Learn everything about your treatment
Learn everything about your treatment
30 to 120 minutes
Usually local anaesthetic is used, sometimes general anaesthetic is used
Nipple Correction Overview
What is a nipple correction?
A nipple correction is a type of breast surgery that aims to correct nipple inversion. It is important to have a good understanding of the procedure before you have your surgery. This nipple correction overview page will give you a general introduction to the surgery.
Nipple inversion, which can also be called nipple retraction or invaginated nipple, is a condition where the nipple is either flat or is pulled in towards the breast. It is a very common condition that occurs in around 1 out of 10 men and women.
It is often due to the milk ducts in the nipple being too short. These short milk ducts pull the nipple in, therefore not allowing it to protrude out naturally. This happens gradually and is often present since puberty since this is when the majority of breast changes occur. It can be present in one or both nipples.
What can a nipple correction surgery achieve?
An inverted nipple correction aims to correct the nipple so that it projects out in a natural way. To achieve this, your surgeon will either stretch the short milk ducts or cut them. This releases the tension that is pulling the nipple in, therefore allowing it to protrude out again.
Having a nipple correction can help boost self-esteem in patients, particularly when they are in intimate situations.
Why choose a BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon?
It is vital that you choose your surgeon carefully before having your nipple correction procedure. The BAAPS (The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) societies are the two leading British associations for plastic surgeons.
At Medbelle, all of our surgeons are members of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS. We strive to only work with the UK’s most experienced surgeons to ensure that all of our patients receive the highest quality of care.
Nipple correction candidates
Why have nipple inversion surgery?
Although it is painless, nipple inversion can be a distressing condition that can affect self-esteem by making the breasts look distorted. It may also be an issue for women who are trying to breastfeed. This is because the baby may not be able to latch on to flat or inverted nipples to draw the milk out of the breasts. The ideal nipple correction candidates would therefore include those who are:
- Seeing little to no improvement using a non-surgical approach such as the Niplette device.
- Becoming distressed or self-conscious because of their nipple inversion.
- Having difficulty nursing their baby.
- Wanting an effective treatment with long-lasting results.
Nipple inversion grades
Nipple inversion can affect patients to different extents. There are different grades of nipple inversion depending on its severity. Your surgeon will examine you during your consultation to determine which grade of nipple inversion you have. The 3 grades are as follows:
Grade 1 (mild)
- The mildest form of nipple inversion
- This can also be called “shy” nipple
- Nipples may be flat or slightly inverted
- The nipples evert in response to stimuli such as touch or temperature
- Nipple protrusion remains for some time before they return back to their inverted state.
Grade 2 (moderate)
- The nipples are slightly more inverted than grade 1
- They will evert with manipulation but will immediately return to their inverted state when manipulation stops.
Grade 3 (severe)
- This is the most severe form of nipple inversion
- There is complete inversion of the nipples
- Stimuli will not evert the nipples.
The grade of your nipple inversion may influence the surgical technique your surgeon chooses to use. Our medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons will always choose the technique that will work best for your nipples.
Nipple correction procedure
How is a nipple correction procedure performed?
A nipple correction procedure is a relatively simple surgery to perform. It often lasts between 30 to 120 minutes depending on the severity of the inversion.
A nipple correction procedure involves the following steps:
1. Consent form
You will meet your surgeon to sign a consent form before the procedure. This will be done either on the day of your surgery, or during your pre-operative assessment a week before.
As this is a simple procedure, your surgeon will give you a local anaesthetic, with or without IV (intravenous sedation). In some cases however, it may be more preferable to use a general anaesthetic. Your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will discuss which anaesthetic they will use during your first consultation.
Your surgeon will make a small incision at the base of the nipple to gain access to the milk ducts that are pulling the nipple inwards. The different techniques your surgeon can use depend on the severity of the nipple inversion, and include the following:
Mild to moderate nipple inversion
In patients with mild to moderate nipple inversion, the surgeon can “stretch” the short milk ducts, therefore pulling the nipple outwards. Your surgeon will lift the nipple and areola from the breast, stretching them and then suturing the nipples into their new position.
As this method only stretches the milk ducts and does not cut them, it should not affect your ability to breastfeed. However, this technique does carry a higher risk of nipple inversion recurrence.
Moderate to severe nipple inversion
If your nipple inversion is more severe, your surgeon may choose to cut, or divide, the milk ducts. When the surgeon cuts the milk ducts, it releases the tension that is pulling the nipple inwards. Because the milk ducts are cut, this technique will affect your ability to breastfeed. You may lose the ability to breastfeed entirely. There is however, a much lower risk of nipple inversion recurrence.
