About 5-10% of women suffer from having inverted nipple breast. Most people are born this way and will notice effects of inverted nipple when trying to nurse their baby. Inverted nipples present no health risk and they are perfectly repairable. In severe cases, an inverted or retracted nipple may cause some discomfort due to lack of skin oils to moisturize the nipple; in this case most common problem would be dry nipple and areola with some irritation. Inverted nipple also may cause social anxiety as women may become self conscious during intimate situations.
Inverted nipples are those nipples that are retracted into the breast. There are three different grades of inversion, depending on their severity: the 1st grade which allows the woman to protract the nipple with a soft pressure applied on the areola; this kind of retraction has minimal fibrosis and no soft-tissue deficiency. The 2nd grade is little more complicated, as the nipple is not that easy to draw out as in the first case and tend to come back to its initial position. In the 3rd grade, the nipples are seriously retracted and it’s almost impossible to pull them out manually. There is a large quantity of fibrosis and the lactiferous ducts are very short and retracted. The good news is that all the three grades are repairable.
There are several methods by which women can repair their inverted nipples. Trying a breast pump or shields could be a solution, even if the last one is not recommended anymore after some studies have shown that it might affect breastfeeding. The breast pump puts some pressure on the areola zone and eventually breaks the connective tissues that hold the nipple retracted to release it forever.
Another type of inverted nipple correction is plastic surgery. Inverted nipple surgery mainly consists of the extraction of the nipples. The procedure maybe performed under local or general anesthesia.
There are three main approaches for inverted nipple correction, according to each grade of inversion. For the first one is not necessary an incision or a true operation; the doctor uses a pure-string suture technique. The nipple is manually drawn out and a nylon string is placed around its neck and hidden under the skin.
The 2nd grade requires a similar intervention only that this time the connective tissues are released and the lactiferous ducts are preserved. The fibrosis is also released a little, in order to enable the normal position of the nipple.
The most severe grade requires a complicated surgery that completely releases the fibrosis and often cuts the milk ducts. If generally speaking, breastfeeding with inverted nipples is hard, but not impossible, after an intervention similar to this one, it definitely becomes impracticable. A third grade inverted nipple surgery maybe covered by health insurance since it is mostly a reconstructive surgery.
As with any other surgery, most common risks are the infections, the re-inversion, some bleedings or tissue damage. However, before deciding what to do, women should ask their doctor advice and find out if breastfeeding with inverted nipples breast is possible or not.