Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. Each woman’s breasts are unique and can change throughout her life for a variety of reasons. Hormones, pregnancy, and aging can all contribute to changes in the breasts that can be positive or negative.
But even though we know that each pair of breasts is unique, many women still have concerns when they notice that their breasts don’t match each other. A pair of mismatched breasts that are noticeably different in size, shape or positioning is an issue known as breast asymmetry.
Breast asymmetry can cause self-consciousness or embarrassment for some women. It can also be challenging to find bras or clothing that fits properly. The topic of breast asymmetry is not discussed often because of the confusion and potential shame surrounding the issue. Before making any decisions about treatment, however, it’s important to get the facts about breast asymmetry. Here’s what you need to know.
The Basics of Breast Asymmetry
Almost no one has breasts that match perfectly. The differences between the two breasts are barely noticeable for many women, but one breast is usually slightly larger than the other. Noticeably asymmetrical breasts are less common but can occur for several reasons.
Some women develop uneven breasts naturally, while others experience asymmetry because of a hormonal imbalance or injury. Sometimes, breasts can become asymmetrical as a woman gets older. Breasts not only change throughout a woman’s life but can also change from one day to the next. They can become fuller during ovulation and pregnancy and then go back to “normal” a few days later.
Some conditions that can affect breast shape and size include:
- Amastia or amazia: Problems with the development of the areola, nipple or breast tissue.
- Tubular breasts: Also known as breast hypoplasia, this condition can develop during puberty and may affect one or both breasts.
- Poland Syndrome: Abnormal development of the chest muscle that can impact the breast on one side of the body.
Teenagers and Breast Asymmetry
Teenage girls, whose bodies are still growing and developing, are often concerned about differences in their breast size and shape. Normal fluctuations in hormone levels can cause the breasts to develop at different rates and result in asymmetry. Sometimes, the different breast sizes will resolve on their own, so it is important to give the breasts time to fully develop before considering a breast augmentation or another corrective surgery.
Juvenile hypertrophy can also affect the symmetry of the breasts. Though rare, this can cause one breast to grow significantly larger than the other. Even though the disorder is correctable with surgery, it may lead to psychological distress.
Asymmetry can be a source of stress, especially for teenage girls. Reports in a recent issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery indicate that differences in breast size can have a significant mental health impact, particularly in adolescent girls. Fortunately, any difference in size between breasts can be corrected with surgery if the problem does not resolve on its own.
Women are considered to have breast asymmetry when there is at least one cup size difference between the breasts. Fortunately, there are methods a cosmetic surgeon can use to effectively even out the breasts and achieve a more symmetrical appearance that meets the patient’s goals and expectations.
According to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, over 80% of women who underwent reconstructive breast surgery had breast asymmetry. The most common corrective method for addressing asymmetry is breast augmentation.
During breast augmentation, synthetic implants are surgically placed to add volume and improve the symmetry between the breasts. While implants of equal size are used for traditional breast augmentation surgery, two different sizes are needed for patients with asymmetrical breasts.
Breast lift and breast reduction surgery can also be used to correct asymmetry. Breast reduction surgery is ideal for women who are experiencing back pain or other health issues related to overly large breasts. In this case, they may want to reduce the larger breast to match the size of the smaller one or reduce both breasts to create a uniform appearance. A breast lift is an option for women whose breasts are positioned at different points on the chest.
Should I Be Worried About My Asymmetry?
While minor asymmetry may be no cause for concern, more noticeable asymmetry may indicate a serious medical issue. Researchers have discovered a link between uneven breasts and breast cancer. Breast tissue or breast density that is uneven has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Therefore, patients with asymmetry need to be vigilant about monitoring the health of their breasts. Women who develop unevenness after the breasts have finished growing should get a breast exam. The changes could indicate a breast cyst, cancer or another medical issue.
Biennial or annual mammograms are essential to a woman’s breast health. Mammograms can detect abnormalities and changes in breast tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, women should get breast cancer screening every 2 years after the age of 55.
Mammogram results can allow for the early detection of breast cancer or other abnormalities and improve patient outcomes. In a report from the American Family Physician, improvements in mammographic technology have enabled radiologists to better distinguish between malignant and benign soft tissue in the breasts.
You should be checked by a doctor if you notice any unusual changes in your breasts. Some of the changes to look out for include:
- A lump under the arm
- A lump in or around the breast
- Thick or firm tissue under the arm or near the breast
- A significant change in the shape or size of the breast
- Noticeable changes to the nipple
- Discharge or fluid from the nipple
- Puckered or dimpled skin
If you are concerned with the aesthetic impact of your breast asymmetry, then the next step should be to discuss your options with a qualified plastic surgeon who has experience with corrective breast procedures. Dr. William Ross of the Aesthetic Surgery Center in Naples, FL, has many years of experience in the field of plastic surgery. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ross, call (239)-594-9100 today.