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A supernumerary nipple is a common, minor birth defect that consists of an extra nipple (and/or related tissue) in addition to the two nipples that normally appear on the chest. Most supernumerary nipples do not cause symptoms or complications. They often are small and go undetected. Sometimes they are first noticed during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy when hormonal changes affect breast tissue. They can be present with no other tissue (polythelia); with some related tissue; or with breast tissue and ducts (then referred to as polymastia). They are usually located along areas of the body known as the "embryonic milk lines," the lines of potentially appearing breast tissue. The embryonic milk lines extend on both sides of the body from slightly above the armpit, down the chest and abdomen, to the inner thighs near the groin. Supernumerary nipples are usually not inherited but familial cases have been reported. Most people do not need treatment, but the nipple and related tissue can be removed for cosmetic purposes or if there is discomfort.
Source: GARD Last updated on 05-01-20
We aren't able to offer a specific diagnosis or speculate on the exact type of supernumerary nipple you have; we can only provide information that we hope you find useful. We recommend that you speak with your doctor about your questions and perhaps ask for a referral to a dermatologist with knowledge about supernumerary nipples. Histology (the study of tissue under a microscope) may provide a definitive diagnosis, as the tissues present in a supernumerary nipple are identical to those of the normal nipple.
Supernumerary nipples were classified into 8 categories in 1915, and this classification is still used today:
Although this classification is clear, people with a supernumerary nipple may encounter interchangeable terms or the inaccurate use of terms. This may be due to the range of variability from person to person. The likely reason that more recent descriptions are scarce in the literature is the relatively minor significance of a supernumerary nipple, from a health perspective.
Last updated on 05-01-20
Most people do not need any treatment for a supernumerary nipple. Removal via surgery or another technique may be considered for cosmetic purposes or if there are symptoms that cause discomfort, such as lactation or tenderness.
A thorough work-up for other malformations typically is not needed in a person with a supernumerary nipple who is otherwise healthy. However, a work-up may be recommended if a person has:
Physical exams and mammography of ectopic breast tissue should occur at the frequency recommended for normal breast tissue in any particular person. Supernumerary nipples can undergo similar diseases to normal breast tissue.
Last updated on 05-01-20
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