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Tuberous breasts

Seins tubéreux grade 2
Grade 2 tuberous breasts

Tuberous breasts are a malformation of the breasts.

The term tuberous comes from the tuberous root which designates stage 3, the most severe form of tuberous breasts.

The diagnosis is often overlooked or, on the contrary, too often deemed to be stage I in confusion with breast ptosis.

Breast malformation occurs during breast growth in adolescence. No spontaneous improvement is possible.

This pathology which affects the very organ of femininity itself is fraught with psychological repercussions for the young women who are affected by it.

The first descriptions date from more than 30 years ago and, today, effective surgical treatments are available and deliver good results.

Treatment is possible at the end of adolescence, once the breasts stops growing.

What is a tuberous breast?

An abnormality common to all tuberous breasts is the presence of a fibrous ring inside the breast that prevents proper breast growth and means that the base of the breast location is abnormal.

It exists in combination or not with:

  • an abnormality in the base of the breast location
  • a tube or tuber-shaped breast
  • a defect in the development of part of the breasts
  • submammary groove placed too high
  • areola too wide and protruding forward (areolar protrusion)
  • breast asymmetry
  • lack of skin on the chest
  • breast hypoplasia (but sometimes the volume is normal or too large)
  • thin and fragile skin, often with stretch marks despite the young age

There is often confusion between Grade I tuberous breasts and mild ptosis.

Seins tubéreux grade 3
Grade 3 tuberous breasts

What are the stages of tuberous breasts?

Many different classifications are used by surgeons but the most common is that of Grolleau in 3 grades:

  • Grade I: mild form, half of all cases, the lower inner quadrant of the breast is absent and the areola points down and inwards. The breast has the shape of an italic S. Surgical correction is easy.
  • Grade II: the two lower quadrants of the breast are absent and the areola points downwards. 1/4 of all cases.
  • Grade III: the most severe and difficult form to correct, all four quadrants are deficient and the breast takes the form of a hypertrophic tubercle.

Which surgical technique is used?

The technique depends on the grade.

For grade I, classic glandular redistribution techniques are used by treatment of breast ptosis or breast reduction with scars located at the level of the areola and, sometimes, vertically. Lipofilling or breast prostheses are sometimes necessary and areola reduction is often performed at the same time.

For grade II, ptosis treatment techniques are used and associated with lipofilling or the placement of a breast implant and reduction of the areola. The scars are located at the level of the areola and are sometimes vertical.

For grade III, the procedure is more complex and it is often necessary to carry out two operations three to six months apart. Furrow-lowering plasties are used, associated with breast plasty and ptosis treatment techniques. The placement of breast prostheses or lipofilling or even the two techniques at the same time is practically essential. Sometimes local flaps or inflatable prostheses (expanders) are useful. The scars are variable, located at the level of the areola, and are sometimes vertical.

Only a careful examination of your breasts by Dr. Masson can define the correct management strategy and technique to use.

Seins tubéreux grade 3
Grade 3 tuberous breasts

Procedure and follow-up?

Before the operation, you must have one or two consultations with the surgeon and the anesthetist, take a blood test, and undergo a mammogram or ultrasound of the chest. It is important to stop smoking at least three weeks before the operation (it increases infections and, above all, prevents proper healing).
Admittance to hospital takes place in the morning and discharge is possible in the evening or, more often, the next day.
Anesthesia is almost always general and the operation lasts between one and two hours.
Analgesics are prescribed to avoid post-operative pain.
The dressings are simple to do and do not require a nurse.
A compression bra has to be worn night and day for a month.
Depending on the sport, a complete break for 4 to 8 weeks is essential.
It is recommended to take at least a week off work after the operation.
The scars begin to fade after three months and are definitive after one year.
The result is final after one year.

Costs, tuberous breasts rates and health insurance coverage?

For severe forms of tuberous breasts, health insurance coverage is possible. The price depends on the procedure (plasty, lipofilling, prostheses, etc.) and a quote will be given to you for consultation.


Dr Vincent Masson is a plastic surgeon with a post-graduate diploma in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery and a gold medal in surgery from the Paris Hospitals. He is a former senior registrar and attaché at the Hôpital Saint Louis.

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