After your surgeon stretches or cuts the milk ducts, they will use stitches to secure the nipple in its new projected position. Your surgeon will discuss with you which incision is best to use for your nipples.
4. Closing of incisions
Your surgeon will use stitches to close the incision. They will then apply a protective dressing to the nipple to prevent it from retracting again.
5. Return to the ward
The surgical staff will take you back to the ward to recover from the procedure and should be able to return home the same day.
Nipple correction consultation
What should I expect during my nipple correction consultation?
Your nipple correction consultation will usually last between 15 minutes to 1 hour. During this consultation, you will be able to talk to your surgeon about all aspects of the surgery. Your surgeon will discuss the following with you:
- Why you want to have nipple correction surgery
- What you would like to achieve from surgery
- Any past or future surgeries
- Current and past medical conditions or allergies you may have
- Any personal or family history of breast cancer
- The current medications, vitamins or herbal supplements you are taking
- Your alcohol, tobacco and drug use
After your surgeon has taken your medical history, they will then examine your nipples. They will then discuss which technique would be best to use. When deciding which technique to use, they will consider:
- The cause of your nipple inversion
- The grade/degree of your nipple inversion
Questions to ask during your nipple correction consultation
There are some important questions you should ask your surgeon during your nipple correction consultation. These include:
- Do you think that what I want to achieve from surgery is realistic?
- Can I see before and after pictures of similar operations you have done?
- Will I be able to breastfeed if I have this procedure done?
- Where will my scars be?
Your medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will be able to answer all the questions you may have. Your consultation time is your chance to be as honest as possible with your surgeon about what you would like to achieve from surgery.
When should you not book a nipple correction consultation?
Nipple inversion is usually a condition that develops slowly over time. It is often present from puberty. If however, your nipple inverts suddenly, or there is a sudden change to your nipple inversion, you should arrange to see your GP. This is because a sudden nipple inversion may be due to an underlying problem such as an inflammatory condition or cancer, and needs to be investigated urgently.
Nipple correction risks & complications
What are the main nipple correction risks and complications?
It is important to be well informed about the nipple correction risks and complications. Your surgeon will discuss these with you during your consultation.
The nipple correction risks and complications include the following:
Inability to breastfeed
Depending on the type of surgical technique your surgeon uses, your ability to breastfeed may reduce or be lost completely. Your surgeon will however, try their best to conserve as many milk ducts as possible. Because a nipple correction can affect your ability to breastfeed, your surgeon will usually advise that you complete your family before having your procedure.
As surgery requires your surgeon to make surgical incisions, scarring is unavoidable. Your scars should be minimal and will fade over time. The severity of your scarring does however, also depends on the ability of your skin to heal. Some patients are at risk of developing more severe scarring such as hypertrophic or keloid scars. Most patients will already be aware if they are likely to develop these types of scars.
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that can develop under the skin’s surface. It usually develops below the incision line, and is usually mild. It will often resolve on its own but in some cases, your surgeon may have to drain the fluid out.
Numbness or loss of nipple sensation
Some patients may experience alterations in their nipple sensation. This can either be an increase in nipple sensitivity (oversensitivity), a reduction in nipple sensitivity (numbness) or nipple pain. Any changes in nipple sensation are usually temporary and should settle within a few months. It is possible for these changes to become permanent, although this is very rare.
Infection is a risk that comes with any surgery. In most cases, these are mild wound infections that settle down with antibiotic treatment. If however, the infection becomes more severe, you may need to have further surgery.
It is important to be aware of the signs of an infection. You should tell your surgeon if you experience any of the following:
- A temperature of 38° C or over
- Redness and/or swelling at the incision site that worsens over time
- Pus-like or foul smelling discharge coming from the incision or the drain sites
- Increasing pain that is not relieved by pain medication
It is important to be aware that you may be unhappy with the aesthetic results of your nipple correction surgery. For example, you may not be happy with the size, shape or symmetry of your nipples. To reduce the risk of disappointment, you should make sure your surgeon understands your expectations.
After a nipple correction, there is a chance that your nipples may invert again. If this does occur, it is likely to happen in the first few days to weeks after your surgery. The chance of this happening also depends on the technique your surgeon chooses to use. A technique that stretches the milk ducts as opposed to cutting them carries a higher risk of nipple re-inversion.
