What Is a Third Nipple?

Medically Reviewed on 11/4/2021
third nipple
A third nipple, also known as a supernumerary nipple, is a condition in which you have one or more extra nipples on your body.

An accessory nipple or third nipple, also known as a supernumerary nipple, is a condition in which you have one or more extra nipples on your body in addition to the two on your breasts.

  • Polymastia or polythelia is the presence of many nipples or an extra nipple.
  • Men are more likely to get this than women.
  • Up to eight extra supernumerary nipples are possible.

More than 200,000 Americans are said to have a third nipple. This is an uncommon condition and affects roughly two to six percent of the general population, affecting both men and women.

6 types of accessory nipples

Depending on their size, form, and tissue makeup, supernumerary nipples can be classified into the following types:

  1. Category I (polymastia): Underlying breast tissue and nipple with areola
  2. Category II: Breast tissue and nipple beneath the areola but no areola
  3. Category III: Breast tissue and areola beneath the surface but no nipple
  4. Category IV: Breast tissue but no nipple or areola
  5. Category V (pseudomamma): Nipple and areola, as well as fatty tissue beneath them, but no breast tissue
  6. Category VI (polythelia): Nipple but no areola or breast tissue

How do you identify a third nipple?

A third nipple, also known as a supernumerary nipple, is not fully grown and does not resemble a typical nipple. It might not be immediately obvious that it's a nipple.

The additional nipple may look like a small hump and appear on the so-called “milk line,” which is the section of your body that starts in your armpit and runs down to your genital area, passing through and beyond your nipples.

Remember those extra nipples can arise anywhere on the body, including the hands and feet.

How does a third nipple develop?

As an embryo, the third nipple will form around four to five weeks of development.

The accessory nipple's cause is unknown. However, the mammary ridge (milk line), which runs from the groin to the breast, is where the baby's breast tissue begins to form. An auxiliary nipple will occasionally grow along this line, but not always.

When do you need to see a doctor?

It may be necessary to seek treatment if the accessory nipple is producing discomfort during breastfeeding or if it is radiating pain.

If any lumps, hard tissues, abnormal discharge, or rash appears in the area, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

In the presence of an uncommon condition, such as an extra nipple, it's critical to get frequent physicals so that the doctor can keep track of any changes and treat them promptly.

What is the treatment of a third nipple?

Treatment is mainly surgical extraction. If you have an accessory nipple and want it removed, it is advised to consult a surgeon.

  • The surgeon would do a physical examination to identify the best course of action. 
  • The surgery is a simple outpatient procedure that requires only a few incisions and excision of extra breast, fat, and skin tissues.
  • It can be performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia if the person is anxious.
  • The post-operative recovery process is simple, and there is little downtime.

Swelling may occur after surgery, but it usually goes away within two weeks. The scar may seem reddish or brown in comparison to the surrounding skin for the first year or two years. It should grow into a thin bright line after one to two years.


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Medically Reviewed on 11/4/2021
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