By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Mar 22, 2024
Let us know if you found this response helpful!

Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "Is there a cure for inverted nipples?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 22 Mar. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/there-cure-inverted-nipples. Accessed 24, May. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, March 22). Is there a cure for inverted nipples?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/there-cure-inverted-nipples.

Dear 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 Alice,

I have inverted nipples. Is there anything that I can do to make them come out? I think that they are unattractive inverted. I have tried massaging them daily as doctors and magazines have suggested, but they do not stay out. They have only come out a couple of times when my boyfriend has sucked on them. Is there something wrong with them? One doctor said that I might have to get a minor surgical procedure.

—Inside-out

Dear Jr inside out and Inside-out, 

Inverted nipples are just one of many variations of the human body that makes each person unique! It’s common for some to feel awkward or insecure if their nipples look different from what’s considered “normal”. But know that inverted nipples may be more common than you think. Read on for more information! 

Nipple inversion—also known as retracted nipples—occurs when the nipples point inward rather than pointing outward on either one breast or both. This condition is observed in about 10 to 20 percent of the general population, making it quite a common occurrence! There are three different grades of nipple inversion that can be diagnosed by a health care provider. These grades are also typically accompanied by information about whether breastfeeding is possible for those with inverted nipples who are hoping to breastfeed. 

  • Grade 1: The nipple can easily be coaxed outward and may occasionally point outwards on its own in response to cold or physical stimulation. For those assigned female at birth, breastfeeding is still possible. 
  • Grade 2: The nipple can extend outward temporarily but tends to revert back to its original shape. For those assigned female at birth, breastfeeding may be a challenge. 
  • Grade 3: The nipple may not extend outward in any situation and for those assigned female at birth, breastfeeding is not possible. 

This condition can develop in anyone, regardless of biological sex. While it may be a congenital condition—meaning you’re born with it—it can also develop over time, due to: 

  • Age 
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Breastfeeding, pregnancy, breast surgery, or trauma 
  • Mammary duct ectasia 
  • Infection 
  • Breast cancer 

List adapted from MD Anderson Cancer Center 

If your nipples have inverted recently, it may be helpful to speak with a health care provider to ensure this isn’t a symptom of a medical condition. They can perform an assessment of the nipple and breast to learn more about why they may have undergone this sudden change. Additionally, it may be helpful to be on the lookout for other symptoms that could point to something more serious, including a lump in the breast, nipple discharge, or dimpling of the skin on your breast. 

While there have been no studies that indicate that physical activity is helpful in treating inverted nipples, it may be possible to change the direction of your nipples through surgery. However, it’s important to remember that surgeries rarely have a 100 percent efficacy rate. This means there’s still a possibility that the nipples may invert again even after surgery. Some less invasive methods for changing the direction of your nipples can also include: 

  • The Hoffman technique. To temporarily extend your nipple outward, you can try placing your fingers, preferably thumbs, on either side of your nipple and pressing down while pulling the skin apart. This method is often used to encourage breastfeeding. 
  • Nipple piercings. Having a nipple piercing may correct an inverted nipple, as the piercing will stretch the ducts and keep your nipple in a prolonged erect position. However, if you remove the piercing, the nipple will likely resume its inverted position. 
  • Suction devices. A suction device can temporarily coax the nipple outward using gentle suction. You might even see a fixed improvement over time with extended use of suction. 
  • Antibiotics. If this condition is caused by an infection, antibiotics can be used for treatment, which may potentially reverse the nipple inversion. 
  • Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy. These three treatments can be used if the condition is caused by breast cancer. 
  • Manual stimulation. If you’ve been diagnosed with a lower grade nipple inversion, physical stimulation can be used to temporarily coax the nipple outward. This can be done by placing your thumb and forefinger around your nipple and making a rolling motion while applying pressure. 

Before trying any of these strategies, it may be helpful to first speak with your health care provider, as they can provide more insight into your options and whether you’re an eligible candidate for them. 

All this to say, you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing, and your feelings and concerns are valid. If you feel comfortable, it may be helpful to discuss your experience with a mental health professional. They can help you navigate these thoughts and work with you to boost your confidence in the way your body is naturally. It may also be helpful to recognize that there’s no “right” or “wrong” type of nipple to have, just as there’s no “right” or “wrong” body type to have. Your individual body composition is what makes you, you! 

Don’t let this nip you in the bud, the ‘breast is yet to come! 

Additional Relevant Topics:

General Health
Let us know if you found this response helpful!
Was this answer helpful to you?