Nipple Surgery

Latest update: April 19, 2024
Medically reviewed by: Jordan Frey MD

Details

Nipple surgery includes different types of procedures that aim to alter the shape and size of the nipple. These surgeries can make the nipples more symmetrical and proportionate to the breast. They can also solve medical issues such as inverted nipples, damaged nipples or restructuring a nipple after a mastectomy. The treatment is often combined with other breast procedures.

Inverted nipple surgery helps fix nipples that point inwards and do not protrude. Surgeons use local anesthetic for this treatment.

They loosen the nipple tissue to allow the nipple to release and point outwards. Depending on the technique used, patients may or may not be able to breastfeed in the future.

Nipple reduction targets enlarged and hanging nipples. This can commonly occur after breastfeeding. The procedure surgically reduces their size for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

For patients with lowered nipples, a nipple lift is an effective surgical procedure. Surgeons raise and reposition the nipple if they are set widely apart. This procedure is often combined with breast reduction and lift. The process may leave a circular scar around the areola.

Some patients may choose to remove an extra or third nipple. Nipple removal requires local anesthetic. The surgeon will remove the nipple using a laser or surgical scalpel and stitch the site with sutures at the end of the surgery. 

Nipple enlargement is a non-surgical treatment. It uses filler injections such as Juvéderm, Restylane, or Radiesse to add temporary fullness to the nipple. A fat transfer might be a good option for a more permanent result.

Nipple reconstructive surgery can rebuild the nipple tissues to reconstruct a nipple. This procedure is beneficial for patients who had a mastectomy, which can cause nipple damage or require nipple removal. Surgeons use the skin around the tissue to reconstruct the nipple and secure it with stitches. When the wound is completely healed, the area can be tattooed to blend well into the skin. Patients may also opt for 3D nipple tattooing with obviates the need for surgical nipple reconstruction.

The procedure is usually an outpatient surgery. Patients may experience some swelling, bruising and scarring after the surgery. Like most invasive procedures, nipple surgery comes with some risks. These can include damaged milk ducts, loss of feeling, nipple re-inversion and, in rare cases, necrosis.
Anesthesia
local/general
Operation Time
Inpatient Period
n/a
Number of Appointments
Recovery Period
6 weeks
Invasiveness
yes

Surgery for inverted nipple – what does it involve?

Venkat Ramakrishnan, a plastic surgeon, describes this "fairly common" operation. He explains the procedure in some detail and talks about the difficulties and talks about the results. He lists some issues that patients could face.

Plastic Surgery Nipple Reconstruction

This video, from North Bristol NHS Trust, U.K., explains how a nipple reconstruction is done. Using animated images, the procedure is explained, including the means by which the surgeons achieve symmetry. The narrator explains how long it may take to recover.