Dimpled nipples

Why do my nipples have dimples?

Dimples are present when a small area of skin is pulled back from the nipple face into the nipple. During a pinch test, dimples usually go away or become less deep. Dimples should not affect the baby’s ability to latch, but breastfeeding may cause nipple pain and damage because it forces the dimpled part outward, and the dimple isn’t used to being in that position. This settles over time as the nipple adjusts to breastfeeding. A dimple can be a sign of the nipple being inverted.

A) Describing dimpled nipples

A dimpled nipple with corners at 10 and 3 o'clock: If the nipple is painful, the corners should be closely examined for damage.

Some mothers have a dimpled or indented area on the nipple face. It is caused by a small area of skin being pulled back into the nipple. This is a Grade 1 inverted nipple. Dimples can be circular or line-shaped; the latter is more common.

If you have dimpled nipples and you do the pinch test, the dimple should get less deep or go away (evert), making the nipple face appear more normal. 

A dimple may be a sign of a partially (Grade 2) inverted nipple. Use the pinch test to assess the nipple root and feel for a thickened cord in the nipple root. If there is one, it’s a partially inverted nipple and the dimple will likely not move into the out position. This will also make breastfeeding more difficult.

B) Effects of having a dimpled nipple

As long as the nipple is not partially inverted, the dimple should not affect the baby’s ability to latch and breastfeed.

Most dimples evert slightly or fully when breastfeeding or expressing. As the skin of the dimpled area isn’t used to being in the out position, these activities may cause nipple pain or damage. Circular dimples can be damaged anywhere along the edge of the dimple and linear dimples will tend to crack at the ends of the line. Damage can also be more extensive, as is shown in the gallery at the bottom of this FAQ.

Dimpled nipples do adjust to breastfeeding. The damage heals and the pain disappears. However, compared with a normally shaped nipple that has damaged skin, a dimpled nipple may take a little longer to heal and be pain-free.

It may be useful to get the nipple used to being in the “out” position by using one or more of the following inverted nipple treatments before the birth of the baby":

  • Nipple root stretching
  • Pumping
  • Devices that help pull the nipple out (nipple everters)