Can Niplette treat your Inverted Nipples? Read about this non-surgical option
Just as breasts come in different colours, shapes, and sizes, so do nipples. They can be protruding, flat, or even inverted. Having flat or inverted nipples is actually very common. Flat or inverted nipples are usually not a cause of worry if they’ve always been that way. They can, however, be cosmetically unsatisfying. They may also make breastfeeding difficult. You can try to draw out your nipples using home remedies and manually stimulating them using the Hoffman technique. If that doesn’t work out for you, you might want to consider a different non-surgical treatment with the Niplette. The Niplette is an option to treat inverted nipples without surgery.
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What are inverted nipples?
Nipples are located at the centre of your breasts and are attached to the glands that produce milk (your mammary glands). The areola is the pigmented skin that surrounds your nipples. Together, your nipple and areola form the NAC (nipple-areola complex).
Having short milk ducts can result in flat or inverted nipples. If your nipples are not raised above the level of your areola and instead lay evenly against it, then you have flat nipples. If they pull inwards instead of outwards, even after being stimulated, then you have inverted nipples. Around 10% of women have at least one flat or inverted nipple.
Even though flat nipples may look different, they should function the same, even during breastfeeding. In some cases, however, it might be more difficult for your baby to latch on to your breasts and breastfeed if your nipples don’t stick out.
How does a Niplette work?
A lot of people wonder “can inverted nipples be treated without inverted nipple surgery”? The answer is possibly, and it comes in the form of the Niplette.
The Philips Niplette is a device that provides non-surgical correction of inverted nipples. It’s made up of a transparent nipple cup and a sealing flange which is attached to a valve and syringe port. It works by applying a suction to your nipples. This repeated suction aims to lengthen the short milk ducts pulling back on your nipples. After a while, your nipples could be eventually stick out on their own. By then you might not have to use the device anymore or only need to do so intermittently.
One study showed that more than 80% of women using the Niplette are able to pull out their nipples and fill their Niplette cup by their first follow-up appointment. Furthermore, more than 90% of women are able to discontinue using the device after only three months once there nipples are sticking out. The study also noted that all pregnant women who have used the Niplette have been able to breastfeed without difficulties, although half of them couldn’t breastfeed before.
How to use Niplette
Almost all patients find the Niplette easy to use. All you need to do is follow the below instructions;
- Before setting up the Niplette, rub your nipples with ointment very well
- First, push the syringe firmly into the open end of the valve until it’s secured
- Then, with one hand, place the cup of the Niplette over the areola of your inverted nipple
- With the other hand, pull the syringe as firmly as comfortable
- When you pull on the syringe, the air is withdrawn, and your nipple will be sucked into the cup
- After your nipple has been pulled out, let go of the niplette, and carefully separate the syringe from the valve
After you have completed these simple steps, you can hide the Niplette under your clothes and freely go about your day. You should wear it for up to eight hours a day. Remember that you are in control of the suction and you should only pull on the nipple as firmly as comfortable.
Is using a Niplette safe?
The Niplette is generally safe to use. However, if you don’t stick to the recommendations, you might run into a little trouble, for example;
- Infection: The Niplette cannot be sterilized, so using it on lactating breasts could lead to an infection
- Bleeding: Pulling too hard on the nipples could make them crack and bleed
- Sore nipples: Repeated usage of the device could make your nipples sore. Using lotion or nipple ointment will help soothe and hydrate your nipples after prolonged usage of the Niplette.
If you use this device properly and follow the instructions, then you will have a smooth experience, results, and you will get use to it in no time. Make sure you consult with a healthcare professional before you start using the Niplette.
Is a Niplette effective?
Suction devices like the Niplette work by sucking the nipple into a small cup. This suction helps the nipple protrude and point outwards instead of turning inwards. Using such devices repeatedly for an extended period of time will help to loosen up your nipples. Eventually, the nipples stay erect for a longer time on their own.
The Niplette could be your best shot to treat your inverted nipples without surgery. It may not work for everyone. Most women end up with protruded nipples, while others don’t. If you have Grade 3 inversion or the Niplette isn’t working for you, you could consider going for surgery.
What are the other options to treat inverted nipples?
Although the Niplette could give you results, if you want permanent results you may need inverted nipple surgery. This surgery is a cosmetic procedure that only takes about an hour to alter the appearance and projection of your nipples. The flat nipple surgery is quick, effective, and permanent. You will be able to go back home a few hours after it’s done. Dr Patrick Briggs and our surgeons at Coco Ruby Plastic surgery may recommend inverted nipple surgery because it can alter the appearance of the nipple and make breastfeeding easier.
During this brief procedure, a local anaesthetic is used so that your surgeon can lift both your nipple and areolas into a protruding position without pain.
Are inverted nipples worrying?
