Tubular Breasts

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine on May 22, 2017Written by Kathryn Watson on May 22, 2017

What are Tubular Breasts?

“Tubular breasts” is the name of a condition caused by breast tissue not proliferating properly during puberty. The condition is also called tuberous breasts or breast hypoplasia.

While not extremely common, tubular breasts cannot be considered rare because many women don’t seek treatment. While tubular breasts don’t pose any direct threat to your health, some women may seek to correct it. Tubular breasts can also present problems for women who wish to breastfeed.

Tubular breast symptoms

Tubular breasts are diagnosed based on the way that the breasts look. Researchers are still learning about tubular breasts, so it’s a somewhat subjective diagnosis that can take several forms. What tubular breasts have in common is that they are lacking in breast tissue in both the vertical and horizontal directions.

Tubular breasts tend to have a gap of more than 1.5 inches between them. The area that surrounds the nipple may appear to be constricted, or collapsed. The dark area of the areola may appear to be enlarged. A pair of tubular breasts often lacks symmetry, and one will appear noticeably larger than the other. Instead of a round appearance, tubular breasts may appear to be oval, pointed, or square shaped.

Causes of Tubular Breasts

It’s not exactly clear what causes tubular breasts. Some doctors theorize that it results from something that happens in utero. Tubular breasts don’t become clear until puberty, when breasts take on their adult shape. Often, insufficient breast tissue develops during puberty. In almost all cases, the ring of tissue that connects the areola to the rest of the breast isn’t shaped the way it needs to be. This leads to a “droopy” appearance.

Tubular breast correction

Currently, the only medical treatment for tubular breasts is cosmetic surgery. If you opt for cosmetic surgery to change the appearance of tubular breasts, you should make sure that your breasts have been properly assessed and diagnosed by a doctor that is familiar with the condition. Traditional cosmetic surgery for breast augmentation will not fully modify tubular breasts.

Tubular breast augmentation surgery

Correction of tubular breasts usually happens in two steps, but you may only need one. First, you will undergo a surgery to release the constricted breast tissue. A cosmetic surgeon will perform this procedure in a hospital. They’ll make a small incision in your breast to insert either a tissue expander or a breast implant while you are under general anesthesia. The recovery from this surgery will involve at least one night in the hospital. Typically, people need to schedule at least a week’s time to stay at home and recover from this surgery. Your doctor will prescribe painkillers to manage the discomfort of your incisions.

In most cases when tubular breasts are being corrected, a follow-up surgery will need to take place. The tissue expander, if used, will be removed and a breast implant will be put in its place. You may also choose to have the appearance of your nipples modified in a procedure called a mastopexy.

Cost

Since this is a cosmetic procedure, your health insurance most likely will not cover it. Expect to pay at least $4,000 out-of-pocket if you do choose surgery to change the appearance of your breasts.

Aftercare

After any kind of breast augmentation, your activities will be limited for some time. You’ll need to be careful to avoid any scenario that could lead to an infection, like saunas or hot tubs. You’ll also need to avoid cardiovascular exercise for at least 12 weeks. Acute swelling and “puffiness” will probably still be present until three to four weeks after the surgery, though most of the pain should have subsided.

Cosmetic breast augmentation is performed regularly and is considered to be very safe. In fact, it’s by far the most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States, with close to 300,000 performed annually. But the surgery does carry the risk of bleeding, anesthesia, infection, or scarring. Some people that have breast augmentations lose sensation in their nipples. There have been cases where breast implants are put in the wrong place, or are faulty and leak. These are all things to keep in mind when deciding if you would like to have surgery to change the appearance of your breasts.

Takeaway

There is nothing medically concerning about tubular breasts. Everyone’s breasts are shaped differently, and breast appearance varies greatly from person to person. If you do choose to go the surgery route, do plenty of research on your plastic surgeon. See if you can find a doctor that has performed similar surgeries, or even one that specializes in tubular breast modification.

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