Breast asymmetry is found in the vast majority of women (more than 90%, by some estimates) to a more or less visible extent. Size differences can vary for any number of reasons. Depending on the extent of asymmetry, there may be medical issues, including increased breast cancer risk.
Frequency of occurence
Since more or less noticeable breast asymmetry is found in more than 90% of women, it is the rule, rather than the exception. Asymmetry can manifest itself in the size of the breast, the position of the nipple and areola, the angle of the breast, and the position of the breast fold/root (where the breast meets the chest). The left breast is on average larger than the right (due to the left breast's proximity to the heart; protective tissue over the heart along with increased vascularity both project the breast outward and increase its growth).
Breast asymmetry may temporarily or permanently grow more or less pronounced, or even emerge at any point in an individual's life for a multitude of reasons:
- Shifting hormones (puberty, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, hormonal birth control)
- Water-retention (due to high-sodium foods)
- Weight gain/loss
- Ribcage asymmetry
- Genetics/random growth patterns
- Medical conditions (such as virginal hypertrophy)
- Previous surgical procedures
Having a breast augmentation or reduction can reduce the size difference by either evening the breasts out with an implant or by removing excess breast tissue. In the case with augmentation, some plastic surgeons recommend having implants placed in both breasts so they maintain the same appearance and feel, while others believe an implant in the smaller breast is all that's necessary. Ultimately, this decision is up to the patient.
To minimize smaller asymmetry, a lined or padded cup may help fill out the shape of the smaller breast. For larger asymmetries, try a bra with removable pads or "cookies"; remove the pad from the larger breast's cup, and if necessary, add it to the smaller breast's cup.
Finding a bra that fits
- Main article: How-to tell if a bra fits
The most important thing to remember when finding a bra is that the cups should fit the larger breast comfortably, not the smaller. This way, the cup and the underwire do not uncomfortably restrict the larger breast.
Fruit of the Loom offers the "Pick Your Perfect Pair" Bra, where the user chooses the cup size and design for each individual breast. This service only runs from US band sizes 34-40 and cup sizes A-D.
Regardless of whether or not breast asymmetry is altered, it may still affect development of breast cancer. Studies have found that level of asymmetry within the breasts is a significant predictor of breast cancer development, such that the greater the asymmetry, the greater the likelihood of developing breast cancer. For each 3.38 ounce increase in breast asymmetry (as measured by mammogram), a 50% increase in breast cancer risk was predicted.
- LingerieWeapon.com: "Solutions for Different-Sized Breasts"
- Panfilov, Dimitrije (2005). Cosmetic Surgery Today: "Breast Asymmetry"
- Losken, A., et al.: "An objective evaluation of breast symmetry and shape differences using 3-dimensional images"
- WdxCyber: "Breast Size Asymmetry"
- Jelovsek, Frederick. WdxCyber: "Breast Asymmetry - When Does It Need Treatment?"
- The Bra Doctor: "Nurture Your True Nature"
- "Pick Your Perfect Pair"
- Scutt, Diane (2006). Breast Cancer Research: "Breast asymmetry and predisposition to breast cancer"