Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. They can be long and tubular, small and round, far apart, or close together. Each woman’s breasts are unique and they can change a lot throughout her lifetime, due to factors like hormones, weight gain and loss, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and aging.
But even if we accept that each pair of breasts is unique, many women become concerned if they notice that their breasts don’t match each other. This is known as breast asymmetry—one breast is larger, shaped differently, or is in a different position from the other breast.
Breast asymmetry is a problem that can cause embarrassment or self-consciousness for women. It can also be quite inconvenient, as finding clothing that fits properly can be challenging, if not impossible. Because breast asymmetry isn’t a topic that’s discussed too often, there can be a lot of shame, confusion, and even fear surrounding the issue. Before you can make any treatment decisions, it’s important to get the facts. Here’s what you need to know if your breasts don’t match.
Is Asymmetry Common?
You might be surprised to learn that some degree of breast asymmetry is actually very common. In most women, it is hardly noticeable, but almost no one has a perfectly matched pair of breasts. One is typically slightly larger than the other. Human bodies are not perfectly symmetrical and it’s completely normal for breasts to be a little bit different from one another.
More severe asymmetry is less common, but it does happen for a number of reasons. Women with significant asymmetry often consider surgery to correct the problem.
What Causes Breast Asymmetry?
Breast size fluctuates throughout a woman’s life. Most women notice that their breasts are fuller during ovulation and shrink back to normal size during their period. During pregnancy, most women notice a significant increase in breast size as the body prepares for breastfeeding, which may create asymmetry.
There are many potential causes of significant breast asymmetry, but it’s often unclear exactly what the cause is in a given case. Some women just naturally develop uneven breasts, while hormone imbalances, injury, or certain medical conditions may be the cause in other cases. Sometimes, breasts can exhibit asymmetry later in a woman’s life.
Teen girls, whose bodies are still developing, are often especially concerned about asymmetry. Hormone fluctuations can cause asymmetry during adolescence and breasts may not develop at the same rate. Some cases of asymmetry in teens will resolve on their own, so it’s important to wait until the breasts are fully developed to consider corrective surgery.
Should I Be Worried About My Asymmetry?
Minor asymmetry is usually nothing to worry about. At least half of all women have some degree of breast asymmetry.
More noticeable asymmetry may not be indicative of a medical issue, but in some cases, it is. Unfortunately, researchers have linked significant unevenness between the breasts with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is why patients with uneven breasts need to be vigilant about monitoring their breast health whether they decide to correct the issue with surgery or not.
Women who develop asymmetry after their breasts have finished growing (unrelated to pregnancy) should meet with their doctor for an exam. These changes could indicate a cyst, breast cancer, or another medical problem.
Options for Correcting Asymmetry
Women who have significant breast asymmetry (generally one cup size or more between the two breasts) often experience psychological distress surrounding the issue. Fortunately, there are ways to even out the breasts for a more symmetrical appearance. A plastic surgeon can perform different types of breast surgery depending on the patient’s aesthetic goals.
The most common technique for correcting breast asymmetry is with breast augmentation. During a breast augmentation, synthetic implants are placed surgically to add volume to the breasts. While two implants of equal size are typically used, two different sizes are needed for patients with asymmetrical breasts. This is the most popular option for correcting asymmetry because most patients prefer larger breasts.
Breast reduction and breast lift surgery are also options for correcting asymmetry. A breast reduction is best for women who are experiencing back pain or other issues from overly large breasts. They may want the larger breast to match the smaller breast, or wish to reduce both breasts and make them match.
A breast lift is a good option for women with breasts in two different positions on the chest.
Monitoring Breast Health After Breast Asymmetry Surgery
Because breast asymmetry has been linked with breast cancer, it is especially important for patients to monitor their breast health carefully following corrective surgery. Self-exams, mammograms, and other routine screenings will help ensure that patients catch any changes or abnormalities quickly.
Meet with a Qualified Plastic Surgeon
If you feel self-conscious about your breast asymmetry and find that it’s having a negative impact on your life, then your next step should be to meet with a qualified plastic surgeon who is experienced in breast procedures. Only a plastic surgeon can assess your candidacy and give you customized treatment recommendations.
Dr. William Ross of Aesthetic Surgery Center in Naples, FL is known for his expertise and talent in performing breast enhancement and breast reconstruction procedures. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ross, call (239)-594-9100 today.