Breast Asymmetry Causes and Treatment Options
Breast asymmetry occurs when the breasts vary in size, form, shape or positioning. The existence of slightly asymmetrical breasts is a common natural occurrence, with an estimated 8 out of 10 women having some degree of uneven breasts. Many women may not even realize their breasts are uneven.
Typically, having breasts that differ in size or appearance is purely a cosmetic concern. However, depending on the degree, breast asymmetry may lead to chronic back pain or self-consciousness which may degrade the sufferer’s quality of life.
There are several procedures dedicated to correcting breast asymmetry.
Common Causes of Breast Asymmetry
There are many causes for breast asymmetry including:
- Hormone level changes (often through the normal menstrual cycle or the use of hormonal contraceptives like birth control)
- Traumatic injury
- Posture issues
- Weight gain or loss
- Uneven ribcage formation during fetal development
- Prior breast surgery
Asymmetrical breasts can also be the result of one of several underlying medical conditions including:
- Tubular breasts: A disorder that results in uneven breast growth during puberty
- Poland Syndrome: The improper development of the underlying chest muscle
- Amastia: A condition that restricts the development of breast tissue
Breast Asymmetry and Cancer
Breast asymmetry is typically not a symptom of breast cancer. However, the growth of non-cancerous fibroids, benign breast tumors, or breast cysts can cause sudden changes in breast size or shape. Any woman who notices any sudden changes in breast symmetry should undergo a mammogram to rule out cancer.
Breast Asymmetry and Breast Implants
Women with breast implants who experience changes in breast symmetry may have experienced an implant rupture (when a tear to the outer shell of the implant causes the filling to leak out). Another possible cause is capsular contracture, a common complication of breast augmentation surgery where the normally thin scar tissue capsule around the breast implant becomes thickened. This capsule can squeeze the implant, causing the breast to become misshapen or mispositioned. In either case, these patients can correct their asymmetry through a breast augmentation revision procedure.
Breast Asymmetry Treatments
There are several safe and effective plastic surgery procedures that can correct even the most severe forms of breast asymmetry. It’s important for patients to understand that fixing uneven breasts can be a complicated process. Depending the specific characteristics and needs of the patient, a skilled plastic or reconstructive surgeon may recommend a surgical plan that includes:
- Breast augmentation to enlarge the smaller breast
- Breast reduction to reduce the size of the larger breast or change breast shape
- Breast lift surgery (or mastopexy) to alter breast positioning
- Fat transfer to the breasts (in cases where the size difference between breasts is less than one cup size)
- Some combination of the above procedures
Women who wish to correct breast asymmetry should start the journey by scheduling an in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic or reconstructive surgeon. A skilled surgeon will perform an examination to determine the best treatment plan for the specific needs of each individual patient.