Accessory breast is the remnant breast tissue that is found beyond the normal boundaries of the breast, usually in the armpit or axilla. It is also called as ectopic or supernumerary breast. It may occur with or without nipples. It usually affects 2 to 6% of females, though it may occur in males too. They are usually considered benign and harmless. They are rarely malignant but the possibility of malignant tumor or lipoma must be ruled out before removal of an axillary mass for aesthetic reasons.
They are usually soft and painless to touch but may become painful in pregnancy or during lactation. They undergo cyclical hormonal changes during menses, hence like normal breasts become painful premenstrually, these also become painful. Aesthetically, they are not good to look at and prevent a female from wearing cut sleeve dresses. They are lumpy to feel if they grow in size and prove to be a constant point of botheration. Females usually try to cover it under their dresses but that may lead to constant rubbing and friction leading to inflammation of the local skin. They cause movement restriction and one may find it difficult to exercise with a large swelling in the axilla.
Axillary breast tissue mostly consists of glandular tissue or fat. It is prone to hormonal changes in the body. It gets enlarged during pregnancy or lactation period. It is also caused by obesity or genetics.
Unfortunately, none of the available medicines can help in dissolving the accessory breast tissue and the only answer to its removal is surgical.
If the swelling is small and mostly consists of fatty tissues, it can easily be sucked out using liposuction technology.
But if the swelling consists of breast tissue and firm to hard to palpate, surgical excision would be a better option.
If the swelling is soft and small, it can usually be done under local tumescent anaesthesia. Small cuts are made in the axilla and swelling is sucked out through the usual process of liposuction.
If the lump is big and consists of mostly breast tissue, surgical excision is planned. It is preferably done under general anaesthesia as the area is painful if the breast tissue is big and deep. Surgical removal involves removing the breast tissue with adjacent fat as a whole unit and then covering it with the overlying skin.
Incisions are usually put along the creases of the axilla so that they are minimally seen once healed up.
Swelling may make the area larger than before just after surgery but the actual results can be appreciated once it goes down. Swelling takes time to subside, hence actual results may take 6 to 8 weeks to come up.
You would be sufficiently bandaged and asked to wear a compression garment to prevent excessive swelling. Activity restriction is there till 6 to 8 weeks. Pain is usually managed by oral painkiller medications.
The possible complications of the surgery include swelling, bruising, numbness, hematoma, bleeding, infection, and scarring.