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Supernumerary nipples

Supernumerary nipples are a common minor congenital malformation that consists of accessory nipples.

Supernumerary nipples are located along the embryonic milk lines. Ectopic supernumerary nipples are found beyond the embryonic milk lines. In human beings, the embryonic milk line extends from a point beyond the axillae on the arms, down the chest and the abdomen towards the groin, and is generally thought to end at the proximal inner sides of the thighs. When these nipples appear with complete with breast tissue and ducts, they are referred to as polymastia.

May remain undetected. Occasionally, the supernumerary nipple is noticed when hormonal changes during adolescence, menstruation, or pregnancy cause increased pigmentation, fluctuating swelling, tenderness, or even lactation.

Between the fourth and fifth weeks of embryogenesis, an ectodermal thickening forms symmetrically along the ventral lateral sides of the embryo. This epidermal ridge extends from the axillary region to the inner side of the thigh to form the embryogenic milk (or mammary) line. During the second and third embryogenic months, the glandular elements of the breasts are formed near the fourth and fifth ribs, with regression of the rest of the thickened ectodermal streaks. In the case of failure of a complete regression, some foci may remain to result in a supernumerary nipple. This can develop into a supernumerary complete breast (polymastia).

It is said to be found in association with many syndromes and other conditions

Most often no treatment is required; however, a protruding embarrassing supernumerary nipple can be removed surgically, if desired. Removal using liquid nitrogen cryotherapy has also been described.

Anatomy: Thoracic


Article information

rID: 25689
System: Breast
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Accessory nipples
  • Accessory nipple
  • Polythelia
  • Supranumerary nipple

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Cases and figures

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