- Fat injections or hyaluronic acid-based fillers can be used to achieve more prominent and perpetually perky nipples.
- Although complications are rare, nipple injections can cause damage to the milk ducts and affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed.
There are all sorts of things you can do to alter the look of your nipples. From reducing the size of the areola to tattooing it so that it looks like a heart, what’s “desirable” for the nipple changes all the time.
Thanks to celebs like Kendall Jenner, a new beauty trend has recently emerged: prominent, permanently perky nipples that can be seen beneath a shirt.
And naturally, plastic surgeons have stepped in to meet this demand.
“Most women have nipples that become erect from the cold or from stimulation, but for women who want them to be erect all of the time, there are some temporary solutions,” says Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Jacob Freiman.
Here’s what you need to know about nipple injections, one of most controversial cosmetic procedures to emerge in recent years.
How does it work?
When women get nipple injections, they’re usually the hyaluronic acid fillers Juvéderm or Restylane, which can last for about a year. These products are the same ones used to add volume to the lips and other areas of the face.
In theory, it’s a good idea, but most doctors agree that for this application fillers are actually hit or miss.
“Some people use hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvéderm to try to add volume to their nipples, but it’s not very effective,” says Manhattan plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Constance M. Chen.
There are also some more permanent options, namely the injection of fat or altering the placement of dermis to make the nipples appear perkier or more erect.
“I usually suggest the temporary treatments, as the ‘headlight’ look may be a temporary fad and fat injections are very difficult to reverse,” says Freidman.
The process isn’t very different from getting a cosmetic filler in your lips or nasolabial folds.
A board-certified plastic surgeon or licensed technician injects the solution directly into the nipples using a syringe. A local anesthesia may be administered to help make the procedure more comfortable.
Because fat and hyaluronic acid fillers create a very natural yet firm feel, they can make nipples perpetually perky, at least for a few months, while at the same time keeping them looking quite natural.
The more permanent fat transfer is a lot like a Brazilian butt lift, otherwise known as “fat transfer to buttocks”; fat is taken from another part of the body and then injected into the nipples to create a fuller look. The same process is used when “correcting” inverted nipples, and is occasionally employed during breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients or for those who have had elective mastectomies.
How much do nipple injections cost?
Temporary fillers can run you around $700 for perky nipples that may last between six months and a year, while fat grafting can creep into the thousands.
If you’re in the habit of keeping up with the Jenners, so to speak, you might wind up paying over $1,000 per year to maintain the perk.
Are they safe?
As with any cosmetic alteration, there are pros and cons.
By and large, cosmetic injections are considered safe — Botox and hyaluronic acid fillers are, respectively, the number one and number two most-popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in the United States — but there are some extra considerations that should be taken into account when fillers are used in this part of the body.
- Bacterial infections
According to Temecula, CA plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Eichenberg, the procedure can occasionally trigger an infection. “In general, (nipple injections) are safe, but because there are bacteria around the milk ducts in any woman, there is a higher risk of infection that with injecting in other areas,” he says.
In severe cases, these infections can cause pain and even permanent scarring.
- Breastfeeding issues
Directly injecting anything into the nipple can affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed.
“If a woman is planning on breastfeeding at a later date, this is probably not a good idea as it can occlude the milk ducts and, in rare cases, cause some scar tissue there,” says Eichenberg.
For this reason, most doctors will advise women who plan to get pregnant that they should avoid the procedure.
- Unpredictable results
Chen agrees that the procedure is not the best for women who might breastfeed in the future, but in her opinion the “main problem” is that the injections simply aren’t that effective.
She says some can last for between six to nine months at best; for some women, fillers don’t do anything at all.
- Reduced sensitivity
Women who have any kind of nipple procedure — whether it be breast reduction, breast implants following mastectomy, or the occasional nipple injection — risk damaging the nerves and structures responsible for producing nipple sensitivity.
If there is damage to these components, women may experience permanently decreased feeling in their nipples.
- Potentially irreversible
As previously mentioned, injecting fat into the nipples is forever. Cosmetic trends change constantly, so you could be left with a result that’s irreversible, long after perky nipples are no longer in style.
Should you try it?
There’s a long list of surgical procedures to help you create customized nipples, and there’s no indication that the list will stop getting longer.
As far as nipple procedures go, nipple injections don’t have to be more of a commitment than, say, nipple piercings or the occasional Botox injection. Still, the risks associated with the procedure are hard to ignore.
The first thing you should always do when considering your options is to talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you make the right decision based on your specific situation.
» Want to know more? Use Zwivel’s online directory to locate breast surgery specialists in your area.
- CBS News. (2012, March 23). Top 10 most popular cosmetic procedures in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/top-10-most-popular-cosmetic-procedures-in-us/11/ cbsnews.com/pictures/top-10-most-popular-cosmetic-procedures-in-us/11/
- Gould, D. J., Nadeau, M. H., Macias, L. H., & Stevens, W. G. (2015). Inverted Nipple Repair Revisited: A 7-Year Experience. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 35(2), 156-164. doi:10.1093/asj/sju113 https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/35/2/156/181321
- Garcia, E. S., Veiga, D. F., Sabino-Neto, M., Cardoso, F. N., Batista, I. O., Leme, R. M., . . . Ferreira, L. M. (2015). Sensitivity of the Nipple-Areola Complex and Sexual Function Following Reduction Mammaplasty. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 35(7). doi:10.1093/asj/sjv034 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26319082