Inverted nipples are those that retract inwards rather than protruding outwards. One commonly cited estimate is that some 10–20 percent of women may have them, although there aren’t very reliable numbers here. It’s a congenital condition that usually occurs when breast tissue is adhered tightly to the base of the nipple, enough to prevent it from sticking out. If you’ve had them all your life, inverted nipples are usually harmless, though they can sometimes make breastfeeding more difficult. If they occur later in life, they can sometimes be a sign of a medical condition (like breast cancer) and should be checked out. If your inverted nipples bother you, they can be de-inverted with plastic surgery — and more people than ever are opting to get this done.

The procedure’s rising popularity may be thanks to current fashion trends (#FreeTheNipple, anyone?), the insecurity that inverted nipples can cause during intimate situations, and growing awareness that plastic surgery is an option. A U.K.-based surgery group called the Private Clinic of Harley Street reported seeing requests for this particular surgery double in June of this year and climb steadily since. Other surgeons say they’re also observing more interest in nipple surgery. Allure spoke with board-certified plastic surgeons Brent Moelleken and David Shafer, contributors to the plastic surgery resource RealSelf, about the procedure.

Moelleken says that he’s definitely seen an increase in patients requesting correction of inverted nipples and attributes the increase to the awareness that such a procedure exists. Shafer agrees that there’s been an increase in nipple surgery, but doesn’t think the increase is disproportionate to a rise in plastic surgery in general. “There certainly are increased requests for nipple inversion correction, just as we have seen increased requests for all cosmetic procedures,” he says. “As patients are more aware of their bodies, see pictures on social media or [their own] intimate pictures, they are striving to improve their appearance and nipple aesthetics is definitely on their list.”

As for how the surgery works, “Essentially, the nipples are pulled out of their hiding places within the nipple itself, the abnormally tight connections to the nipple are divided, and the nipple is sewn onto itself,” Moelleken explains. He cautions that patients with fairly large nipples may need a nipple reduction at a later date and says doing a de-inversion and reduction at the same time is not advisable. Patients should also be aware that their nipples may be more visible under clothing, generally something those with inverted nipples aren’t used to dealing with.

Shafer says that the surgical intervention can cost around $6,000, but there are other options for those seeking to change the look and feel of inverted nipples: “Sometimes a small fat graft or a product like Juvederm Voluma or Radiesse is injected under the nipple to help support the release and prevent the tissue from reattaching and contracting again. Also, we sometimes place a nipple ring to help hold the nipple in the ‘out’ position. Over time, the tissues heal in this position and the nipple ring can be removed.”

A Juvederm Voluma or Radiesse injection procedure can cost around $1,500, Shafer says, while getting a nipple ring can cost a few hundred dollars. As with any surgery, if you’re considering a nipple de-inversion procedure, make sure to find a board-certified surgeon you trust and discuss all your options.

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