Cure for inverted nipples?

Originally Published: June 29, 2001 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 16, 2010
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Alice,

I am a male with inverted nipples.

I was wondering if there is any way without surgery to make them come out. They do sometimes come out when it's cold, but go straight back in. I am not overweight, but I do no sports. Would physical activities help???

Please answer my question as it's embarrassing to take my shirt off in front of others (except in winter).

—Jr inside out

Dear Jr inside out,

Inverted nipples are one of the many variations of the human body that make each of us unique, sort of like having an "innie" or "outtie" bellybutton. Some people feel awkward about having "innies" because their nipples look different or appear to be hiding or shy. Fortunately, no medical problems are associated with being born with inverted nipples.

Have you always had inverted nipples? Inverted nipples may be a sign of a more severe medical condition only if they become inverted when previously they were not. Such a change can be a sign of Paget's disease of the breast. This condition primarily affects women over age 50 and is a rare form of breast cancer in which the ducts beneath the areola or in some rare cases, the nipple itself, have been affected by cancer. Treatment for this is similar to breast cancer in general, in that a physician might recommend lumpectomy or mastectomy along with radiation therapy. Breast cancer is rarer in men than in women, but it can occur in men. There is a less severe condition called mammary duct ectasia which is basically an inflammation and sometimes an infection of the mammary ducts. Again, this condition is usually more present in women over 50 as it is typically caused by hormonal changes, so it is highly unlikely to appear in a 15 year-old male.

It's possible to change "innie" nipples to "outties" through plastic surgery. These procedures are expensive, though (ranging from about two to five thousand dollars), and there's a chance that nipples will revert to their old orientation after the operation. Talk with your health care provider. S/he may have additional info or insight for you, including what is normal for men and what's involved in surgery.

Exercise and sports will not alter the appearance of your nipples, but they can help you feel more happy and confident with the other changes your body is going through during puberty. Remember, practically everyone (including supermodels and professional athletes) has some physical "flaw" that s/he wishes s/he could change. Instead of focusing on your least favorite feature, perhaps you can be proud of your brilliant smile, beautiful eyes, or another of your many awesome attributes.

Take care,

Alice