San Francisco, CA-When young girls start to go through puberty and their bodies start to change, they begin to struggle with self-esteem and body image. They want to be accepted by their friends and can be greatly influenced by the media as to how they think they are “supposed” to look. It is reported that as much as 44% of high school girls are attempting to lose weight. Many girls agonize over breast development worried that their breasts are too small and even try to convince their parents to allow them to have breast augmentation before they have finished developing. Then there is the young woman whose breasts start to grow and seem like they will never stop.
Breast development can start as early as 8 years old or as late as 13. If the breasts continue to grow and become very large, the condition is referred to as juvenile macromastia and even larger breasts juvenile gigantomastia. In the early stage of development, the breast bud will begin to develop. Then the nipple area begins to look a little puffy, but the nipple remains flat. The next stage of development, the breast itself gets a little bigger, and the areola darkens and gets puffier. The hormone estrogen is secreted by the ovaries and is responsible for breast growth. Usually the process for breast development can take 3 to 5 years, but up to 10 years for some. During the time that the breast is developing, girls may experience breast pain and tenderness, and the skin may feel itchy as it stretches.
When the breasts grow too large for a teenage girl, she will most likely suffer physical and psychosocial consequences. The emotional devastation is exacerbated by unwanted attention from classmates leading to destruction of self-esteem and poor body image. Some girls develop such serious psychological problems that it can sometimes even lead to suicide.
Breast size is usually determined by your genes but not always. The amount of body fat versus breast tissue one has can make a difference. If a girl loses weight her and her fat ratio is much higher than the breast tissue, then her breasts may get smaller, although then they may sag as there is not as much fat to fill them out leading to possible breast revision surgery in the future. Teens that are already at a normal weight but want to lose weight in their breasts risk vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Exercise will not make breasts larger or smaller or perkier as there are not any muscles in the breast.
Young girls suffering with large breasts are advised to:
• Stand up straight, hunching over does not hide large breasts but will add to back pain.
• Wear a super supportive bra
• Pick clothing that doesn’t accentuate your breasts, avoid large patterns, horizontal stripes, pencil skirts, and tight jeans
• Avoid necklines that show cleavage
Another option, some girls try to hide their large breasts by using minimizer type bras, while this might help to make the breasts look smaller, the compression can be very uncomfortable and not good for breast health.
The third way some girls seek a reduction of their macromastia is by liposuction, for some this can be a very successful type of breast reduction, but for those with very large breasts, it will only reduce by a small amount. This leaves the most effective way for breast reduction, and that is breast reduction surgery, also known as a reduction mammoplasty. There are risks involved for the younger girl. First, the breast may continue to grow necessitating a second surgery at a future date, there may be loss of nipple sensitivity and the ability to breastfeed may be compromised, and lastly there will be breast reduction scars.
Breast reduction surgery for a teenager is appropriate in some cases, even with the known risks. Almost all women that seek breast reduction surgery state that the removal of the extra weight has freed them of back and neck pain and increased their quality of life, they enjoy having a conversation with people who now look them in the eye.
When parents are aware that their daughter may be facing such a situation, it would be wise to have a consultation with a breast reduction surgeon who is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery to discuss all options and see breast reduction before and after pictures.