Q: My 13-year-old daughter is very concerned because one of her breasts is larger than the other. What can I do about this?
A: You can reassure your daughter that many other girls her age also have some degree of breast asymmetry. She may not notice because she sees her friends only when they are fully clothed. As her breasts continue to mature (this can take up to eight or nine years), the disparity may decrease or disappear altogether.
In the meantime, for teen-agers with marked asymmetry, foam inserts can be purchased to mask the problem. Sometimes only a paddedbra is needed.
Examination of the breasts at a yearly checkup is important. In that way her physician can document any change in size and determine when her breasts have stopped developing. At the end of breast development, if there is still a problem, the doctor can help her decide whether surgical correction should be done.
If yes, help her find a plastic surgeon who can review the risks and benefits of surgical procedures without bias.
The long-term complications of breast implants are still being studied. We cannot stress enough that any attempt at surgical correction should not occur until it is clear that your daughter's breasts have stopped developing.
Dr. Wilson is director of pediatric primary care of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.