If you see a naked person (maybe mistakenly) with more than the normal number of nipples, please DO NOT embarrass the individual. Just maybe look away or if you’re as curious as a cat, very politely, I mean as polite as you can be, ask about it.
My first encounter with it? Wow! I thought it was a mole that was never going to leave until I read about it. A third nipple (also called supernumerary nipples, in the case of multiple nipples) is a condition in which you have one or more extra nipples on your body. This is in addition to the two typical nipples on the breasts.
It is usually not as fully developed as a regular nipple. You may not even be able to recognize an extra nipple right away. Some appear simply as tiny bumps with no familiar features of a nipple, but others can look just like a regular nipple at first glance.
Third nipples most commonly happen on the “milk line.” This refers to the area on the front of your body that starts in your armpit and goes down through and past your nipples to your genital area. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between an extra nipple and a mole or birthmark. Moles and birthmarks also tend to be flat and not have any ridged or nipple-like bumps in them.
They’re also more common in men than in women, while a third nipple is the most common number of extra nipples people with this condition have, it’s possible to have up to eight supernumerary nipples. But not all extra nipples may appear here. They can appear almost anywhere on your body, even on your hands or feet. These are known as ectopic supernumerary nipples.
What do Mark Wahlberg, Lily Allen, Harry Styles and some others have in common? For one thing they’re all very, very famous, but so are lots of people, and you already knew that. Another thing these four individuals have in common is that they have extra nipples.
In 1915, based on a study of Finnish people, he classified supernumerary nipples into eight discrete categories, according to the types of tissue present. In “polymastia,” or category one, the extra nipple comes with an areola as well as underlying breast tissue. In essence, it’s a complete additional breast.
In most cases, extra nipples are hardly even noticeable, or may be mistaken for moles or birthmarks. But if there is glandular tissue – the same sort of breast tissue that comes with normal nipples – then they can suffer the same sorts of hormonal changes and diseases that can afflict normal breast tissue. Even if they don’t reveal themselves to their owners until puberty or pregnancy, they can change pigmentation, swell, become tender, or even lactate. In those cases, they act like regular nipples and breasts, only they’re found elsewhere on the body. They can also develop cancerous tumors, just as regular breasts can.
Why do third nipples occur?
Third nipples develop while a human embryo is developing in the womb.
During the fourth week of pregnancy, the embryo’s two milk lines, which are made of ridged ectoderm tissue (a type of tissue that eventually becomes part of your skin), thicken.
Normally, the milk line tissue stays thick and forms your nipples while the rest of the thickened skin softens up again. But in some cases, parts of the milk line ridges don’t become regular ectoderm tissue again. When this happens, supernumerary nipples can appear where the milk tissue stayed thick and ridged after birth and development into adulthood.
Supernumerary nipples can fall into several different categories depending on their size, shape, and tissue makeup:
- Category One (polymastia): The extra nipple has an areola around it (the soft, circular tissue around a nipple) and typical breast tissue underneath, which means that a full breast has developed.
- Category Two: The extra nipple has breast tissue underneath but no areola is present.
- Category Three: The extra nipple area has breast tissue underneath but no nipple is present.
- Category Four: The extra nipple has breast tissue underneath but no nipple or areola is present.
- Category Five (pseudomamma): The extra nipple has an areola around it but only has fat tissue underneath rather than breast tissue.
- Category Six (polythelia): The extra nipple appears by itself with no areola or breast tissue underneath.
Can it be removed?
You usually don’t need to have a third nipple removal for health reasons. Supernumerary nipples don’t indicate any underlying conditions or cause any conditions themselves. But you may want to get them removed because you don’t like the way they look or for other cosmetic reasons. Supernumerary nipples can also lactate in both men and women, especially if they’re more fully developed.
A quick, noninvasive outpatient surgery can be performed to remove extra nipples with minimal pain and recovery time.
Complications to having more than 2 nipples?
In rare cases, a third nipple can be a sign of a congenital breast defect or an early sign of a malignant growth or tumor. One of the genes that can cause an extra nipple, called Scaramanga’s gene, can also make it possible for an extra nipple to get breast cancer, just like a regular breast.
Certain types of extra nipples, such as polythelia (category six), can be related to kidney conditions like end-stage renal disease or cancer of the kidney cells.
Most owners of third nipples are unfazed by this quirk of their bodies. Others have them removed for cosmetic reasons. But some historical case reports offer more extreme tales. A case reported in 1827 refers to a French woman who had a complete third breast on her left thigh. After she gave birth, it began to produce milk. “It was offered to her infant who took it willingly,”
As fascinating as they are extra nipples are nothing more than a harmless, neutral quirk of humanity, a perfect imperfection that is unique to the individual.