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Ann Plast Surg. 2005 Feb;54(2):120-3.

Correction of inverted nipple: an alternative method using continuous elastic outside distraction.

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  • 1Department of Trauma Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgery, Plastic Surgery Hospital of Peking, Union Medical College, Bejiing, China.


Inverted nipple, which is defined as a nipple located on a plane lower than the areola, presents both functional and cosmetic problems. It is a source of repeated irritation and inflammation and interferes with nursing. In addition, its abnormal appearance may cause psychologic distress. With consideration of its underlying pathophysiologic components and severity, a number of techniques have been introduced for correction of this anomaly. Most of these techniques involve extensive skin incision around the nipple that may jeopardize the blood and nerve supply to the nipple or create much scar tissue that is esthetically objectionable. For correcting the inverted nipple, the authors introduce an alternative, simple method using continuous elastic outside distraction. Compared with other methods using outside distraction, the authors used an adjustable elastic instrument made of steel wire, spring, and plastic syringe; continuous distraction of the inverted nipples; and sustaining 3 to 6 months. From August 2002 to December 2003, 14 patients (26 nipples) were treated. 12 patients had bilateral inverted nipples. Patient age at operation ranged from 14 to 40 years (mean age, 24 years). All nipples were congenital, and they had no previous operation. Six nipples were grade I, 9 nipples were grade II, and 11 nipples were grade III according to the classification of inverted nipple by Han and Hong. The mean follow-up period was 7.3 months (range, 3-12 months). Follow-up examinations revealed no evidence of recurrence of inversion. There was no complication associated with surgery, such as infection, hematoma, permanent sensory disturbance, or nipple necrosis. All patients were satisfied with their results. The authors conclude that their procedure is reliable, a simple, safe, and effective method for correction inverted nipple. But a long-term follow-up is needed. This technique can be applied to any type of inverted nipple as a primary surgical procedure.

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