Central Tunnel Technique and Fat Grafting for Surgical Correction of Inverted Nipples and Introduction of a Treatment Algorithm

Aesthet Surg J. 2020 Apr 14;40(5):NP238-NP250. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjz289.


Background: Inverted nipples are prevalent in 3% to 10% of women and can often cause functional, psychological, and aesthetic problems.

Objectives: The authors sought to treat inverted nipples and restore the aesthetic appearance of the nipple while minimizing ductal disruption, preserving the ability to breast-feed, and reducing recurrence rates.

Methods: A retrospective review was performed on a total of 161 inverted nipples in 86 consecutive patients who underwent correction of inverted nipples at Oslo Plastic Surgery Clinic. Mean age at operation was 28.7 years and mean follow-up period was 14 months. A novel technique with central tunnelization of the retracted fibers/ducts was employed in 39 patients (45%); partial incision of the center of the inversion through a tunnel in 31 patients (36%); and total cut of the lactiferous ducts in 16 patients (19%). Fat grafting was utilized as support in 14 patients (26 nipples). Postoperatively, nipples were suspended for 4 weeks with a manually constructed device.

Results: Most patients had moderate (grade 2, 40 patients) or severe (grade 3, 52 patients) nipple inversion. Infection occurred in 4 patients and 2 patients had local irritation. Recurrence was seen in 32 patients (55 nipples) after the first operation, in 6 patients (6 nipples) after the second operation, and in 1 patient (1 nipple) after the third operation.

Conclusions: The authors propose a treatment algorithm that addresses important therapeutic goals when treating inverted nipples. Clinical examination is crucial to determine the method to be employed. The new central tunnel method and fat grafting to support the nipple are promising, although additional follow-up is necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Breast Diseases*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nipples* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies