Changes to Appearance

Changes to the nipple

Sometimes the nipple can become inverted (go in the way). It is often caused by shortening or dilation of the ducts behind the nipple but a few women have it from very early in breast development. Some women feel conscious of an inverted nipple and sometimes it can lead to discomfort and infection. It can be corrected with a small operation.

The operation is easiest and most successful in women who no longer wish to have the option of breast feeding. The operation is a little less predictable for women who wish to have an inverted nipple corrected and maintain the ability to breast feed but is still possible. In either case it involves a small scar at the base of the nipple and can be done under local or general anaesthetic.

Very occasionally a change in the appearance of the nipple can be a sign of an underlying breast problem and distortion or tether of the nipple is one of the ways that breast cancer can present. If you feel that your nipple has recently changed, this will need to be examined.

Eczema can affect the nipple in women prone to it but eczema-like changes to the nipple need investigation as they can very occasionally be a sign of pre-cancerous change in the breast - This is called Paget's disease.

Changes to breast shape and size

The breast changes considerably during life. Out with pregnancy this change is gradual. Any change that develops in a short time (few weeks or less) needs assessment. Occassionally breast cancer can present as a distortion to the breast shape or contour.

Sometimes breasts change such that one becomes bigger than the other or a different shape. This can happen during breast development in teenagers. If it persists then cosmetic surgery to make the breasts more even can be performed. Exactly what this involves will obviously depend on just how the breasts are different, but options can be discussed. (See Surgery for Breast Asymmetry)