Research Article| Volume 60, ISSUE 5, P455-464, May 2007

The tuberous breast revisited

  • Marc D. Pacifico
    Corresponding author. Address: Department of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, The Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG, UK. Tel.: +44 020 7794 0500.
    Department of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 2RN, UK
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  • Norbert V. Kang
    Department of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 2RN, UK
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Published:February 26, 2007DOI:



      The tuberous breast presents a problem for which many surgical solutions have been described. Current teaching describes how the tuberous breast deformity is the result of skin shortage as well as herniation of breast tissue through the nipple–areola complex. However, through careful clinical observation we now believe that the only abnormality present is herniation of breast tissue through the nipple–areola complex.


      Using this principle, we have refined a one-stage surgical procedure that can be used to correct any type of tuberous breast deformity. Since 2001 we have performed our technique on a series of 13 tuberous breasts of widely varying appearances in eight patients (age 17–24 years) with a follow up varying between 3 and 56 months. Our new understanding of the tuberous breast deformity has also made it possible to develop an objective, reproducible method for defining the tuberous breast based on the degree of areola herniation.


      All patients reported high levels of satisfaction with the procedure. Assessment of the results by an independent panel of attending surgeons showed all results to be good/excellent. Moreover, the results have improved with time and no revisions have been needed. Our method of defining the tuberous breast (based on the ratio of areola herniation:areola diameter) enabled us to identify a cut-off to decide (objectively) when a breast was tuberous. This allowed us to anticipate when an areola reduction/tightening procedure would be necessary to avoid a ‘double-bubble’ deformity.


      We propose a one-stage surgical procedure which is applicable to all degrees of tuberous breast deformity. The results appear to confirm our theory that the only abnormality present in the tuberous breast is herniation of breast tissue through the nipple–areola complex. In patients with small breasts and a tuberous deformity, correction of the herniation changes the tuberous breast into a simple hypoplastic breast. The volume deficit can then be corrected by augmentation (if desired by the patient). In patients with sufficient breast volume, correction of the herniation alone will correct the deformity.


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