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Inverted (Retracted) Nipples

While having inverted nipples is extremely common, it can be a source of embarrassment and frustration for those who have them. Approximately 10–25 percent of women are born with this condition, which can affect one or both breasts. 

Inverted nipples are the result of shortened or scarred milk ducts that attach the breast tissue to the nipple and, as a result, pull the nipple inward. Causes of nipple inversion vary and may include infection, prior breastfeeding, trauma with resultant scarring, massive weight loss and pregnancy. Women should see their primary care physician or a board-certified plastic surgeon for newly onset nipple inversion to evaluate for a possible cancerous cause.  

Nipple inversion has three grades. Grade 1 (sometimes called “shy nipples”) is the least severe. Grade 3 nipple inversion occurs when the nipple is severely retracted and cannot be released without significant force.  

If you have Grade 2 or Grade 3 nipple inversion, a relatively low-risk, in-office procedure is available. With the patient under local anesthetic, the physician releases the shortened and scarred ducts to allow the nipple to correct itself. Patients experience minimal downtime and often regain their confidence after having the procedure.  

You should also consider that you may not be able to breastfeed after this procedure and recurrence, although rare, is possible. Please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lefkowitz if you would like an evaluation.  




American Society of Plastic Surgeons


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