Many women have a mild degree of asymmetry between their breast size or shape, but some women suffer from marked breast asymmetry. This can lead to significant physical and psychological issues. The asymmetric weight of differently sized breasts can result in neck, shoulder and upper back pain. Affected women can also be very self conscious both clothed and unclothed leading to avoidance of certain activities such as swimming and sports, difficulties in finding clothing that camouflages their asymmetries and psychological distress. When the asymmetries or deformities present in adolescence it can be particularly distressing for young women who maybe too self conscious to share their concerns with their parents, carers or doctor.
What causes breast asymmetries?
- Congenital breast deformities
- This is the most common cause of breast asymmetry
- It usually presents during puberty due to a congenital problem with breast development and this persists into adulthood.
- It includes some conditions such as tuberous breast deformity, constricted breast deformity or Poland’s Syndrome
- Breast feeding
- Some women develop breast asymmetry after breast feeding
- Wide local excision of breast cancer or other breast lumps may result in breast asymmetry
- Radiotherapy for breast cancer can result in shrinkage of one breast leading to asymmetry between the two breasts.
How is breast asymmetry treated?
Surgery to correct breast asymmetry is tailored to the specific nature of the asymmetry and the wishes of the woman herself. If size asymmetry is the principle issue the large breast can be reduced by unilateral breast reduction to match the smaller breast or the smaller breast can be enlarged to match the larger one. Unfortunately correction of the asymmetry is not always as simple as matching one ‘abnormal’ breast to the ‘normal’ side as both maybe abnormal in their shape and or size. Surgery to both breast is often required and maybe a combination of techniques including breast reduction, breast lift and breast implants.
Dr O’Mahony has significant expertise in correction of breast asymmetry and congenital breast deformities and works with each of her patients to determine how best to approach and correct their individual problem. This process usually takes a few consultations with her to plan for surgery.
Will my health fund cover my surgery?
In many cases reconstructive plastic surgery to correct breast asymmetry or congenital breast deformities is recognised by Medicare and therefore will also be recognized by health fund policies that cover plastic surgery (this is different from purely cosmetic surgery which is not currently covered by any health fund). For some procedures pre approval from Medicare is necessary and Dr O’Mahony can arrange that for you, the process of approval usually takes 6-8 weeks.