The inverted nipple: to cut the ducts or not?

Br J Plast Surg. 1991 Jul;44(5):372-7. doi: 10.1016/0007-1226(91)90152-a.


Much dilemma exists as whether to divide the lactiferous ducts or not when correcting an inverted nipple. We report a series of 26 cases (44 nipples), which have undergone correction with or without duct division. Eversion was maintained in 59% of nipples. Analysis of the failure groups revealed similar rates of failure for umbilicated nipples whether the ducts were divided (27%) or not (25%). Invaginated nipples showed an increased tendency to reinvert postoperatively if the ducts were not divided (80%) than if they were (42%) (not significant). Permanent loss of nipple sensation was noted in 20% of cases when the lactiferous ducts were divided. Postoperatively two women were able to breast feed despite complete division of their lactiferous ducts. Women with umbilicated nipples are usually able to breast feed. We believe that correction of the umbilicated nipple can usually be successfully performed, and function maintained without dividing the ducts. Correction of the invaginated nipple requires duct division. The underlying pathogenesis and varying methods of correction are reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast / surgery*
  • Breast Diseases / surgery
  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Nipples / abnormalities*
  • Nipples / physiology
  • Nipples / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / methods