my nipples are flat and sometimes cave in.

dear heather,
My nipples do not poke out like normal ones. They are flat and sometimes cave in. What is wrong with them?
Just as there are a variety of skin tones, noses, and earlobes, there are a variety of nipple types. You have what are called inverted nipples, meaning that they go in rather than out. The situation actually isn’t that uncommon. The percentage of the population that has inverted nipples is generally estimated to be between 10 and 20 percent.

According to Dr. Karen Rosewater, having inverted nipples is generally not a serious medical condition. Many people begin to worry about this around the time they start breast feeding, but inverted nipples usually don’t prevent nursing. The baby can still draw milk by applying pressure to the area.

Others feel self conscious about their nipples because they worry that they don’t look “normal.” If this is the case with you and you’d like to raise them, there are several things that may help.

Dr. Rosewater says that some people use nipple protractors, an apparatus similar to a turkey baster. These devices use suction to draw out the nipples and are applied regularly. If you cannot find a nipple protractor, using a turkey baster itself or needle-less syringe (typically used to give pets or children liquid medication) may do the trick. Results vary from person to person.

Another option is a suction device called the Niplette, which can be worn under your bra. Because it applies consistent pressure, some women have found this to be an effective way to extend their nipples.

If none of these options help and your nipples are really, really affecting your self-confidence, there are surgical options–but Dr. Rosewater warns that plastic surgery is not without risk. Aside from the potential hazards of being under anesthesia, you also run the risk that surgery will damage the milk ducts needed for breast feeding, which may be important later if you decide to have children. Surgery probably should be considered a last resort.

take care,

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