Do inverted nipples hinder breastfeeding?

Just as people differ in height, weight and other body features, so are there significant differences in the aesthetic of nipples and breasts. The nipples and areola can all differ in size, shape and even colour from person to person. They can be flat, puffy or prominent, it is important to get to know your nipples so that you can notice if there are any changes that may need medical attention. Inverted nipples are fairly common in women around the world. Though not detrimental to health, they can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding as well as cause embarrassment or body issues for many women.

What do inverted nipples look like?

An inverted nipple will appear to be indented or sunken into your areola instead of standing above the surface of your breast. Because of their look, many women are unhappy with the appearance of their inverted nipples and often turn to store-bought devices for self-retraction. These devices may be able to encourage a mildly inverted nipple to appear everted, but these devices do not offer a not a long-term solution.

When are inverted nipples a problem?

There are no immediate health risks when it comes to inverted nipples. The only time that they can cause a problem is during breastfeeding. If your baby can take a good portion of your nipple into their mouth while latching onto the areola, then there is no need to worry. However, there are some cases of inverted nipples that make it harder for the baby to correctly latch onto at first. In these instances, it is vital that you pay careful attention to latch and positioning and with some patience, you should be able to breastfeed with no trouble. If you are not successful, then it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor who will be able to guide you and offer other solutions

What are the breast shells?

A breast shell is made out of plastic that is comprised of two pieces. The inner piece has a hole that fits over the nipple which puts pressure on the tissue, causing the nipple itself to protrude through the hole. Worn during pregnancy, breast shells have the potential to draw out inverted nipples by taking advantage of the increased elasticity of skin during this time. They can also be worn about half an hour before breastfeeding your child once it has been born.

How do I know if my nipples are inverted?

Simply looking at your nipples is not sufficient to determine whether they are inverted or not. A simple test that you can perform at home is by gently compressing your areola (the darker area around the nipple) about 2 – 3cm behind the nipple. If your nipple has the appearance of an inverted nipple but becomes erect during this ‘pinch’ test, then it is not truly inverted. However, if it does not become erect then it is considered to be a flat nipple. If the nipple retracts or becomes concave, then this would be considered an inverted nipple. True inverted or flat nipples will also not respond or become erect when stimulated or exposed to cold.

Surgical options

For those who are unhappy with the appearance of their nipples then there is a more permanent solution available for you. Dr John Flynn offers nipple correction surgery which helps with a number of problems including:

  • Enlarged nipples
  • Asymmetrical nipples
  • Protruding nipples
  • Inverted nipples

Dr Flynn has over two decades of experience in cosmetic surgery and his personal approach and commitment to natural-looking results have achieved an ever-growing list of satisfied patients. If you are considering nipple correction surgery then why not book a consultation with Dr Flynn who will be able to correctly assess your situation and give you different treatment options. Click here to book an appointment.