Inverted nipples can make breastfeeding difficult, but there is help at hand – even if it comes from an unusual source.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. While many women have no problems with it some can experience considerable pain with cracked and bleeding nipples making each feed an excruciating experience.
Poor positioning of the baby in relation to the nipple – or ‘latching on’ is often cited as the reason, and inverted nipples don’t make it any easier.
In order for babies to nurse effectively they must be able to grasp the nipple and stretch it upwards against the roof of their mouths, but if nipples are flat or inverted nipples it can be trickier. Stimulating the nipple before feeds or using a breast pump to encourage them to protrude may help some people but for others, they may not be effective.
“It’s difficult for the baby to latch on and it can be painful for the mother”, says Dr Shirin Lakhani, who practices in Kent.
But there is a novel solution at hand for those who’ve tried it all – PRP – yes, the very same treatment made fashionable by Kim Kardashian on her face with her ‘Vampire’ or ‘Dracula’ facials, can be used to help women in other parts of the body too – this time with making those inverted nipples pop out so the baby can get a better grip.
What happens is this: your blood in extracted and spun down to get the platelet rich plasma. Then, as painful as this sounds, they inject it into the nipple area and the inverted pops out.
Dr Lakhani, who trains other doctors in how to do PRP, says she’s seen some great results with this.
“Sometimes, once it’s done, the nipples can stay out permanently but for other people the results may last 12-18 months – it’s an individual response so there’s no guarantee,” she says.
But she warns, don’t wait until you’re pregnant.
“You need to plan ahead. This is not a procedure you can get done while you’re pregnant – most people won’t do this on a pregnant woman.”
It’s not that it’s not safe, she says, but it’s advised the pregnant women avoid any invasive procedures unless absolutely necessary.
During pregnancy inverted nipples may pop themselves out, but for around ten per cent of women, this is not the case. So, if you’re thinking about having a baby and have inverted nipples and want to breastfeed, this could be an option.
Dr Lakhani adds the PRP treatment is also good for treating loss of sensitivity in the nipple region post-surgery too.