Have you ever noticed extra tissue under your armpits, particularly when wearing a bra? This can be a common concern, leading some to wonder if they have accessory breasts. But what exactly are accessory breasts, and should you be concerned?
Are they breasts?
First things first, it's important to consider if weight gain may be a factor. For individuals with a larger chest, it's possible that the lumps under the armpit are simply excess fat clumps that have accumulated. This is often more noticeable when wearing a tight bra.
However, accessory breasts are a congenital abnormality that can occur regardless of an individual's weight, gender, or body type. You may even recall Chandler from the hit TV show "Friends" mentioning his third nipple - this is an example of an accessory breast.
In fact, mammary glands appear in pairs during embryonic development and can be found on the line from the clavicle to the groin in both men and women. Over time, most individuals lose all but one pair of breasts between the second and sixth ribs on the chest. However, those that remain are known as accessory mammary glands and can appear in various locations on the body.
Accessory mammary glands are often found in the underarm area, and sometimes on the stomach, appearing as small lumps that may grow with pregnancy and lactation. If the accessory breast includes a nipple, it can even function like a typical breast, secreting milk.
How to tell? Accessory breast or fat?
So how can you differentiate between accessory breast tissue and excess fat? If the lumps under the armpit noticeably grow and cause discomfort before menstruation or pregnancy, and shrink after breastfeeding or menstruation, it's likely accessory breast tissue. Additionally, accessory nipples may be present in the area, which can be mistaken for a pigmented mole.
While accessory mammary glands are not harmful to your health, they can affect your appearance and cause some discomfort or pain during the menstrual cycle. Although it's possible for accessory breasts to develop fibroadenomas, malignant diseases are rare, and the probability of accessory breast cancer is far lower than breast cancer.
If the accessory mammary gland is visibly large and negatively affecting your appearance, it can be surgically removed. This procedure is minimally invasive and often involves an incision in the axillary skin fold. However, as with any surgery, there are some risks and requirements to consider, such as avoiding hot weather and selecting a qualified hospital for the operation.
If you experience discomfort when wearing a bra that is tight and squeezes the armpit area, it's best to opt for bras that provide more room and have soft fabric to avoid friction. Hsia bras, for example, have small pockets on the side of the cups that can help contain excess tissue and provide added comfort.
Finally, if excess fat is the issue, making lifestyle changes such as exercising and dieting may be beneficial. Although weight loss is often challenging, it can lead to various health benefits in addition to reducing excess fat in the armpit area.