nipples do not cause any problems.
  • Inverted: These are nipples that are retracted. To know more about inverted nipples keep reading below.

What are inverted nipples?

This is a condition where the nipples turn inward into the breast instead of protruding. This condition can occur in one or both the breasts. Although it is more common in women, men can have it too.

Sometimes the nipples temporarily invert due to changes in the temperature or other factors. But in some people, the nipples permanently invert. This can happen due to a congenital condition or due to disease or trauma. In some cases, the nipples are inverted but become erect with stimulation. In other cases, the nipples cannot be made to protrude.

If you have had inverted nipples all your life, then it is usually harmless (although they make breastfeeding difficult). However, if you develop them after a certain age, it may be a sign of a more serious health concern.

Many babies, both males, and females are born with inverted nipples. However, as they grow older, the nipples start sticking out. In some children, the nipples only begin to protrude after puberty.

Difference between flat and inverted nipples

Flat nipples are those that are not raised or inverted. They usually appear evenly on the areola. Flat nipples also usually don’t respond to temperature or stimuli. However, flat nipples generally protrude during pregnancy. This is one of the main differences between flat and inverted nipples. Inverted nipples are also more difficult to protrude compared to flat nipples.

If you want to know whether you have a flat or an inverted nipple, you can find out by following these steps

  • Place your index finger and thumb on the edge of the areola
  • Apply gentle pressure
  • If your nipples protrude then you have flat nipples. If it retracts into the breast then you have inverted nipples.

Are inverted nipples a sign of cancer?

If you are born with inverted nipples then there is nothing to be worried about as that is not a sign of cancer. Sometimes nipple inversion also happens as you grow older. However, if you suddenly notice an inverted nipple it may be due to cancer. In order to confirm you can look for the following signs

  • A lump in the breast
  • Changes in size or appearance of the breast
  • Changes on the skin of the breast
  • Peeling or scaling on the areola.

Causes

An inverted nipple may result due to several reasons ranging from a congenital condition to a trauma. Here are some of the reasons that may cause this condition.

  • Genes: Inverted nipples are often genetic and it is caused due to a thickened, short or underdeveloped lactiferous duct, which connects the breast gland to the nipple. When these ducts are short and thick, they cause the nipples to retract inwards.
  • Injury: If you have injured your breast, you may develop inverted nipples.

Paget’s disease of the breast: This is a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple and areola. You may also experience the following symptoms if you are suffering from this disease:

  • Dryness in the breast
  • Flaky skin
  • Itching
  • Redness

Breast cancer: Nipple retraction can also happen due to a common type of breast cancer known as Nipple retraction may occur when the tumor is large enough to be seen on a mammogram.

  • Aging: Nipple inversion may also be due to aging. Retractions can slowly appear as you gradually grow old.

Grades of nipple inversions

Inverted nipples are graded by doctors into three levels:

  • Grade 1: In this grade, the nipples automatically protrude when the person feels cold or is sexually aroused. They can also be pulled out manually.
  • Grade 2: Nipples falling in this grade do not protrude when the person feels cold or is sexually aroused. They can be pulled out manually but not as easily as grade 1 nipples. They also invert very quickly when pulled out manually.
  • Grade 3: Nipples in this grade do not protrude in response to any stimuli. They are also very difficult to pull out manually.

Know your grade of nipple inversion

Many people are unaware of the grade of their nipple inversion. You can determine that by following the steps below:

  • Stand in front of a mirror and apply ice on your nipple. If it comes out, it means you have a grade 1 inversion.
  • If it doesn’t protrude, try to manually take out the nipple. If it comes out but retracts quickly then you have a grade 2 inversion. If you are unable to bring it out, you have a grade 3 inversion.

You may have different inversion grades in each nipple

Can people with nipple inversions breastfeed?

People with inverted nipples often find it difficult to breastfeed as the baby is unable to properly latch on to the nipple.

However, there are certain devices or methods you can use to help you bring the nipple out. These are

  • Hoffman technique: This involves the manual stimulation of the nipples to help it protrude
  • Nipple shields: They are flexible silicone nipples that are worn over the actual nipple. It helps the baby latch on better.
  • Breast shields: These are devices that put pressure on the breasts to help the nipples protrude.

Treatment

If you want a temporary solution for inverted nipples, you can do the following things

Hoffman technique

Introduced by Dr. J Brooks Hoffman, this technique is a manual exercise that helps treat inverted nipples. This technique involves the following steps

  • Place your thumbs on either side of the nipple (at the base of the nipple and not the areola)
  • After that apply gentle but firm pressure to the nipples
  • While pressing, pull your thumb away from each other
  • Repeat the first three steps while moving the nipple upward and downward and then sideways

At first, this method should be done twice a day. After that, you can do it five times a day. If you practice this exercise regularly, your nipples will start protruding more often. However, as every person has different types of nipples, it may not work for everybody.

Suction devices

These devices (aka nipple retractors, nipple extractors, shells and cups) reverse inverted nipples with the help of suction. These are usually worn under the bra for extended periods of time.  These devices work by pulling the nipple into a small cup through gentle suction. When used regularly over long periods, the nipple remains erect longer as nipple tissue loosens.

Nipple piercing

Many people get nipple piercings to correct inverted nipples. The stud or jewelry worn in the piercing does not allow the nipple to retract. However, once the stud is removed, the nipple is likely to retract and due to this reason, piercing is also considered to be a temporary solution.  Be careful to visit a good piercing studio if you’re planning to get your nipples pierced. Unsterilized needles or piercing guns may cause infection and leave to sepsis.

Surgery

The only way to permanently treat a retracted nipple is via surgery. There are two types of procedures available:

Parachute flap technique:

In this procedure, the milk ducts are partially preserved. This means that women undergoing this procedure will be able to lactate if they do decide to have a baby in the future. The nipple sensation after doing this procedure will also remain the same.

This procedure is carried out in the following steps

  • The patient is given local anesthesia and after a while, the surgeon will make an incision around the base of the nipple.
  • The nipple and the areola are then both lifted and sewn into a more protruding angle.
  • The incision is then closed with stitches.

Surgery with detached milk ducts:

This procedure, as the name suggests, involves the removal of the whole milk duct. As a result, women who undergo this procedure cannot breastfeed in the future. This is done in the following steps:

  • The patient is given local anesthesia and after a while, the surgeon will make an incision around the base of the nipple.
  • The milk ducts are then removed and this makes the nipples naturally protrude.
  • The incision is then closed with stitches.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • You should try using natural techniques before considering surgery for nipple inversions
  • You should use the Hoffman technique regularly if you have grade 1 inversions
  • You should consult the doctor if your nipple suddenly retracts
Don'ts
  • Panic if you have inverted nipples as it most cases its harmless
  • Consider undergoing the surgery with detached milk ducts if you’re planning on getting pregnant
  • Lose heart if you have retracted nipples as it is more common than you think

 

 

 

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Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
Is it possible to achieve full body detox with Master Cleanse? Master cleanse is a diet consisting of a lemonade based beverage, a salt water drink and a herbal…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
cardioliin antibody iga
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) – IgA test Cardiolipins are phospholipids that are constituents of the platelets and the cell membranes. The IgA test detects the…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
BULIMIA NERVOSA vomiting
Can you get addicted to food? Learn everything about food addiction What is food addiction? How can people get addicted to eating? Is it an unhealthy eating habit or…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…

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