Breasts come in all different shapes and sizes in nature. Women with small breasts, large breasts, and any size in between fall on the spectrum of normal development. However, a number of breast deformities do exist. One of these is Tuberous Breast Deformity (TBD), more commonly referred to as tuberous breasts. This is a congenital condition that women and some men are born with that becomes apparent when their breast tissue does not develop normally. It is not certain what causes this abnormality, but the results of one study of breast tissue specimens in 2011 suggest that it is genetic involving a disorder of collagen deposition.
Women with this condition do not merely have small breasts; tuberous breasts are structurally different from normally developed breasts in that the have an elongated, tubular shape. Characteristics of tuberous breasts include: “enlarged, puffy areola, unusually wide spacing between the breasts, minimal breast tissue, sagging, higher than normal breast fold, and narrow base at the chest wall.” However, tuberous breasts exist along a spectrum, with mild cases having just a slightly shorter than ideal fold to nipple distance and extreme cases having all the above mentioned deformities, so not all tuberous breasts look alike.
Tuberous breasts develop abnormally. The breast tissue that does grow herniates into the nipple. This is not a health concern, but some women with tuberous breasts cannot breastfeed their babies because their milk glands are too underdeveloped to produce milk.
How many women have tuberous breasts?
It’s difficult to say. It’s estimated that between 1 and 5% of breast augmentations done are due to TBD, but many women suffer unhappily with this condition and never try to get any kind of treatment. Some of them become so ashamed of their breasts that they hide them from everyone. They report that having TBD negatively impacts their sense of self, making them feel worthless or less than desirable or womanly. It can have a bad effect on their romantic relationships as well.