Tuberous breasts (or tubular breasts) are a result of a congenital abnormality of the breasts which can occur in both men and women (also see Hypoplasia), one breast or both. During puberty breast development is stymied and the breasts fail to develop normally and fully. The exact cause of this is as yet unclear, however, a study in 2011 of the cells in the breasts of both males and females with tubular breasts suggested a genetic link in a disorder of collagen deposition. The condition is thought to affect one to five per cent of breast augmentation patients; however, the proportion of the general population affected is unknown as surgery is not always sought.
The tuberous breast deformity was first described by Rees and Aston in 1976 following which a method of classifying the severity was developed. The surgical classifications refer to which areas of the breast are affected and is divided into three grades; mainly in the inferomedial quadrant (Grade I); in the two inferior quadrants (Grade II); or affecting the whole breast (Grade III).
This condition is also known as constricted breasts, tubular breasts, snoopy breasts (may be considered insulting), herniated areolar complexes, conical breast, domen nipple, lower pole hypoplasia and hypoplastic breasts.
Tuberous breasts are not simply small or underdeveloped breasts. The effect of the condition on the appearance of the breast can range from mild to severe, and typical characteristics include: enlarged, puffy areola, unusually wide spacing between the breasts, minimal breast tissue, sagging, higher than normal breast fold, and narrow base at the chest wall. The condition can affect the ability of women to breastfeed as in some cases the breasts, including the milk glands, have not developed enough to produce breast milk. However, other physical aspects of fertility and pregnancy are not affected by the condition.
Any deformity of the breasts is only apparent during puberty and this may lead to psychosexual problems with girls in very early puberty being affected psychologically due to the unusual shape of the breast. Surgical papers about the techniques useful in correcting tubular breasts note that even when results are not perfect, the psychological impact of treatment is immense, with notable improvements in self-esteem to the level where the person engages in normal social activities.
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The procedure to change the appearance of tuberous breasts can be more complicated than a regular breast augmentation, and some plastic surgeons have specialist training in tuberous breast correction. As tuberous breasts are a congenital deformity, referral for treatment under the National Health Service may be possible in the United Kingdom. A starting point for those seeking such a referral may be a visit to their local General Practitioner. For those seeking non-surgical solutions, counseling may be recommended as a way of coming to terms with body image.
- Panchapakesan V, Brown MH (January 2009). "Management of tuberous breast "deformity" with anatomic cohesive silicone gel breast implants". Aesthetic Plast Surg. 33 (1): 49–53. PMID 18752021. doi:10.1007/s00266-008-9234-7.
- Klinger, Marco; Caviggioli, Fabio; Klinger, Francesco; Villani, Federico; Arra, Erseida; Di Tommaso, Luca (2011). "Tuberous breast: Morphological study and overview of a borderline entity". Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery (in English and French). 19 (2): 42–44. PMC . PMID 22654530.
- "Breast Augmentation...on Tubular Breasts". Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- Rees, S; Aston, S (1976). "The tuberous breast". Clin Plast Surg. 3 (2): 339–46. PMID 1261187.
- Gabka, Christian J; Heinz Bohmert. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the Breast. p. 72. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Zoccali, Giovanni; Maurizio Giuliani (2012). "Tuberous Breast: Clinical Evaluation and Surgical Treatment" (PDF). Department of Health Sciences, Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Section, University of L’Aquila Italy. ISBN 978-953-51-0398-1. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Tubular Breast Correction
- Breast size and breastfeeding — small breasts can breastfeed just as well as big ones!
- Zoccali, Giovanni; Maurizio Giuliani (2012). "Tuberous Breast: Clinical Evaluation and Surgical Treatment" (PDF). Department of Health Sciences, Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Section, University of L’Aquila Italy. p. 18. ISBN 978-953-51-0398-1. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Dennis C. Hammond (3 December 2008). Atlas of Aesthetic Breast Surgery. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 187–. ISBN 978-1-4160-3184-0. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- Policy for Cosmetic Surgery Referrals