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What Is Inverted Nipple Surgery?

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
Inverted nipple surgery is a relatively simple procedure that takes no more than an hour.
Inverted nipple surgery is sometimes done for women with the hopes of breastfeeding successfully.
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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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Inverted nipple surgery is an outpatient procedure that is used to correct the condition of inverted nipples, which typically is caused by either a lack of ducts or a malformation of ducts inside the nipple that pull it inward. This surgery, normally categorized as plastic surgery, involves releasing the tissue inside the nipple that is retracted, allowing it to heal in an outward position. Inverted nipple surgery is considered a simple procedure, but it is not always a permanent solution.

Patients are offered three options for anesthesia when undergoing inverted nipple surgery: local anesthesia, intravenous sedation coupled with local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Following the administration of anesthesia, the surgeon will place the nipple in a projected state and make a small incision at the bottom of the nipple. The surgeon will then either spread the fibers inside the nipple that are causing the inversion or release them from the nipple itself so they can no longer pull it inward. The spreading of the fibers is done parallel to the milk ducts in order to preserve them.

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After the nipples are freely facing outward, the surgeon places three sets of dissolving sutures inside the nipple. The first set goes from top to bottom, the second set goes from side to side, and the third set goes around the entire base of the nipple to provide stability. The procedure usually takes no more than an hour, and patients typically are allowed to go home a few hours later. More complex surgeries might require that the patient stay at the medical facility overnight.

Recovery after inverted nipple surgery is relatively easy, with initial grogginess and soreness at the surgical site being the primary issues. Recovery times are different for every patient, but most are able to return to work one to two days later and resume their normal activities within two weeks. Mild to moderate swelling usually occurs two to three days following the procedure and can be expected to disappear in no longer than three weeks.

Other than cosmetic purposes, inverted nipple surgery is commonly undergone by women in the hopes of being able to breastfeed successfully. Most surgeons take great care to not harm the milk ducts during inverted nipple surgery, but damage to them is a risk. There also is a chance that, after time, the nipples will return to their inverted state. For these reasons, there is no guarantee that a woman undergoing inverted nipple surgery will be able to breastfeed successfully.

Mild inversion of the nipples sometimes can be treated with an at-home suction device that slowly draws out the nipple. Despite this, most people with this condition will need to undergo inverted nipple surgery in one or both nipples if they wish to correct it. This is a relatively simple procedure with a rapid recovery time and, more often than not, excellent results.

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