In both men and women, atypical breast shapes can be extremely distressing. One such congenital condition is tubular breasts. Although it’s not a medical condition, the shape of the breasts can negatively impact the self-esteem and happiness of a person.
Those with tubular breasts may feel fearful about showing their breasts and wear padded bras to better fit into certain clothes. It can lead to low self-esteem and negative body image. For these and many other reasons, people seek treatment for this problem.
What Are Tubular Breasts?
Tubular breasts refer to those breasts that have a “tube” or “cone-shaped” appearance. It results from the underdevelopment of breast tissue. The tissue connecting the areola to the rest of the breast is atypically shaped, and the breasts usually end up looking droopy. Both men and women can have tubular breasts.
This condition is usually accompanied by asymmetry, where the size of one breast is larger or smaller than the other. Also, this condition can affect just one breast (unilateral) or both breasts (bilateral). Tubular breasts have also been called:
- Tuberous breasts
- Snoopy breasts
- Areola hernia
- Hypoplastic breasts
- Domed nipple
According to a study published in the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery journal, tubular breasts are quite common in women, and as many as 50% of women who seek breast augmentation or reduction have this condition. Here, it should also be noted that since the glandular tissue is not completely developed in tubular breasts, milk production won’t be normal. During pregnancy, the size of the breasts would likely stay the same and very little (if any) milk will be produced.
Types of Tubular Breasts
In a study published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the researchers classified tubular breasts into three types:
- Type I – The lower quadrant towards the cleavage or midline of the body is deficient and has an “italic S” shape. The opposing outer part of the breast appears large in comparison. The areola is enlarged, and the breasts may droop.
- Type II – Both the lower inner and outer parts of the breast are deficient. Not enough tissue is present behind the areola, and the breasts appear short.
- Type III – All the upper and lower, inner and outer parts of the breasts are deficient. This is the most severe type of deformity; the breast isn’t developed either vertically or horizontally. The nipple-areola complex is significantly protruded (herniated).
Here, it should be noted that there are varying severities of this condition. So, there is no one treatment to treat tubular breasts. The kind of procedure that the surgeon recommends depends on your condition.
What Do Tubular Breasts Look Like?
Tubular breasts usually have the following appearance:
- Narrow-cylindrical-shaped breast tissue.
- The base of the breast is constricted.
- There’s a gap of more than 1.5 inches between the breasts.
- The nipple-areola complex is significantly large.
- A significantly elevated breast fold (the boundary between the chest and the breast) makes the breast(s) droop.
- Absence of the underboob area.
How your breasts appear may depend on how severe your condition is. Your breasts will generally appear tube-shaped instead of round.
What Causes Tubular Breasts?
The exact cause of tubular breasts is not known. However, it is believed that the condition affects the baby while it’s still developing in the womb. One study published in the Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery also reported the formation of tubular breasts between two twins, which indicates a genetic influence.
Researchers in the same study also suggested that excess collagen may play a role in the development of tubular breasts. Consequently, the glands develop abnormally and give the breasts a tube shape. However, other researchers have also suggested that tubular breasts may be a result of a “constricting fibrous ring” around the nipple-areola complex, which results in its abnormal development.
In any case, it is something that you’re born with. The breast will not fully develop during puberty. Some women are unaware of this condition and don’t know that they have it until after they have a child (because milk production is affected).
How To Fix Tubular Breasts?
As mentioned before, the kind of treatment that you need for tubular breasts will depend on the severity of the problem. It usually involves a combination of surgeries and implant placement.
Usually, it is possible to treat tubular breasts through the placement of implants. After administering anaesthesia, the surgeon will make decisions to alter the breast shape. Following that, the implant is placed. It already comes filled in a fixed volume, so the size of your breasts will remain the same after implant placement. The skin is then stitched back up. After the surgery, you might feel pain for some time, which will eventually go away.
In some cases, tissue expanders are placed in the patient’s breasts before the insertion of the implants. The expander is filled with fluid over weeks to months which helps open up the constricted breast tissue. Make sure that you find a surgeon who understands what your problem is and recommends a treatment accordingly.
Since tubular breasts are also droopy, the patient can benefit from a breast lift to change the projection of the breast. It will essentially elevate the breasts. Implants on their own cannot resolve this issue. So, if you want this concern addressed as well, you’d need to undergo this additional procedure.
Another procedure that is quite commonly done is nipple reduction. It is another plastic surgery that aims to reduce the size of the nipples. People with tubular breasts have enlarged nipples that can form the entire front of the nipple. So, this surgery can help improve the overall aesthetics of the breasts.
This procedure can result in pain and discomfort. Underneath your skin, you may also be able to feel the port through which the tissue expander is filled. Your surgeon may prescribe you painkillers for pain management.
Can Tubular Breasts Be Fixed Without Implants?
Instead of getting an implant, there’s also the option of fat grafting, so there won’t be a need for implants. The surgeon will harvest fat from other areas of the body (abdomen, thighs, back). These fat cells are cleaned and the healthy ones are reintroduced to the breasts through injections. This helps increase their volume and alter their shape.
However, keep in mind that fat grafting won’t give you as dramatic results as implants. That’s because there’s only a limited amount of fat that can be extracted from the body. Make sure to communicate your needs and expectations to the surgeon so they can recommend treatment accordingly.
How To Fix Tubular Breasts Naturally?
There is no way to treat tubular breasts naturally or through any other minimally invasive non-surgical procedure. Surgically correcting tubular breasts is the only way to resolve structural problems with the breast. Dieting or exercising won’t help either. So there’s no natural way to correct tubular breasts.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix Tubular Breasts?
In the UK, it can cost you anywhere between £5,000 to £15,000 to surgically treat tubular breasts. The overall cost will depend on the surgical technique and the number of procedures that you’re getting. The location of the clinic, experience and expertise of the surgeon will also make a difference to the overall cost of the procedure.
In Turkey, the same procedure starts from £2,500. It’s cheaper because of the differences in the economies of the two countries. Also, the rent and labour in Turkey cost less.
Keep in mind that since this procedure is considered “cosmetic” in nature, you might not be able to get it on the NHS (still, it can depend on the Clinical Commissioning Group requirements in an area). However, you can discuss it with your GP to find out if it’s possible. Insurance might not cover it either because, again, it’s considered cosmetic surgery. So, you’ll have to pay privately for it.
Even though tubular breasts are not a medical condition, they can cause significant anxiety and depression in those who have them. The severity of the condition can vary among patients. For some, the problem lies in one quadrant of the breast, while it may affect the whole breast in others. Also, in some people, it’s just one of the breasts that are affected by this condition. Regardless, it can result in low self-confidence and make you think negatively about your body. Keep in mind that there is no non-surgical treatment for this condition. It is something that you’re born with.
If you’re considering treatment for tubular breasts, you should consider consulting a plastic surgeon. The insertion of implants can help change the shape and volume of such breasts. Some patients also require tissue expanders before the implants are placed. However, afterwards, you can get additional procedures like nipple reduction and lift to address the enlarged size of the nipple and droopiness that accompanies tubular breasts. In any case, do your research and find a surgeon who can deliver the results you want.