Breast Cancer

Changes in Breast Shape

This page looks at common conditions linked to changes in breast shape, including Ptosis, Nipple inversion and Breast Assymetry.

Breast Ptosis

What is breast ptosis?

  • Breasts can develop ptosis, which means breasts start to sag over time.
  • As skin ages, breasts lose tone and some elasticity causing them to lose their natural shape and firmness.
  • Collagen and elastin are the major structural proteins and are in a constant battle with time and the environment.
  • How these proteins age depends on genetics, but weight gain, weight loss and smoking can accelerate the process. It is also common after bariatric surgery.

What are the symptoms for ptosis or sagging breasts?

  • Breast ptosis occurs when the nipples are below the infra-mammary fold ( bra-line under the breasts). Some women are born with the tendency to develop ptosis at an early age, and some develop breast ptosis after pregnancy, breast feeding and weight loss.

What are the treatments for ptosis or sagging breasts?

  • A breast lift is designed to elevate the breasts and restore a youthful shape and firmness.
  • A breast lift (mastopexy) can be performed with breast enlargement surgery (augmentation) if there is insufficient tissue or fat to obtain the desired curvature.
  • The operation is highly individualized. Dr Cheung will be able to advise you of the safest and most long-lasting techniques.
  • Patients find this operation very desirable as it offers patients an instant lift.
  • The surgery to fix breast ptosis has low downtime, and patients can return to normal activity in 1-2 weeks.

This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your GP or breast surgeon if you have breast ptosis.

    Nipple Inversion

    What is nipple inversion?

    • An inverted nipple or retracted nipple occurs when the nipple pulls inward. 
    • An inverted nipple or retracted nipple is when the nipple is sunken in.

    • Some women are born with nipple inversion but any nipple inversion that is new needs to be investigated to exclude breast cancer.

    • It’s very common to have nipple inversion. 

    • Whilst about 10% of women, and many men are born with a nipple inversion, and it is generally harmless, a new nipple inversion that occurs suddenly over days or weeks, however, should be investigated promptly. 

    What are worrying symptoms of nipple inversion?

    • It is new
    • It is associated with a lump, nipple discharge, skin changes, redness, ulceration

    What is the treatment for nipple inversion?

    • The operation to correct a simple nipple inversion is done as day surgery and is under a short general anaesthetic.

    This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your GP or breast surgeon if you have nipple inversion.

    Breast Asymmetry

    What is breast asymmetry?

    • Most women have some degree of breast asymmetry, uneven breast sizes, or one breast bigger than the other. 
    • However, the degree of asymmetry differs a lot.
    • Some breast asymmetry is congenital (born with it), and some asymmetry is due to previous trauma or breast surgery or treatments.
    • Breast cancer surgery from many years ago and radiotherapy may cause the treated breast to shrink over time and this may cause imbalance and severe asymmetry over time.
    • Many patients who had their treatments performed over 10 years ago seek to restore this  imbalance.
    • Breast asymmetry can be improved by making the larger breast smaller or increasing the size of the smaller breast.

    More concerning symptoms include:

    • A mammogram that shows significantly uneven breast density between breasts. This has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and regular mammograms can monitor this. 
    • Research shows that when breasts vary in size by 20% or more there is also a higher risk of developing breast cancer. 
    • Other concurrent symptoms such as a lump in the breast or arm, tissue that feels thick or firm near the breast or under the arm, changes in the nipple, nipple discharge, red or itchy skin, or dimpled or puckered skin require prompt medical attention. 

    What are the treatments for breast asymmetry?

    • uneven breasts can be corrected through breast augmentation with implants or lipofilling (using your own fat), breast reduction and breast lift procedures

    This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your GP or breast surgeon if you have breast asymmetry.

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