Tuberous breasts are a challenge all around—for women (and occasionally men) who have them and for plastic surgeons as well. If you have the condition or know someone who does, here’s an overview that may enhance your understanding.
What Are Tuberous Breasts?
For a thorough discussion of the condition, you may want to skim this article from The Aesthetic Surgery Journal. It’s technical in nature, but you can see photos of real patients with tuberous breasts and read the authors’ surgical approach to cosmetic improvement.
Like the authors, we’ve heard several different names used to describe tuberous breasts in our New York cosmetic surgery practice. The condition is also called “tubular breasts,” “Snoopy breasts” and other descriptive terms, as well as names that try to explain its cause such as “constricted breasts.”
In short, breasts grow to resemble small tubers because tissue at the base is constricted. The tight tissue prevents the breast from growing horizontally and vertically in a normal fashion, pushing what tissue does form outward and downward. In doing so, areolas frequently become overly large. In medical circles, tuberous breasts are considered a deformity, because it’s an “alteration in or distortion of the natural form of a part, organ or the entire body.”
From a Woman’s Perspective
Many women with tuberous breasts suffer embarrassment and self-esteem challenges. More than other non-life-threatening conditions, such as webbed fingers or deformities of the outer ear, breasts that appear atypical can undermine a young woman’s body image and sense of self at a formative time of life and beyond. Here’s a sample of comments real patients have made about their feelings:
• I feel disgusting and really unconfident.
• My tuberous breasts have bothered me my entire life.
• It is a very dewomanizing condition.
We have consulted with dozens of women with tuberous breasts in our New York practice over the years. Some decide to have surgery, some don’t, and we applaud every patient who makes a well-considered decision for herself. What’s distressing is when people take a stance that allows for no happy future.
A few women feel they would like their breasts corrected—yes, that’s how plastic surgeons view the procedure—but feel guilty about longing for surgery because they’ve internalized that it is a completely vain and “unnecessary” choice. Worse, some women feel the need to dictate to others that choosing surgery is some kind of affront to feminism or cop out to the pressures of modern society.
It’s great when people accept themselves just as they are. But it’s also empowering to make a change that will free you from a burden. As one woman we read about put it:
Children have their ears pinned back, people have “unsightly” moles removed and no one seems to bat an eyelid because it makes them feel better and improves their self-esteem.
No one should be made to feel judged for electing to change something that is truly in the way of their satisfaction with life.
Treating Tuberous Breasts in New York
As we mentioned, we have seen may cases of tuberous breasts in our New York practice. Breast surgery for women and men is one of our specialties, and we have perfected our approach to the condition over time. Here are the basics of the procedure for most patients.
In many cases, tuberous breasts are small and not very droopy. We often remove a doughnut of skin around the areolas, shrinking them if necessary. We leave the dermis, or layer underneath the surface, intact as that’s where the vital blood supply is located. We make a small incision in the dermis on the underside of the breast and loosen the upper layers of tissue down to the IMF, or intra-mammary fold, elevating gland tissue off the chest muscle and its outer layer of fascia. Then, we make radial incisions under the gland and through the constricting tissue so breast gland can splay out over the chest wall as it does in most breasts. Finally, we often place a small implant to give the breasts a little more volume and keep the natural tissue from re-firming up via scarring.
This is a technically challenging operation! But as you might imagine, we derive great satisfaction from performing it for a woman who has suffered because of her appearance. To see a patient’s face light up when bandages come off is a joyful occasion.
If you are not sure if surgery is right for you, consider visiting us in New York for a tuberous breast consultation. You will find our staff to be compassionate, knowledgeable and professional. Contrary to what some people say about plastic surgery practices, we do not push a procedure on anyone. Our goal is to educate and assist our patients in making good decisions for their lives.
Contact us and tell us about yourself.
Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels