One in ten women have umbilicated nipples. Also called invaginated nipples, they are unsightly and can cause hang-ups in some women. They can also be a barrier to breastfeeding. Many women resort to cosmetic surgery to treat umbilical nipples and to restore their psychological and aesthetic well-being.
Umbilicated nipples: what are they?
The nipple is the opening in the middle of the areola of the breast that allows the milk to come out after pregnancy via the milk ducts. When these ducts are too short or curl back on themselves, the nipple goes back inside the breast. Umbilicated nipples are therefore nipples that are inverted. These nipples have the appearance of an umbilicus (or navel), hence their name.
All cases of umbilicated nipples do not have the same level of severity.
- Stage 1: the nipples stand out when the breasts are exposed to the cold or when stimulated by the slightest pressure. They remain on the outside for a few moments before retracting. Pregnancy can help to get them to pop out, making breastfeeding possible.
- Stage 2: The nipples emerge when subjected to repeated manual pulling and retract almost instantaneously.
- Stage 3: the nipples never pop out.
At Stages 1 and 2, the Niplette method can be employed. A small, thimble-shaped mould sucks on the nipple and pulls it out. After a few weeks of continuous use, the nipple can remain properly erect at all times. This is ideal for women who have difficulty breastfeeding. However, if the woman has some hang-ups about them, she may consider surgery to unobstruct the nipple permanently.
At stage 3, it is absolutely necessary to operate because invagination of the nipple is being caused by the retraction of the milk ducts which must be cut.
What are the causes of umbilicated nipples?
Umbilical nipples are most often due to milk ducts that are too short and which pull the nipple inwards. The milk ducts are the channels that transport and secrete milk during breastfeeding.
However, there are other factors for women with invaginated nipples:
- Congenital: in this case, the invaginated nipple is there from birth. They can also appear during adolescence when the breasts are developing.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding may result in reduced breast volume.
The nipple will then invert.
- When breast ptosis or a loosening of the breasts occurs over time.
- When a cancer or tumour is present behind the nipple, especially when only one of the two breasts has an inverted nipple. If this is the case, only a mammogram can confirm or invalidate the diagnosis.
- Due to the after-effects of a previous cosmetic surgery procedure.
- Finally, it could be a genetic anomaly but this factor is still quite rare.
What treatments are available for umbilicated nipples?
When you have umbilical nipples, cosmetic surgery can offer you a solution to help you restore your physical and psychological well-being. Your surgeon can carry out a debridement procedure on the invaginated nipples.
This operation makes it possible for the nipples to pop out by cutting the milk ducts that keep them on the inside.