Tuberous breasts form irregularly during puberty, leading to a downward-facing, conical shape with areolas that may appear puffy and enlarged. This issue is colloquially referred to as “snoopy breasts.”
Tuberous breast deformity is not a commonly understood problem. As a surgeon who specializes in tuberous breast surgery, Dr. Larry Schlesinger fields many questions from women seeking answers about their breasts. In some cases, these women have experienced poor results from a breast augmentation with a surgeon—often not board certified—who did not understand the mechanisms or nuances of their tuberous breast deformity.
To help clarify the challenges unique to tuberous breasts, Dr. Schlesinger of Breast Implant Center of Hawaii sat down to answer key questions regarding tuberous breast deformity.
How do I know if I have tuberous or tubular breasts?
You can likely determine if you have tuberous breasts by looking for common characterics at home. The condition is not considered to be dangerous, but if you want to change the shape of your breasts, you can confirm the condition with a doctor and consult about your options. The following are often seen across most cases of tuberous breasts:
- Enlarged areolas, even at a young age
- Downward-pointing areolas, even at a young age
- Breast tissue herniates into nipple, so nipple looks “puffy”
- Very little fullness in the base of the breast
- Narrow breast base
- High inframammary fold (where the base of the breast meets the ribs)
- Short distance from the areola to the inframammary fold, which causes the downward tilting nipple
- Breasts are noticeably different from each other (asymmetrical breasts)
- Larger than average gap between breasts
While tuberous breasts are not typically indicative of any other health issues, if you have observed any recent changes in your breasts, or if they feel uncomfortable or different from normal, you should promptly schedule a breast health exam.
What causes tuberous breast deformity?
While the root cause of tuberous breast deformity is unknown, the mechanism behind the irregular breast shape is a developmental difference. In a normal breast, the tissue grows evenly in a concentric shape during puberty to create a round breast with a nipple at the center. Tight collagen bands at the lower pole of the breast constrain the growth in tuberous breasts, so tissue does not grow on the lower pole—yet the tissue continues to grow in the upper pole. This creates a downward-facing nipple. Further, the tissue in the upper pole of the breast may press into the back of the nipple-areolar complex, creating the appearance of herniated, or “puffy,” nipples.
How common are tuberous breasts?
Based on our experience at the practice, tuberous breasts seem to be common. However, because they are largely unrecognized as a developmental issue and many cases are overlooked, it is difficult to know exactly how common they are. Our Honolulu tuberous breast augmentation practice is sought after for our experience with tuberous breast deformity, so it is possible that we see more cases than another plastic surgeon might.
Will a breast augmentation fix tuberous breasts?
No—it’s not as simple as that, and thus it’s also extremely important for surgeons and their patients to understand the difference between small breasts, which may be eligible for a classic breast augmentation procedure, and tuberous breasts, which require substantially different treatment to successfully enhance their shape and size.
A standard breast augmentation will not get the same results on tuberous breasts as it would on a non-tuberous breast of similar volume. This is because the narrow tissues of tuberous breasts can not be simply filled out, but rather need to be repositioned to allow for placement of breast implants.
Each case of tuberous breasts should be considered individually by a breast plastic surgery specialist, who will advise you based on the specifics of your own breasts—including degree of breast asymmetry, amount of existing breast tissue, nipple size, breast fold location, and more. Once the surgeon has evaluated your individual case, they should explain the planned surgical approach, which often includes an incision plan like what you would see with a breast lift + augmentation procedure. While you may wish for fewer sutures, it is best to correctly reshape tuberous breasts at the time of the initial augmentation. This is the way to get the shape you desire and avoid unnecessary revisions; rest assured that any scars will fade greatly in time with proper care.
Is it possible to fix tuberous breasts without implants? Will a breast lift help tuberous breasts?
In cases where the tuberous breast patient has a significant amount of breast tissue, a breast lift with a specialized technique may correct the position and shape, leading to an aesthetically pleasing result. But in most cases, patients with tuberous breasts do not have enough breast tissue for a breast lift alone to get the best results. The majority of these patients require a breast lift with implants, and many more severe tuberous breast cases also require a reduction (and often repositioning) of the nipple-areolar complex.
Additionally, patients will often look at their downward facing nipples and assume that a lift will be sufficient, when in fact the downward tilt is caused by a constriction of the base of the breast that needs to be released.
As with any breast surgery, it’s best to go into your consultation with an open mind (rather than guessing at what procedure is best ahead of time). After discussing your goals and examining specifics of your anatomy, your board certified plastic surgeon can tell you which options are most suited to achieving the outcome you desire. They should also show you numerous before and after photos of patients with a similar breast shape to help you understand the kind of outcome you might expect.
How do I find the best surgeon for tuberous breast surgery?
It is critical that tuberous breast patients seeking surgery find a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience operating on tuberous breasts. The surgical procedure for augmenting tuberous breasts is different from that of operating on breasts that developed concentrically during puberty.
How much does tuberous breast surgery cost?
Tuberous breast correction may cost anywhere from $12,000 on up to $18,000 or more. This quoted variation is wide because tuberous breasts vary widely in form, and treatment differs between individuals.
At our surgical center, this “ballpark” fee range includes surgeon’s fees, operating room and lab costs, implants (if applicable), post-operative items, nipple tattooing to mask appearance of scars (if needed), and any necessary touch-ups, which we are happy to provide. These numbers do not include the cost of anesthesia or medication. More specific and all-inclusive costs are provided after consultation.
Remember that the cost of a procedure may be lower for other surgeons, but it is imperative to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience and proven results. Financing can help with affordability; click here to read about your financial options at Breast Implant Center of Hawaii.
Schedule Your Tuberous Breast Augmentation Consultation in Honolulu
Dr. Schlesinger is currently offering both in-office and virtual consultations. To begin the conversation, contact us online or call our office at (808) 597-8835. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you reach your aesthetic goals.