What is the Difference Between Axillary Fat and Axillary Breast Tissue? (photo)

When I was pregnant with my 1st child ('99-'00), I developed what looks like bulges that hang out on top of my bra front to back. I have tried to research, but it just seems so confusing! I thought it was fat, so I signed up at a gym and worked out with a trainer for about a year and saw NO improvement in this area. How do I know if this is fat or breast tissue and what type of procedure is best to correct this problem?

Doctor Answers 6

Liposuction could be a good option.

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It can be difficult to differentiate breast tissue from axillary fat without a physical examination.On examination, breast tissue tends to be more firm than fatty tissue.

In this case, your pictures are extremely helpful because your excess tissue doesn’t appear to be confined to your axilla.This excess tissue appears to be a roll of excess skin and fat that extends well onto your back.In most cases, breast tissue is confined to the axillary region.

Under these circumstances, liposuction would be an excellent treatment option.Unfortunately, if excess skin is present, a skin resection may be necessary as well.

If you’re concerned about this axillary roll of tissue, it’s important to consult a board certified plastic surgeon with experience in this area.This surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that addresses your anatomic findings and achieves your aesthetic goals.

Axillary Fat and Breast Tissue?

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Thank you for the question and pictures.

It is likely that the tissue that is of concern to you is comprised of both adipose tissue and breast tissue. I would suggest that you be careful about undergoing liposuction surgery only;  you will be left with loose skin and an unsatisfactory cosmetic result.

I would suggest that you continue to work towards your long-term stable weight,  seek consultation with well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons, and most likely undergo a procedure that involves liposuction/excision of redundant skin and tissue.

Best wishes.

Your excess tissue would benefit from removal regardless of its source

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Your pictures show excess volume (most likely fat, possibly some breast tissue), and excess skin.  The excess volume could be liposuctioned, but the excess skin can be removed by only excision.

Axillary fat and axillary breast tissue

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Puffy axillas are often caused by excess fat, excess breast tissue or both.  In patients who are overweight, it is likely that at significant portion of the tissue is fat.  On physical exam, the breast tissue is firmer than fat.  Fat may be removed with liposuction.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Axillary breast tissue is not uncommon

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We have seen very many with axillary breast tissue, though usually confined to the anterior breast fold under the arm, and not to the back. Given your history you probably have axillary breast tissue, though a large component is indeed fat which has formed a bit of a fold over. Liposuction can help, though the skin excess will be a problem in not removed.

Treatment for Axillary Fat and Axillary breast tissue

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It this area in particular became much larger during the latter partof pregnancy than it contains ectopic (not usual location) breast  tissue. However if you did not have that history than it could be either fat or ectopic breast tissue. In reality, it doesn't make any difference as the Treatment for Axillary Fat and Axillary breast tissue is the same - Liposuction. 

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.