Accessory breast (polymastia) and Accessory Nipple (polythelia)
Multiplicity of breast, the symbol of femininity and fertility, has seen with Artemis representing fertility, fruitfulness, and productivity throughout history. Artemis was believed to be a goddess of nature. Dozens of breasts arranged in four rows under her necklace represented abundance and productivity, and this situation took shape in the figures of woman with multiple breasts. However, today’s aesthetic ideas have been totally changed, and have undergone a new formation.
Those who have an extra breast or nipple usually perceive it as a mole or blemish because they are generally very small and are not fully in a the form of breast. Mostly they are not even aware of the fact that they have accessory (supernumerary) or accessory nipple, until a specialist physician tell them what are those formations under their breasts.
Accessory nipple is most often seen in the area just under the normal nipple location. And accessory breast is most often seen in the armpit.
Normally, there are totally two breasts and nipples at the right and left in both sexes. The condition, in which there are more than two nipples, is referred to as ‘polythelia’. Its rate of incidence is 1-2% in the community. And polymastia is the condition, in which there are more than two breast tissues. The both anomalies can be in anywhere along the nipple line.
Nearly 5 percent of the women in the world have a third breast as in developmental variation. An estimated 1-2 percent of Northern Americans have accessory nipple(s). Although the incidence of this condition is equally in men and women, it can be more common in black people and Japanese.
The incidence rate of accessory nipple is equal in little boys and girls; however, accessory breast is more common in girls compared to boys. It is most often seen in the armpit. It is seen at both side of the body in more than half of patients.
Accessory breast or accessory nipple, which is a congenital remnant, develops in the mother’s womb. Despite being rare, an infant can be observed to have one or more accessory breast(s)/nipple(s). We have a great number of breast cells along the line called the milk ridge that extends from the groin to the armpit. If the cells located along the milk ridge that extends from the groin to the armpit cannot show the expected decline, a third breast called “accessory breast” comes into existence. Breast tissue may or may not be available in addition to accessory nipples. Although accessory nipples are usually around the breast area, they have also been observed to be located in the neck, back, hip and vulva.
Accessory breast and nipple tissues usually do not show symptoms before adolescence or pregnancy. During these periods, they grow with the effect of hormones. They can become prominent and can cause pain.
Accessory nipple may be accompanied by certain renal anomalies such as renal agenesis (congenital absence of the kidney) and accessory kidney, as well as congenital heart diseases, epilepsy and ear anomalies. Accessory breast tissues are likely to turn into a tumor. Therefore, whether there is any concomitant disorder should be investigated if there is case of polythelia.
These lesions can create cosmetic and psychological problems. Very large ones pose a cosmetic problem, whereas little ones often cannot even be noticed but any of these two cases is not a health problem. In the case of such a situation, nothing is done during the babyhood or early childhood periods. But when the child reaches puberty period, surgery can be done for aesthetic reasons.