The absence of the nipple, or athelia, is a rare congenital abnormality in which a person is born without one or both nipples. Athelia can occur on its own or as part of a syndrome with other developmental abnormalities.
Athelia is believed to result from a failure of nipple development during embryonic development. The exact cause of this condition is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to genetic factors or disruptions in the normal development of the breast tissue.
In some cases, athelia may be accompanied by other abnormalities, such as the absence of the breast tissue, as in the case of amastia. This condition may also be associated with other developmental abnormalities, such as limb or cardiac defects.
Treatment for athelia may include breast reconstruction surgery or nipple reconstruction surgery, which involves creating a nipple mound using tissue from other parts of the body. In some cases, a prosthesis or nipple shield may be used to create the appearance of a nipple.
It is important to note that, while athelia is a rare condition, it is not typically associated with any health risks or complications. However, some people with athelia may experience psychological distress or self-consciousness about their appearance, which can be addressed through counseling or other support services.