A lot of women live their entire lives with inverted nipples and have nothing to worry about. If you’ve always had inverted nipples, from childhood or puberty, then you should know that it’s very common. It’s usually not a cause of worry.
In such cases, the milk ducts connected to the nipple are short, and they tend to pull it back. It is also not uncommon to get inverted nipples after surgery, pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
But if you’ve noticed that your nipples have recently and suddenly turned and started pointing inwards, then you should check with your doctor. In rare cases, a nipple turning inwards could be a sign of breast cancer or an underlying bacterial infection.
What are the grades of inverted nipples?
The level of nipple inversion is determined by grades. Nipple inversion has three grades. The more severe the inversion, the higher the grade. Here’s how you can figure out the grade of your nipple inversion:
- Grade One
- This is the least severe degree.
- If your nipple is drawn out for a while after you pinch your areola or during breastfeeding, then you have grade one inversion.
- Grade one inverted nipples could also stand out on their own with cold or other stimulation.
- Grade Two
- Nipples with grade two inversion can still be pulled out, but with more difficulty than grade one.
- Once released, the nipple will quickly go back into its inverted shape.
- This can cause difficulty while breastfeeding.
- Grade Three
- If you’re not able to draw out your nipple at all, then you’re a grade three.
- This is the most severe grade and you might not be able to breastfeed at all.
Manually pulling your nipple outwards could be successful for women with grade one inversion. If that fails, women with more serious inversion might want to consider using a Niplette.
Follow these simple steps to see your grade of nipple inversion;
- Stand in front of a mirror with a completely bare chest
- Use your thumb and forefinger to hold your areola
- Then gently press inward into your breast
- Observe how your nipple responds to your pinch to figure out its inversion grade
You could have different levels of inversion in each nipple or you may only have one inverted nipple. Once you have figured out how serious your nipple inversion is, you can consider the different options available to treat it.
Niplette FAQs – Frequently asked questions about Niplette and Inverted Nipples
Does a niplette work permanently?
- Some people get permanent results with the niplette, others don’t.
- It depends on the severity, your skin laxity, and your anatomy.
How long should you wear a niplette?
- You should keep wearing a niplette until your nipples start sticking out on their own.
- The Niplette is not designed to be worn for more than 3 months. So if you don’t get results after 3 months, you might want to consider other options, like inverted nipple surgery.
Can I breastfeed after having surgery to correct inverted nipples?
- This depends on the type of surgery you get.
- There one surgery type that preserves the milk ducts, and another that does not.
- If you’re planning to breastfeed in the future, you should discuss this with your surgeon before getting surgery.
Can I make my areolas smaller without surgery?
- There is no way to make your areola smaller without surgery.
- You can consider areola reduction surgery for that.
- This can be done alone, or as part of a breast lift or a breast reduction.
How do you fix Grade 3 Inverted nipples?
- Surgery might be your option to permanently fix Grade 3 inverted nipples.
- You can, however, try non-surgical treatment first, but this usually does not work with high grades of inversion.
Can you still breastfeed if you have inverted nipples?
- It depends on the grade of the inverted nipple.
- Women with grade 1 and 2 can usually breastfeed with little to no trouble.
- Women with grade 3 find it almost impossible. The nipples themselves are indeed connected to your milk ducts, but cannot be suckled on by your baby if they’re inverted or flat.
Can you correct inverted nipples without surgery?
- It depends on how serious your nipple inversion is. Nipples with less inversion (Grades 1 and 2) may be corrected by suction devices such as the Niplette.
- More inversion (Grade 3) can usually only be treated with nipple correction surgery.
What causes flat nipples?
- Flat nipples are usually that way from birth.
- Being born with tight connective tissue or short milk ducts can give your nipples their pulled-back appearance.
- Less commonly, breast surgery, breastfeeding, and breast cancer can be a cause of flat nipples.
Are inverted nipples less sensitive?
- The difference between erect nipples and inverted ones is only the shorter connective tissue and milk ducts.
- Since no sensory nerves are affected, inverted nipples should be able to have the same sensations as protruding nipples.
Dr Patrick Briggs recommends you try using the Niplette device before seeking plastic surgery for Inverted Nipples. For more information about Inverted Nipple Surgery visit our webpage.
Further Reading and Medical Sources:
- Mayo Clinic Webpage on Breast cancer
- JPRAS Article on The “ Niplette ” : an instrument for the non-surgical correction of inverted nipples
- Springer Nature Article on Breastfeeding success with the use of the inverted syringe technique for management of inverted nipples in lactating women
- National Center for Biotechnology Information Article on Surgical Correction of Inverted Nipples
- National Library of Medicine Article on The “Niplette”: an instrument for the non-surgical correction of inverted nipples
Dr Patrick Briggs Melbourne
Dr Patrick Briggs FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is a Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon.
Both he and his team are dedicated to patient care and are committed to treating each and every patient with respect and privacy.
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