Roemheld syndrome

This condition is caused by a buildup of fat in the breast tissue. If you have this condition, your breasts will feel full and firm.

You may notice that your nipples are inverted and that your breasts are unevenly shaped and sized.

Breast asymmetry

Breast asymmetry is a condition where the breasts aren’t the same shape or size. While it often results in a small, uneven chest, there may be other symptoms.

For example, you may have a small or asymmetrical breast size, a small or asymmetrical nipple size, or nipples that point in different directions.

Bilateral breast augmentation

This condition is caused by a difference in size between one or both breasts. If you have this condition, it can indicate that one breast is larger than the other.

If your breasts are the same size, but one breast is larger, you may have a breast augmentation surgery.

Breast cancer

Cancer, including breast cancer, can affect your breasts.

If you have a lump in your breast, you should see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

Breast cancer can spread to other parts of your body, including your:

  • Lungs
  • Bones
  • Brain

It can also spread to lymph nodes in your chest, liver, and lungs.

Breast cysts

Breast cysts are sacs filled with fluid. They’re often found as a result of breast cancer or another condition that causes an increase in milk production.

The cyst may be small or large.

Breast implant rupture

Breast implants are surgically placed inside the body to replace fatty tissue.

If the implant ruptures, you may experience:

  • A sudden loss of breast sensation
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Hardness

Breast implants also have a limited life span and can rupture if you have a high body mass index (BMI).

Breast infection

Breasts are susceptible to infection because of the delicate tissue.

Breast infections can cause:

  • Swollen breasts
  • Swollen glands
  • Bruising
  • Pain

You may also notice a foul-smelling discharge.

Breast implant infection

This infection is caused by bacteria or fungi that enter the body through the implant.

It’s most common in women with implants or any foreign body in their body.

The infection can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including:

  • The bone
  • The lungs
  • The brain
  • The heart

Breast implants can become infected if they become loose or leak.

When to see a doctor?

See a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A lump in or near your breast
  • Pain or tenderness in your breast
  • A new lump in your breast
  • A bulge in your breast
  • Redness or swelling of your breast
  • A thick, yellow, cottage cheese-like discharge from your nipple
  • Pain with deep breathing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosing the problem

To diagnose the reason for your symptoms, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam.

If they suspect you have a problem with your breasts, they may:

  • Perform a mammogram. This is a special X-ray that creates a picture of the inside of your breast.
  • Order a biopsy. This is a procedure where a small sample of your breast tissue is removed and sent to a lab for testing.
  • Order an ultrasound. This is a test that uses sound waves to produce a picture of your breast.
  • Order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your breasts. This test uses a combination of large magnets and radio waves to create a picture of the inside of your breasts.

Your doctor may also order a breast ultrasound if they think your breast implants are leaking.

Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for an infection or other conditions.

Treatment options

If you have a breast implant infection, your doctor may recommend:

  • Antibiotics. This is a medication that kills bacteria or fungi.
  • Antiseptic. This is a medication that fights infection.
  • Wound care. Your doctor will clean and care for the affected breast.
  • Drain the fluid and remove the implant. This procedure is called explantation.

If your breast implant has ruptured, your doctor may:

  • Apply a compression dressing. This is a bandage that compresses the affected breast.
  • Apply a brace. This is a bandage that covers the area around the implant.
  • Place the implant in a body cast. This is a cast that will hold the implant in place.
  • Place a breast prosthesis. Your surgeon will place this device inside your chest.

If your breast implant is leaking, your doctor may:

  • Replace the implant. This will help the implant to heal.
  • Remove the implant and install a new one.
  • Replace the implant with a breast prosthesis.

Preventing problems

You can take steps to prevent problems with your breasts.

For example, make sure to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Aim for eight to 10 glasses of water per day.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Wear a compression bra.
  • Wear clothes that fit you well.
  • Wear a supportive bra or support garment.
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Exercise in the morning.
  • Use warm compresses.
  • Use an ice pack.
  • Take pain relievers.

Shop for compression bandages.

Take note of potential symptoms. If you have any of the following, you should see a doctor right away:

  • A bulge under your breast
  • A lump near your breast
  • A hard lump near your breast
  • Swelling of your breast
  • Hardness or lump in your breast

Outcome

Most breast implant problems are mild and don’t require immediate treatment.

If the problem persists, however, you may need to:

  • Have implant removal. This is called explantation.
  • Have breast implants revised. This is called revision surgery.
  • Have implants replaced. This is called a breast prosthesis.

If you have a ruptured implant, you may need surgery to remove it.

Risks of breast implant problems

Breast implant problems are riskier and more challenging than other types of surgery.

This is because implants are surgically placed in the body.

In the time it takes to put in the implant, it can be necessary to remove a part of the skin, a breast, or a portion of the breast.

You may need to have your skin sutured together.

Breast implants aren’t usually affected by the same infections that can affect other parts of your body.

Take note of these risks:

  • Infection. Infections can happen after implant removal.
  • Damage to the implant. Damage can happen during implant removal or during the initial surgery.
  • Leakage. Leaks can happen after implant removal.
  • Leaking skin. The implant and the surrounding skin may become inflamed.
  • Scarring. Scarring can happen after implant removal.
  • Reactions to implants. Your body may have an immune reaction to the implants.
  • Tissue death. Tiny pieces of tissue can be torn from the implant or the skin around the implant.

Take action

In most cases, breast implant problems are mild and don’t need treatment.

However, if the problem doesn’t go away after a few months, you should see your doctor.

They may recommend one of the following:

  • A breast implant revision. This involves removing or replacing the implant.
  • A breast prosthesis. This involves replacing the implant with a breast prosthesis.
  • A breast reconstruction. In this procedure, a surgeon will rebuild a breast.
  • A mastectomy. In this procedure, a surgeon will remove the breast and the skin that surrounds it.

If you’re having breast implant problems, talk with your doctor as soon as possible.

The earlier you begin treatment, the better the outcome.

Your doctor will be able to tell you more about your options and the risks and benefits of each.

Outcomes are often better in minor cases.

In more serious cases, the cost of treatment may be higher.

Take your time

The earlier you seek treatment, the better the outcome.

In many cases, the breast implant problem will go away on its own.

If you don’t treat the problem, it will likely return.

It’s important to think about your options and speak with your doctor.

Your doctor will take a thorough look at your symptoms and your medical history to help determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

The outlook

In most cases, breast implant problems go away on their own.

However, if you don’t address the problem right away, it could return.

The outlook depends on the severity of the problem.

In some cases, treatment can help stop the problem from returning.

If your breast implant problem is minor, you may not need treatment.

The bottom line

It’s possible to have a breast size or shape different from what’s expected.

A number of factors can contribute to breast size and shape, including:

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