Human beings aren’t completely symmetrical. We all have some variation in our arms, legs, ears, etc.—none of our body parts look exactly the same. This goes for breasts, as well.
Women are often concerned about breast asymmetry, especially when their bodies are still developing. All this worry about asymmetrical breasts has led to a lot of myths and speculation on the topic, but there isn’t as much to worry about as you might think. Here’s what you need to know about breast asymmetry and how to fix it.
What Causes Breast Asymmetry?
Asymmetrical breasts can occur for a variety of reasons and might be temporary or permanent. They can be caused by:
- Hypoplastic breasts—underdeveloped breasts that might be small, uneven, or far apart on the chest. Hormones, injury, or medical complications may cause hypoplastic breasts, but the exact cause isn’t always clear.
- Juvenile hypertrophy—one breast grows much larger than the other during adolescence and does not even out on its own over time. The cause of this rare condition is not fully understood but is thought to be hormone-related.
- Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)—this condition involves excessive milk duct tissue that can result in benign growths. While women who have ADH won’t necessarily get cancer, it can be a risk factor.
- Pregnancy—hormone shifts during pregnancy can result in breast asymmetry that may or may not resolve after childbirth and breastfeeding.
- Injury or surgery—The breasts may start off even, but can be damaged and change their shape and size due to injury or surgery. Reconstructive surgery may be needed to restore a normal breast appearance.
- Mastectomy—treatment for breast cancer often involves the removal of one or both breasts, resulting in obvious unevenness. Reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy is common.
Are Uneven Breasts Anything to Worry About?
Usually, uneven breasts aren’t dangerous to a woman’s health. There is some indication that a large amount of asymmetry may increase cancer risk, but more research is needed to confirm these findings. In general, asymmetry is not considered something to worry about, except from a cosmetic or emotional standpoint.
Hiding and Fixing Asymmetry
It’s perfectly normal for women to feel self-conscious about having uneven breasts, especially teenagers and women who have had a mastectomy. Most women find it difficult to conceal asymmetry of more than 30% in everyday clothing. Temporary fixes, like stuffing one bra cup or wearing a prosthesis, can help women feel more comfortable in public but they won’t work in every situation.
Talking with a mental health professional, like a counselor or psychologist, can help women cope with the emotional distress of breast unevenness or the loss of a breast. For some women, surgery may be the best option for resolving asymmetry permanently and restoring their confidence.
Cosmetic Surgery for Breast Asymmetry
When surgery is performed to improve the appearance of the breasts, it’s considered a type of plastic or cosmetic surgery. Breast surgery is customized to meet each patient’s individual needs. Asymmetry varies quite a bit from woman to woman, so it’s impossible for a plastic surgeon to successfully apply the same techniques for all patients.
For many women, breast augmentation is the best answer. Breast implants of two different sizes may be placed to give a woman a balanced and natural appearance. This is a good option for women who feel their breasts are too small. Saline or silicone implants are available, depending on the patient’s age.
Other women with asymmetry might feel like their breasts are too big. In this case, a breast reduction can be performed to make the breasts smaller and to match them. Breast reduction surgery can reduce back and neck pain, minimized painful chafing and bouncing, and improve the contour of the breasts.
Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy
In most cases, reconstructive breast surgery after a mastectomy is covered by insurance, and it’s often done immediately after the mastectomy takes place. A plastic surgeon works with the patient and the rest of the patient’s medical team to create a surgical plan for reconstructing the breasts after a mastectomy.
This surgery is usually performed using breast implants for reconstruction, although a surgeon may use the patient’s own fat and tissue in some cases. All the details will be discussed before the day of the surgery.
Talk to a Skilled Surgeon
Don’t take chances when it comes to choosing your doctors; it’s essential to get help from an experienced plastic surgeon. Dr. Joseph Rucker, MD of Eau Claire, WI, is known for his skill in custom breast enhancement and will be happy to help you design your perfect treatment.