Breast Procedures » Inverted Nipple Treatment with Nipple Piercing

Inverted nipple correction by female Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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Nipple piercing for inverted nipples.

I have found a simple and usually effective treatment for inverted nipples is nipple piercing! Fortunately, Seattle is a pretty piercing friendly city and this treatment is well accepted by patients.

Inverted nipples are caused by short milk ducts that tether the nipple to the underlying breast. Procedures to release this tethering usually involve cutting the ducts and, in my experience, have a high rate of recurrence of the nipple inversion. Also, cutting the ducts likely interferes with subsequent lactation and could interfere with sensation. Piercing the nipple and holding it in place with a nipple barbell for about three months stretches out the ducts and thus far has resulted in low recurrence after the barbell has been removed. Piercing does not damage the ducts or nerves and has not turned any of my patients into Marilyn Manson fans.

The procedure is done under a local anesthetic. For those with inquiring minds here are the details:  First I inject the nipple with Lidocaine which is a local anesthetic.  Yes, this involves a needle (a small one) and yes it stings some for a few seconds.  Then I clean the area with iodine and place sterile drapes around the nipples.  Next, I use a suture which is attached to a small curved needle to grab the inverted nipple and pull it out to length.  Once it is out to length, I use a needle and an IV to skewer the base of the nipple.  The barbell is placed through the IV catheter and then the IV catheter is removed and I secure the small end balls onto the barbell.  Now you know all my secrets but don’t try this at home.  There is some aching after the anesthetic has worn off and I have patients take Tylenol for this.  After care involves keeping the area clean with daily mild soap and water in the shower and keeping a Band-Aid or small dressing over the nipple until the holes are healed, usually a couple of weeks.  I ask patients to take it easy for a few days following the procedure and to make sure to come back in three months for removal of the barbells.  I ask patients to check the little balls on the end of the barbells every few days.  They could loosen and come off over time in which case the barbell would fall out.

I ask patients to leave the barbells in at least three months and then come back to have me take them out.  Most of my patients, however, do not come back because they like their piercings so much that they decline removal!

The cost of nipple piercing is $500 for unilateral piercing and $600 for bilateral piercing.  This includes the sterile instruments used for the procedure and the surgical steel barbells and follow-up care.

To schedule a consultation with me, please call 206 467-1101.

I get lots of questions about this procedure.  Here are a few FAQs.

Q:  Why can’t I have this done at a tattoo or piercing parlor?

A:  I don’t know of any parlors that will do this.  Piercing of a normal nipple is quick and is done without anesthetic at a parlor.  The manipulation necessary to evert and the pierce an inverted nipple could not be tolerated even by the most masochistic patient or sadistic piercer without a local anesthetic.

Q:  Is there anyone in Cincinnati, Miami, Ritzville, Bozeman, Lexington, etc. do this procedure?

A:  I don’t know.  If you find someone who does, please let me know.

Q:  Why don’t all plastic surgeons do this?

A:  I don’t know.  I have presented this technique to groups of surgeons and nobody seems very interested.  It’s one of those little, fussy procedures that not everyone likes to do.

Q:  Do patients travel to Seattle just to have you pierce their inverted nipples?

A: Yes, they do.

Q:  Does it ever not work?

A:  Yes.  I’ve had a handful of patients have significant irritation that required removal of the piercings.  I’ve had one patient get an infection after she switched out her nice, boring surgical steel barbells for some flashy, cheep ones.  She needed removal and antibiotics. Please don’t do this!  If you want to switch out your jewelry after three months, make sure it is good, quality jewelry and not some cheap nickel trinket.

Q:  If it doesn’t work and I have to remove my barbells, can we try again?

A:  Maybe.  It depends on how severe your problem was and if I think another try is worthwhile.  And I charge for another procedure.  If you bring your barbells back, I can reuse them and that will save you $60.

Q:  May I bring my own barbells?  I got some really cool ones at a tattoo parlor.

A:  Nope.  The barbells I use are surgical steel and a certain diameter.  Also the length of the barbell is determined by your nipple diameter.  So let me choose the right barbell that will work for your anatomy and my instrumentation.  You can switch to something else after three months if your promise to only use quality jewelry.

Q:  What is the success rate?

A:  I don’t know.  How is that for honesty?   Many of my patients disappear and never follow up with me.  Also, most of my patients who do come back for follow-up don’t come back at three months for removal because they dig their piercings.  This includes my “older” patients.  I don’t think pierced nipples on a 60 year old are any more disturbing than a pierced naval on a 60 year old.  Can you tell I’m from Spokane?

Q:  Do you do the invasive surgical operations for inverted nipples?

A;  No, I do not.  After doing various nipple inversion corrections operations several times and having a high recurrence rate of the inversion, I just abandoned them.  There may be a fabulous procedure for correcting inverted nipples out there but I have not yet found it.  There are at least 20 different techniques and whenever there are that many ways to fix something, you can be sure that none of them works very well!

Q:  Will this make my nipples longer?

A:  Nope.  Your nipple length is set by God.  I just pull that nipple out where it belongs.  I can make nipples shorter but that’s another topic.

Q:  Do you pierce non-inverted nipples?

A:  Nope.  You should go to a reputable piercing provider for that.  Look, I’m a surgeon.  I like to fix problems.  Inverted nipples are a problem.  Regular nipples that want a barbell are not a problem.  I will pierce a normal nipple for a lady who has a unilateral inversion and wants both nipples pierced.

Q:  What type of hardware do you use?

A;  I use surgical steel barbells.  The diameter is usually 14 gauge and the length depends on the diameter of the nipple.  It is necessary to use a barbell that has some extra length because there is always some swelling.  I encourage patients to switch out to just right barbells after about three months.  Make sure the barbells are either gold or surgical steel.  Cheep barbells can cause terrible irritation and inflammation.

Q:  Do you pierce any other, er, private areas.

A:  Nope.  And I don’t recommend it!

Q:  Can the piercing be done at the same time as a consultation?

A:  Yes, I can usually make that work.

To schedule a consultation with me, please call 206 467-1101.

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