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Accessory breast: Can a woman have three breasts?

July 19, 2023
January 29, 2024

Yes, and it’s more common than you think! It’s called accessory breast or axillary breast that appear under your armpit, and with or without a nipple.

Table of Contents

Accessory breast tissue: Can a woman have three breasts?

Yes, and it’s more common than you think! It’s called accessory breast or axillary breast, and basically it’s breast tissue that builds up in other parts of your body, often under your armpit, and with or without a nipple.

The decision to have any cosmetic procedures for them is obviously a personal one, and depends on how you feel about it and what’s involved in the procedure. However, it’s worth noting that Accessory Breast Removal is a practical and clinically proven solution to remove the unwanted tissue permanently.

Before we look more closely at this, the team at Amaris B. Clinic addresses some key questions around the phenomenon of third breasts.

What does a third breast look like?

Anterior and posterior axillary aesthetic lines
Anterior and posterior axillary aesthetic lines [1]

With third breasts, accessory breasts or any type of polymastia – that is, the presence of supernumerary (“extra”) breasts on the human body – the extra breast tissue can appear in many forms. It can be everything from a third nipple (the most common condition, referred to as polythelia) to a fully-formed and fully-functional breast in some unusual location on the body. It can also look like a breast with a nipple but no areola, a breast with an areola but no nipple, or just a small lump of breast tissue with neither a nipple nor areola.

Eight different grades of the condition

  • A complete breast with a nipple, areola and glandular tissue (Grade I)
  • Glandular tissue and nipple without areola (Grade II)
  • Glandular tissue and areola without a nipple (Grade III)
  • The most common grade: glandular tissue (Grade IV)
  • Only the nipple and areola without glandular tissue (Grade V)
  • The nipple only (Grade VI)
  • Only the areola (Grade VII)
  • O‍nly hair (Grade VIII)

Am I abnormal if I have three breasts?

It’s not as rare as you might think, according to an article in The American Surgeon [2]. For example, apparently up to six percent of the general population in Japan has accessory breast tissue, although it is commonly misdiagnosed, usually as lipoma, a benign tumour composed of fat cells. In a few cases, supernumerary breasts can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Women report a much higher rate of polymastia and polythelia than men, but there have been several reported cases of men with accessory breast tissue or an extra nipple. (Mark Wahlberg apparently has one!)

Is an accessory breast or axillary breast the same thing as armpit fat?

Accessory breast/axillary breast
Accessory breast/axillary breast

No, it’s different. Armpit fat is common and may be caused by excess weight, genes or hormonal changes. Appearance-wise, it’s that bulge located between your breast and  your arm, which is particularly visible when you wear a bra or a well-fitted top. Armpit fat can be effectively removed with liposuction.

Loose skin or a loss of elasticity in skin that further aggravates the appearance of this bulge between the breast and the armpit can also be addressed with a combination of Ultherapy and calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA) [3].

How do I get rid of my third breast?

Dr Ivan Puah performing an axillary breast removal surgery in Singapore on a female patient.

According to an American Journal of Roentgenology article, the proven methods of removing armpit fat are with liposuction, and for accessory breasts, with surgical excision [4].

However, liposuction with Dr Ivan Puah’s MDC-Sculpt Lipo technique in the axillary area can permanently remove the excess fat, contour the area smoothly, and naturally retract the skin all in one go. It’s not an easy procedure, though, and it has to be carried out by someone very skilled in this area.

Dr Ivan Puah is seen here carefully removing the axillary breast gland.

Accessory breast glands, on the other hand, are removed successfully with another form of surgical approach – axillary glands excision. This is because this area doesn’t respond to liposuction or any non-surgical treatment.

Depending on the patient’s condition, they would need to do both Armpit Fat Lipo and Accessory Breast Removal in order to get a flat, smooth underarm.

About Dr Ivan Puah

Dr Puah is the medical director at Amaris B. Clinic and has over 25 years of clinical practice in medicine, including 19 years in surgical body sculpting treatments, laser skin treatments and injectables. On top of being accredited by the Ministry of Health Singapore to perform liposuction, he has also received dedicated training in gynecomastia surgery and various liposuction techniques in the United States, Argentina and Italy.

If you’ve tried a procedure before but it hasn’t had the result you want, you can also book a consultation with Dr Puah to understand whether or not you’re suited to this procedure.

Reference

[1] Bhave, M. A. (2016). Axillary Breast: Contouring the Axilla. In Body Contouring and Sculpting. IntechOpen.

[2] Loukas M, Clarke P, Tubbs RS. Accessory Breasts: A Historical and Current Perspective. The American SurgeonTM. 2007;73(5):525-528. doi:10.1177/000313480707300522

[3] Ramirez S, Puah IBK. Effectiveness of combined microfocused ultrasound with visualization and subdermal calcium hydroxyapatite injections for the management of brachial skin laxity. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021;00:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.14573

[4] Laor, T., Collins, M. H., Emery, K. H., Donnelly, L. F., Bove, K. E., & Ballard, E. T. (2004). MRI appearance of accessory breast tissue: a diagnostic consideration for an axillary mass in a peripubertal or pubertal girl. American Journal of Roentgenology, 183(6), 1779-1781.

Reference

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