If your nipples do re-invert, your surgeon will discuss your treatment options with you. This may include needing to have further corrective surgery.
During your surgery, the blood supply to the nipples, skin or tissues may be lost. If this does occur, the affected area (such as the nipple), may die. This is called ‘necrosis’. It is a rare complication. If it does develop, you will need to have further surgery to remove the dead tissue (surgical debridement).
Bleeding & bruising
It is very common to experience some bleeding and bruising after your procedure. This usually occurs straight after surgery, and should settle down over time. The bleeding and bruising is often mild, but in some cases it can be more severe. Large amounts of bleeding may result in the development of a blood clot under the skin (haematoma).
If you notice a large amount of bleeding or bruising, or if it is increasing over time, you must notify your surgeon. You may need to have further surgery to correct this. If your surgeon treats this promptly, it is unlikely to affect the outcome of your surgery.
It is important to choose an experienced BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon. This reduces the risk of these complications occurring.
Nipple correction preparation
How can I prepare for an inverted nipple correction?
It is important to prepare well for your inverted nipple correction. We recommend the following tips for your nipple correction preparation:
You will not be able to drive straight after your surgery. You may need to wait 5 days to 2 weeks before you are able to drive again. It is therefore very important to arrange for a family member or friend to escort you home after your operation. Medbelle can also help you with travel arrangements if you are finding this difficult.
You will need to arrange adult supervision for at least the first 24 hours after your surgery. This is because you may still feel drowsy from the anaesthetic and painkillers.
Sleeping & resting
Make sure you have plenty of pillows as it may be more comfortable for you to sleep propped up after surgery. You should rest and sleep on your back in an inclined position (25-to-45 degree angle) for the first few days. Sleeping in this position will aid recovery by reducing the swelling and bruising.
Although you need plenty of rest after your operation, do not spend all your time in bed. You will need to get up and walk around frequently. This reduces the risk of developing blood clots after surgery.
Household items & chores
It may be very useful to place cupboard items such as mugs, crockery and dry food on the kitchen counter before surgery. This will prevent you having to reach up to get the items, which may place strain on your stitches.
It may also be useful to clean the house and get other household chores such as laundry and taking the bins out, out of the way.
Shopping & food
In order to prevent placing strain on your stitches, you should avoid heavy lifting for the first 3 weeks after surgery. It would therefore come in handy to do a big food shop before the day of your surgery. You could also prepare some meals for the freezer ready for when you return home.
Children & pets
Ask your family and friends to help take care of your children and pets whilst you are recovering.
Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet will help your recovery process. Try to eat high-protein, low-sodium foods with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Y0u should also drink lots of water and caffeine-free drinks. Try to avoid eating food and drinks that have a high amount of salt or sugar.
You should not wear clothes that compress the nipples for at least 2 weeks. This includes padded bras and tight fitting tops. Try to pick loose, comfortable clothing to wear after your nipple correction. Your surgeon will tell you if you will need to bring a supportive bra on the day of your operation.
- Alcohol, a high BMI, recreational drug use and smoking are all factors that can increase your risk of developing complications.
- Our surgeons therefore strongly advise that you should stop smoking and using all nicotine products at least 6 weeks prior to your surgery. This is because smoking increases the risk of infection and can delay wound healing.
- It is important to be aware that many homeopathic medications available over the counter can also increase the risk of complications. This includes: Aspirin, St John’s Wort, multivitamin preparations and any medications that include: ginger, ginkgo, garlic and cod liver oil.
- You should therefore stop taking all homeopathic medications at least 2 weeks prior to your surgery. This will help reduce the risk of postoperative bleeding, excessive bruising and haematoma.
It is essential to follow the advice given for your nipple correction preparation to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery.
Nipple correction aftercare
What can I expect after a nipple correction?
Your surgeon will give you specific advice regarding your nipple correction aftercare. They should cover the following points:
You will be usually be able to return home on the day of your nipple correction surgery. Your surgeon will schedule a post-operative appointment after your procedure. This will usually be made within 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery. During this appointment, your surgeon will remove any dissolvable stitches, examine your breasts, and address any surgical complications.
After your nipple correction, your surgeon will give you specific advice regarding the timeframes for:
- Time off work
- Return to sports & exercise
- Showering & bathing
- Return to driving
Each surgeon has different advice for nipple correction aftercare. It is therefore very important to follow the instructions that your surgeon has given, as these are specific to your recovery.
