Micromastia: When Small is Not Beautiful

Like all girls setting out on the journey through puberty, Anna (not her real name) was excited to see her nipples begin to swell. She knew it was the beginning of her journey to being a woman. But, in the years that followed, her breasts stubbornly refused to grow. Other girls had swelling breasts, were fitted for bras in ever increasing sizes, but Anna had nothing to put inside a bra.

By the time she reached her early twenties, Anna was forced to accept that she was unlikely ever to have the breasts she wanted. The padded bra became a permanent fixture, and, in spite of a healthy respect for herself in every other way, this lack of a ‘woman’s shape’ haunted her.

A Common Condition with a Name

When finally she plucked up the courage to consult a cosmetic doctor, she learned that her condition wasn’t unique, and further, it actually had a name. Micromastia is the name given to the condition resulting from a failure of the breasts to develop. It can be bilateral (both breasts affected) or unilateral (one breast is significantly smaller than the other).

There is no ‘normal’ breast size, and therefore micromastia cannot be defined in absolute terms. It is at least partly defined by comparison with ‘average’ sizes, and partly by a woman’s perception of her body and its proportions. It can vary from there being almost no breast tissue at all to breasts that are developed, but smaller than the woman feels is appropriate for her body shape. Under-developed breasts may lack fullness in any or all of the ‘sectors’ of the breast, that is, above, below or to each side of the nipple.

Odd Sizes

Unilateral micromastia is more easily defined, because one breast will be significantly smaller than the other. Most women have a slight difference in size between one breast and the other, just as most faces are not entirely symmetrical.

Unilateral micromastia occurs when the difference in size is significant: a half-cup difference in size, for example, can be quite noticeable. Sometimes the difference can be much greater – for example, one breast might be a C-cup and the other an A-cup. This can affect a woman’s self-image and her ability to enjoy wearing clothes, particularly briefer clothing in hot weather.

Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breast implant surgery can address the problems of both bilateral and unilateral micromastia. The surgeon will advise on the appropriate size, shape and position of the implants. For bilateral micromastia, both the implants will be the same size. For unilateral micromastia, the surgeon will use implants that will help the breasts appear as similar in size as possible.

There are thousands of ‘Annas’ who have benefited from breast augmentation surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons believes that more breast augmentations are performed than any other type of cosmetic surgery.

It is important that anyone contemplating breast augmentation surgery consults a reputable doctor to have a full examination and discussion about the procedure. For more information about breast augmentation surgery, and to see ‘before and after’ pictures, please visit www.brisbanecosmetic.com.au