SOURCE: The Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery

July 09, 2013 16:05 ET

Virginia Plastic Surgeon Addresses Myth of "Breast Tissue Migration"

Byron D. Poindexter, M.D. Refutes Theory That Improperly-Fitted Bras Cause Movement of Breast Tissue to Armpits or Back

RESTON, VA--(Marketwired - July 09, 2013) -  Board-certified plastic surgeon Byron D. Poindexter, M.D. was recently asked by leading bra fit expert Ali Cudby, known as America's #1 Bra Coach, to comment on a question increasingly common in the retail lingerie community and on bra blogs:

Do poorly-fitting bras cause migration of breast tissue to the armpits and back?

Dr. Poindexter is unequivocal in his response: that he doesn't really see it as a possibility.

"I am not aware of any evidence to support this type of 'migration.' It also doesn't really fit with what we know about the breast anatomically or how it changes through time," says Dr. Poindexter, a partner in the Reston, VA plastic surgery practice The Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery.

"I do see patients who have concerns of 'hangover' of tissue in the armpit area. This is not breast tissue that has developed or been permanently pushed there. Rather, it is breast tissue or fat that is naturally there that may be temporarily exaggerated due to and while wearing garments like poorly-fitting bras," explains Dr. Poindexter.

"Some breast tissue, called the axillary tail, can exist all the way up into the armpit area. All breast tissue is a combination of fat and glandular tissue marbled together. Breast tissue can, therefore, increase in size with weight gain and with breast hypertrophy, a condition in which breast tissue is enlarged due to hormonal factors," says Dr. Poindexter.

"Breast tissue can certainly be 'squished' and bulge due to an improperly fitting garment, but the pressure of a tight bra doesn't cause breast tissue to grow or move to other areas of the body. And the bulges that can appear above or below the back strap of a bra is, simply, just fat. Breast tissue just doesn't exist in the back."

Some in the lingerie blogging community also propound the notion that "breast tissue migration" can, conversely, be reversed by wearing a properly-fitted bra. This is equally untrue, says Dr. Poindexter.

"Rolls of fat may take on a round appearance when pushed up, down or sideways by a bra, but these rolls are fat and will stay fat no matter how well or poorly your bra fits," states Dr. Poindexter. "We would love it if there were a way to utilize a garment to permanently restructure an area, but it just doesn't happen. Breast tissue really just wants to go one way, and that is down where gravity is pulling it."

Says Dr. Poindexter, "One instance in which we could consider the body 'moldable' is the condition of grooves cut into the shoulders by bra straps in women with overly large breasts. I don't really see this as tissue being 'squished' out and pushed to either side, but more that the constant pressure and weight of the straps causes the tissues underneath to thin or perhaps even die. An overly tight ring can do the same thing on a finger."

So what's to be done about areas of unwanted fat? Losing weight is the first course of action, says Dr. Poindexter. Stubborn pockets or rolls of fat can also be treated with liposuction.

"Liposuction of fat rolls on the back is different than liposuction of, for example, the outer thighs. I use a different liposuction technique for the back than I do for other parts of the body," comments Dr. Poindexter.

Fat in the armpit area can also be addressed with liposuction, notes Dr. Poindexter, and breasts that are too large or sag can also be addressed surgically with a breast reduction, a breast lift, or a combination of both. "Even bra strap grooves worn into the shoulders by the weight of overly large breasts can often be corrected or improved with fat grafting to the area," he adds.

The right undergarments are still paramount to looking and feeling great, and Dr. Poindexter and his partners at The Austin-Weston Center believe strongly in the importance of the right bra. A properly fitted bra can prevent breasts from sagging and can help maintain a fantastic surgical result after procedures like breast augmentation. The Austin-Weston Center is the only plastic surgery practice in the metropolitan Washington area to partner with Trousseau, a lingerie boutique in Vienna, VA and leader in high-quality bras and bra fitting. Austin-Weston Center breast surgery patients receive a complimentary bra fitting and bra at Trousseau after their procedure.

Concludes Dr. Poindexter, "If you have a concern about the health and appearance of your breasts, always consult a qualified medical professional. It may be tempting to 'consult Dr. Google,' and there's certainly a great deal of information online, but there's just as much misinformation. If you're considering surgery, do your homework and be certain your plastic surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Consultations with me are complimentary, and I'm delighted to answer any questions about breast health and enhancement, as well as questions regarding other cosmetic surgery procedures."

Dr. Poindexter will host a cosmetic surgery seminar on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Dr. Poindexter will discuss the latest news and advances in cosmetic plastic surgery, present photographic case studies, and answer audience questions. The event is open to the public, and members of the media are welcome. Press wishing to register for the event or to arrange an interview with Dr. Poindexter should contact Genevieve Kopel at or (703) 230-2537. General RSVPs may be made by calling (703) 893-6168 or registering online at

Less than 10% of board-certified plastic surgeons specialize exclusively in cosmetic surgery. The other 90% perform reconstructive surgery and some cosmetic surgery. The surgeons of The Austin-Weston Center, Byron D. Poindexter, M.D., George W. Weston, M.D., and Robert K. Sigal, M.D. perform cosmetic surgery exclusively and are the largest such group in the metropolitan D.C. area. Additionally, when compared to the plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery, Drs. Poindexter, Sigal and Weston perform four times as many cosmetic surgery procedures as they do.

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