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 (over-sensitivity), 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.