Time off work
The amount of time you will need to take off work after your nipple correction, will depend on the type of job you have. If your work involves a lot of physical activity, you will have to take at least 1 week off. If it does not involve a lot of physical activity, then you may only need 3 to 5 days off work.
Return to sports & exercise
Although you need to rest well when you return home, it is important that you do not stay in bed all day. You should take occasional, light walks after surgery. This helps the blood flow in the legs and reduces the risk of developing a blood clot in the leg (which is called a deep vein thrombosis). Despite this, you should adhere to the following advice regarding sports and exercise:
Week 1 – 2
You should avoid all sports and exercise for the first 2 weeks after your nipple correction. This is because even minor aerobic activity may increase swelling, therefore prolonging the recovery time.
Week 2 – 3
Light exercises that do not involve rigorous movement such as cycling, may be resumed.
After week 3
You should be able to resume all sports and exercise 3 weeks after your nipple correction.
As you will not be able to drive straight after your surgery, you must arrange for a friend or family member to take you home. They must supervise you for the first 24 hours after surgery. This is because you may still have some side effects from the anaesthesia and painkillers.
There are a number of techniques that your surgeon may recommend that can aid the healing of your scars following surgery:
- Scar massage – gentle massage of the scar area may benefit healing. This should only be done once the incision has fully healed and the scab has completely disappeared on its own.
- Silicone sheets/gels/creams – using silicone based products on your scars for six months to one year can help reduce the appearance of scars. You may use these products only after the glue or tape from surgery has been taken off, and your incision has fully healed.
- Avoid exposing your scars to sunlight or sunbeds. Use sunscreen to protect the healing skin and avoid colour differences.
Your surgeon will be give specific advice regarding the healing and care of your scars.
Although you will see a difference in your nipples immediately, it may take up to 6 weeks to appreciate the full cosmetic results. You should also avoid compressing your nipples in the first few weeks after surgery. This means avoiding movements such as lying on your stomach or hugging in the first few weeks.
The nipple correction aftercare advice can be different for each patient, and it is therefore important to follow the advice that your Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon gives you.
Nipple correction FAQs
It is important to educate yourself on what a nipple correction involves. Some common nipple correction FAQs include the following:
Is nipple inversion a sign of breast cancer?
A number of conditions may cause nipple inversion. Nipple inversion that has been present since puberty or following pregnancy is unlikely to be cancerous.
However, you should visit your GP straight away if your nipple inversion develops suddenly or if there are any sudden changes to your nipple inversion. Your GP needs to investigate these changes as they could indicate an underlying medical problem such as inflammation or breast cancer.
Will I be able to breastfeed after my surgery?
Your ability to breastfeed after your nipple correction depends on the degree of your nipple inversion, and the technique that your surgeon uses. If you have moderate to severe nipple inversion, your surgeon may suggest cutting or dividing the short milk ducts. This technique may result in an inability to breastfeed as the milk produced in the milk glands can no longer travel to the nipple. If your nipple inversion is less severe, your surgeon may choose a less invasive technique that doesn’t cut the milk ducts, therefore preserving your ability to breastfeed.
Your consultation with your surgeon is an ideal time to discuss your concerns and your potential options.
How long after breastfeeding must I wait to have a nipple correction?
Your surgeon may require you to stop breastfeeding for 3 to 6 months before your nipple correction. This is to allow the breasts and nipples to have enough time to settle before your procedure.
How long after pregnancy must I wait to have a nipple correction?
If you have recently given birth, you may need to wait 3 to 6 months before you have treatment.
Do I need a GP referral for a nipple correction?
The majority of cosmetic surgeons will see you for a nipple correction consultation without a referral from your GP. If you plan to go ahead with treatment however, your surgeon may ask your GP for your medical history.
Is a nipple correction available on the NHS?
Nipple corrections are sometimes offered on the NHS. This is however, uncommon for non-cancer patients as a nipple correction is largely thought to be a cosmetic procedure.
What effect will drugs, smoking and alcohol have on a nipple correction?
The use of cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs can increase the risk of complications occurring both during and after surgery. Our medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons strongly recommend that patients stop smoking and using any nicotine products for at least 6 weeks before their surgery.
Will I need additional surgeries after my nipple correction?
There is a chance that after a nipple correction, your nipple may invert again. This mainly depends on the technique that your surgeon chooses to use. It is more likely to occur when the short milk ducts are pulled and not cut or divided. If this occurs, you may require further surgery to correct this.
If you have any questions that are not present under these nipple correction FAQs, give one of our patient care advisers a call so they can answer them for you.