Breast Development Problems and How They’re Treated

Breast Development Problems – Surgery for Big Breasts, Small Breasts and Uneven Breasts

Breasts develop during puberty to reach their adult form in women, however, in many cases this does not go according to plan, and some end up with misshapen or poorly developed breasts. They can be abnormally smaller, bigger, asymmetric, or just have an unusual shape. Plastic surgeons call these developmental breast disorders.

These breast development conditions affect millions of women, and sometimes they go unnoticed – hidden under clothes. For those who are unsatisfied with their breast development and would like to improve how their breasts look, our surgeons offer several surgical procedures to help improve breast developmental disorders.


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Normal development of the Breasts

Breast tissue first forms while you’re in your mother’s womb. The female breasts remain undeveloped throughout childhood until reaching puberty. During puberty, the hormonal changes trigger your breasts to start developing into their adult shape. The breasts will bud and become larger, the nipples will grow and project outward, and the areola (pigmented skin around the nipples) becomes wider. The breasts usually keep growing until the early twenties, however, development and change never really stop throughout life. Some scientists suggest that breasts don’t really take their final developed form until you become pregnant.

Problems of breast overdevelopment – Big Breasts or Gigantomastia

Breast hypertrophy is a term that refers to breast overgrowth, in some women, boobs become so big that they start causing problems. Big breasts cause neck pain, back pain, breast pain, breast ulcers, and inflammation in the underboob area. In some women, breasts reach an enormous size and doctors call this “gigantomastia”.

Large breasts

There are several types of gigantomastia depending on when it occurs.

  • Gestational gigantomastia happens during pregnancy
  • Juvenile gigantomastia happens during puberty
  • Drug-related gigantomastia happens when you use certain medications
  • “Idiopathic” gigantomastia refers to the most common form of gigantomastia for which there is no obvious trigger

The best treatment for conditions that include very large breasts is breast reduction surgery. During this surgery, your plastic surgeon removes excess breast tissue and skin to reduce the size of your boobs and bring them back into position.

Problems of breast underdevelopment – Very Small Breasts

Many women complain of having small boobs, and usually, this has no connection to a specific medical condition but is rather a result of inherited genes. However, there are several medical conditions, associated with abnormally small breasts. “Micromastia” is the medical term used to describe abnormally small breasts. “Amastia” or “amazia” is when breast tissue completely fails to develop during puberty. Other terms that are used interchangeably with micromastia and amastia include:

  • Hypomania
  • Breast atrophy
  • Mammary aplasia
  • Breast aplasia
  • Breast hypotrophy

small breasts

Some of the conditions that cause extremely small breasts include:

  • Poland syndrome: A developmental disorder where your major chest muscle (pectoralis major) doesn’t develop.
  • Turner syndrome: a genetic disorder that is associated with several disturbances in sexual characteristics, including micromastia.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: a congenital disorder that causes large adrenal glands, which in turn lead to severe hormonal imbalances.
  • Other causes: Any condition that causes hormonal imbalance can affect your breast development. Moreover, malnutrition can contribute to or cause small breasts.

Luckily, there are several ways to make small boobs bigger. Our surgeons offer breast augmentation using breast implants or fat transfer (grafting). Breast enhancement using implants can give you large, firm, and perky boobs, and it’s one of the most popular surgeries among women with small breasts. Breast augmentation by fat grafting is a newer and more natural technique, where your surgeon takes fat from other regions of your body and carefully injects it into your boobs to fill them up and make them larger and perkier.

Problems of breast shape – Uneven or Misshapen Breasts

uneven breasts - different sizes, asymmetric-breasts-nipples-surgery-breast-implants-uneven-breasts.

In addition to developmental problems related to the size of your boobs, there are several conditions that are associated with an abnormal shape of the breast and nipples. These include:

  • Tuberous breasts: Also called tuberal breasts. This is a condition where one or both breasts fail to normally develop, and end up having a conical shape, small size, and nipples that appear pointy. Tuberous breast treatment requires special corrective surgery that’s a little different from traditional breast augmentation surgery.
  • Inverted nipples: This is when you have nipples that are flat and not properly projecting outside your breasts. Inverted nipples can be a cosmetic concern and they can interfere with your ability to breastfeed. Nipple surgery can be done to release your inverted nipples from the tissue pulling them inward.
  • Pectus carinatum: Also known as pigeon chest or pigeon breasts. Is a genetic disorder where the rib bones overgrow, causing the middle part of your chest to bulge out, which can lead to misshapen breasts. The appearance of pigeon breasts can be improved and fixed by special breast augmentation surgery.

Rare breast development problems

There are some rare conditions related to breast development, and most of these can be surgically corrected:

  • Polythelia: This is when you have an extra third nipple. Another name for polythelia is a supernumerary nipple. Treatment of polythelia is done by surgically excising the extra nipple.
  • Polymastia: This is when you have an extra third breast. This breast can be removed by surgery.
  • Disproportionate areolas or nipples: In some women, the nipples and/or areolas might be too large or too small for their breast size. Surgical correction is usually effective.
  • Early breast ptosis: In some women who have naturally lax skin or very large breasts, the breasts can become saggy and droop at a young age. A breast lift can help correct this.

Breast development problems causing asymmetry

Most of the described developmental breast conditions can affect one breast rather than both breasts. This can lead to breasts that are disproportional in size or have a different shape or position. Surgical correction of any of these conditions usually restores symmetry, and you end up with two beautiful breasts that look the same.

There’s a wide range of problems that can occur with breast development. Depending on your specific case, your plastic surgeon will suggest one or more approaches to correct the problem. This can include; breast augmentation, fat grafting, breast reduction, breast lifting, or special corrective surgery. You need to choose an accredited plastic surgeon that has extensive experience in breast surgery, and not just a general or cosmetic surgeon to make sure you get the beautiful and sexy breasts you want and deserve.

Read our blog about Uneven Breast: Is Your Left Breast A Lot Larger than Your Right?

Further Reading – Medical Sources:

About Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS is one of Melbourne’s Best Specialist Plastic Surgeons for breast and tummy surgery.

He has been rated as a Top 3 Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne and rated a Top 5 Plastic Surgeon on the ‘Best in Australia’ website. 

Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised tummy surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.

He uses only the highest quality Motiva breast implants and is renowned for his natural-looking, long-lasting results.


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  • Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.

*Disclaimer: Individual results can vary significantly from patient to patient. The information we provide is general. For further information on what to expect for your preferred procedures, arrange to see one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons for a full history and surgical consultation. Read further information about surgical outcome variability on our Disclaimer page.