Accessory breast

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Accessory breast
ICD-10 Q83.1
ICD-9 757.6
OMIM 163700
eMedicine derm/735 

Accessory breasts, also known as polymastia, supernumerary breasts, or mammae erraticae, is the condition of having an additional breast. Extra breasts may appear with or without nipples or areolae.

A related condition, in which extra nipples form, is called "supernumerary nipple" or "polythelia".


It was once believed that polymastia results from the eruption of extra breasts along the milk line during embryonic development. However, this theory is not generally believed today and cannot account for the appearance of nipples that do not correspond to the milk line's pathway.[1] In unusual cases, extra breasts may appear on the buttock, the back of the neck, the face, the upper arm, the shoulder, the hip, or the back. In one case one developed on the underside of a woman's foot.[2]

Polymastia is often associated with abnormalities of the urinary tract and with certain diseases.[3]

Notable examples

Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII of England, and mother of Elizabeth I, may have had a third nipple or even a third breast.[4] (This may well have been a slanderous rumour, as in Tudor times these "malformations" were considered to be a sign of the owner being a witch. The circumstances of her marriage to the king, who had divorced his first wife, made her a controversial figure.)

In popular culture and fiction

Closeup of statue of Artemis from Asia Minor, now in the Vatican Museums, Rome.

In mythology, attributes are exaggerated or multiplied to emphasize their efficacy. For example, Priapus has been depicted with an oversized penis, and Artemis of Ephesus has been portrayed as having tier upon tier of what may be breasts, as tradition has it, or sacrificed bull testes, as some newer scholars claim. Priapus' gigantic phallus underscores his virility and his fertility, while Artemis' tiers of breasts, if so they are, would highlight her ability to nurture.

Accessory breasts and supernumerary nipples have often been the subject of popular speculation and urban legend.

The additional-breast motif has also been used in motion pictures, TV shows, novels and other works of fiction:

See also


  2. Conde, Délio Marques. "Pseudomamma on the foot: An unusual presentation of supernumerary breast tissue". Dermatology Online Journal. 12 (4): 7. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  3. PMID 11500714
  4. [1], PMID 10653061

External links