Jennifer Lawrence has uneven breasts.
“I got a chest X-ray of my lungs and discovered that my breasts are uneven,” the "Silver Linings Playbook" star recently told Jimmy Kimmel.
The Oscar-nominated actress added that while the asymmetry of her breasts doesn’t particularly upset her, she hopes that “no one will ever see my breasts in an X-ray.”
As it turns out, Lawrence isn’t alone. In fact, it’s rather common for women to experience breast asymmetry, says David Kaufman, MD, Chief of Breast Surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital on New York’s Long Island. And like Lawrence, most women aren’t aware they have it.
“You live with it. You see it, feel it, touch it, every day,” Dr. Kaufman explains, “but it takes a trained eye to see something you might not recognize.”
In many non-severe cases of asymmetry, the difference in size is so subtle that it can be measured in centimeters or millimeters, says New York City-based plastic surgeon Stafford Broumand, M.D. No wonder it’s hard to tell.
“You just have to be perceptive," Dr. Broumand says. “Most people's faces aren’t symmetric either.”
According to Dr. Kaufman, some women with breast asymmetry first discover a variation because they are experiencing pain or discomfort on one side of the body, especially if they wear bras with underwire.
Frequently, women size their bras off the smaller breast, which results in the squeezing and subsequent discomfort of the larger breast, Dr. Kaufman explains.
So what causes the variation in breast size? The list ranges from musculoskeletal structure to the presence of certain diseases.
Misaligned posture, hormones, genetics, breast feeding or pregnancy, and in rare cases, tumor or infection are the most common causes of breast asymmetry, says Dr. Kaufman.
“It’s not a medical problem as much as it is a cosmetic issue,” Dr. Kaufman says, pointing out that the biggest impact may be on a woman’s self-confidence. “They’re self-conscious in and out of clothing,” he says.
If you’re one of the many women who has slightly different breast sizes, there are several things you can do about it.
“You can do nothing, and that is a great option,” says Dr. Broumand, who also recommends getting creative with your clothing if asymmetry is making it difficult to get the perfect fit.
Short of a full-blown surgical procedure, options to even out asymmetrical breasts including tightening the skin and injecting a bit of fat, Dr. Broumand says.
Looking and feeling your best is one thing, but are asymmetric breasts a cause for concern?
Noticing a slight variation in breast size does not mean there’s any reason to panic, Dr. Kaufman says “However, [you] shouldn’t ignore it.”
And as Dr. Broumand adds, “Generally no, but yes it can be. If you’re at an age or high-risk factor, a change in the shape of the breast should be looked into.”