What is breast asymmetry?
A woman's breasts are rarely exactly the same shape and size, but most women are not troubled by minor differences in size/shape. Occasionally however, there may be an obvious difference in breast size which causes distress and embarrassment.
When should I have the operation?
Breast asymmetry is usually apparent early on in puberty. If a small difference in size exists the smaller breast may catch up to match the larger breast and so it is wise to wait and see what happens. The breasts are usually fully developed by about the age of 18. However, if a very large difference exists early on it is unlikely the smaller breast will catch up and you should seek a referral from your GP.
What can be done about it?
There are several options to achieve breast symmetry.
- Smaller Breast Enlargement: A silicone implant can be inserted into the smaller breast to closely match the volume of the larger breast (see breast augmentation).
- Breasts Enlargement: If both breasts are rather small, a silicone implant can be inserted into each breast. Placing a larger implant into the smaller breast will result in equal sized breasts.
- Larger Breast Reduction: The larger breast can be made smaller by either a breast reduction operation or by liposuction. Liposuction offers the advantage of less scarring but the amount of reduction is limited and there is less control of the final breast shape.
- Breasts Reduction: If both breasts are rather large, they can both be reduced. The larger breast can be reduced more than the smaller breast to result in equal sized breasts. See breast reduction
- Non-Surgical Treatment: If you do not wish to undergo surgery, a small silicone prosthesis can be made for you which you can slip inside your bra to pad out the smaller breast to achieve a balanced look.
What can be done if I am only 13 but have a very large difference in the size of my 2 breasts?
This is a rare situation, but rather than suffer the embarrassment of growing up with markedly dissimilar breasts, an inflatable breast implant can be inserted in the smaller breast. This device can be inflated on an intermittent basis to maintain breast symmetry during growth of the larger breast. The device is inflated by injecting through the skin into a small port which is buried beneath the skin near the armpit. Once breast development is complete, the device can be exchanged for a simple silicone implant.
Is treatment available on the NHS?
Treatment of breast asymmetry is usually available on the NHS, but only if there is a difference of 2 cup sizes between the breasts eg one breast is a B cup and the other is a D cup. You should discuss this with your GP.
What are the limitations of the procedure?
As mentioned above, no two breasts are ever EXACTLY the same size. The aim of this operation is to get an acceptably close match for shape and volume.