Supernumerary nipples or also called third breast nipples are a condition of the presence of excess nipples outside the two nipples of the right and left breast. This condition can be experienced by both women and men, and often goes undetected because it is considered a mole or birthmark.
Extra nipples form during development in the uterus and can appear anywhere along the milk line, the line where breast tissue can potentially emerge and develop. This line extends from the armpit to the groin.
The development of the extra nipple is influenced by hormones. It is estimated that about 6% of people worldwide have more than two nipples.
This condition is congenital and usually harmless, but sometimes it occurs with other congenital diseases, such as heart defects or congenital kidney disease.
Additional nipples are more common in men than in women. Although the most common number of adjunctive nipple abnormalities is three, including normal nipples, a person can have up to eight nipples.
The Third Nipple Signs
Additional nipples appear from birth, the number can be one or several. In most cases, the additional nipple is much smaller than the normal nipple and often looks similar to a mole.
This extra nipple can also be pink or brown in color, and usually, the center of the nipple protrudes from the surface of the skin. Sometimes, there is a hollow in the middle of the nipple, and it grows hair at puberty.
If the additional nipple also contains glandular breast tissue, the area of the additional nipple may enlarge during puberty, swell, and become tender before menstruation. Then when breastfeeding, this additional nipple can also secrete milk.
Types of Additional Nipples
Based on the composition of the existing tissue, additional nipples are divided into six categories, namely:
In this condition called polymastia, there is a nipple and areola, which is a dark area around the nipple, with breast tissue underneath.
In this category, the nipple does not have an areola but has breast tissue underneath it.
This category indicates that there are breast and areola tissue, but no nipple.
This category means there is breast tissue, but no nipple or areola.
In this condition called pseudomamma, the nipple and areola have fatty tissue underneath, but no breast tissue.
This condition is called polythelia, in which there is a nipple, but no areola or breast tissue underneath it.
The Risks Behind Additional Breast Nipples
Although rare, an extra nipple can be a sign of a congenital breast defect or an early sign of a tumor or cancer.
One of the genes that can cause additional nipples to appear, a gene called the Scaramanga gene, also allows additional nipples to develop breast cancer, as in normal breasts.
Not only that, certain types of additional nipples, such as polythelia (category 6), are also often associated with kidney disorders, such as end-stage kidney disease or kidney cancer.
Supernumerary Nipple Treatment
Supernumerary nipples usually do not require medical attention. However, some people do want the extra nipple to be removed because they are considered to be disruptive to appearance or because they cause discomfort, such as milk or pain.
The surgical procedure for additional nipple removal varies, depending on whether the nipple is accompanied by breast tissue underneath or not.
For additional nipples without breast tissue, removal can be performed by a simple surgical procedure, similar to the removal of a mole. As for the nipples which are accompanied by breast tissue, breast removal surgery (mastectomy) can be performed.
In general, Supernumerary nipples are harmless and not cancerous. Even so, to confirm the condition, you are advised to consult a doctor, especially if there are changes in the nipples, such as the nipples becoming too dry, a rash appears, or a lump appears.