Dr. Lawrence Iteld, providing breast augmentation in the Chicago area, understands that each woman has unique expectations for cosmetic surgery. Having full, perfectly proportioned cleavage is the desire of many women who opt for breast augmentation, but for others the goal may be bringing more balance to their chest.
Some women feel insecure or self-conscious about asymmetry: having one breast smaller, larger, droopier, or differently shaped than the other. This is a very common issue, to the point where many women who have it may not realize that they do. While many asymmetries are so slight they are virtually undetectable, in some cases, it can be difficult to conceal the appearance of obviously lopsided breasts with a bra or other clothing.
What Causes Asymmetry?
There are many reasons a woman may have asymmetrical breasts. The most common cause is “idiopathic,” which means: It just happens. Just like we have feet that are different sizes or one side of our face that is our “good side,” breasts can simply develop that way. Though we can rarely identify the cause of breast asymmetry, the reason is obvious in certain cases, such as prior surgery (cosmetic or cancer/tumor related) or even trauma.
Prior surgeries deserve a closer look, though, because they can roughly be divided into two categories: surgeries to remove a tumor and cosmetic surgeries that yielded less-than-ideal results. Removing a mass can change one breast’s volume, causing it to appear a different size or shape than the other. Likewise, augmentations can create an asymmetrical look, whether because the initial surgeon was not as experienced and careful as necessary, the healing process created an imbalance, or an implant-related complication or deflation.
As the breasts are made up of a significant amount of fat, losing or gaining weight can also have an impact upon their collective and individual size and shape. Since no one can control the way fat is distributed or lost—even by dieting or exercising—one side may become smaller or bigger than the other.
Genetics may play a role, as well. If your mother, grandmother, and other female relatives have uneven breasts, it’s possible that you may face the same problem.
Women who have an athletic lifestyle or whose other body parts (such as the ribs, curvature of the spine, or chest wall) are atypical in some way may also experience unequal breasts.
If a woman believes her breast asymmetry is a cause for concern or the changes are sudden, it may be best to have a mammogram or MRI screening to ensure that the breasts are in a normal and healthy condition. In general, women are encouraged to routinely examine their breasts and schedule mammograms, especially after they reach their 40s. Aside from trauma (as noted above), the most common reason for the development of an asymmetry, once fully developed, is a new tumor, whether benign or cancerous.
How Can Breast Surgery Help?
There are several surgical options that can address breast symmetry, with specifics depending mostly on the degree of imbalance. Breast augmentation is a common solution, with a plastic surgeon making an incision in a strategic area (under the armpit, below the fold of the breast, or around the areola) and inserting an implant into a pocket made in front, behind, or partially behind the chest muscle. Using two different-sized implants can change breasts from smaller and mismatched to larger and uniform.
More significant asymmetries may require a different approach, such as a breast lift to ensure both breasts sit at the same height and have the same projection, or a reduction, which involves removing tissue for cosmetic reasons, as well as physical comfort.
No matter the surgery specifics, it’s critical to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon who is extensively trained, qualified, and experienced in the desired procedure.