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 Breast Composition
 Breast Size Appearance
 Normal Breast Development
 Female Hormones
 How To Choose Bra
 Breast Pain
 Breast Abnormality
 Breast Anatomy
 Investigations & Diagnosis
 Exercises & Massage

BREAST SIZE, APPEARANCE AND CHANGES OVER TIME

The size and shape of women’s breasts varies considerably. Some women have a large amount of breast tissue, and therefore, have large breasts. Other women have a smaller amount of tissue with little breast fat.

Factors that may influence a woman’s breast size include:

  • Volume of breast tissue

  • Family history

  • Age

  • Weight loss or gain

  • History of pregnancies and lactation

  • Thickness and elasticity of the breast skin

  • Degree of hormonal influences on the breast (particularly estrogen and progesterone) Menopause

A woman’s breasts are rarely balanced (symmetrical). Usually, one breast is slightly larger or smaller, higher or lower, or shaped differently than the other. The size and characteristics of the nipple also vary greater from one woman to another. In some women, the nipples are constantly erect. In others, they will only become erect when stimulated by cold or touch. Some women also have inverted (turned in) nipples. Inverted nipples are not a cause for concern unless the condition is a new change. Since there are hair follicles around the nipple, hair on the breast is not uncommon.

The nipple can be flat, round, or cylindrical in shape. The color of the nipple is determined by the thinness and pigmentation of its skin. The nipple and areola (pigmented region surrounding the nipple) contain specialized muscle fibers that respond to stimulation to make the nipple erect. The areola also houses the Montgomery’s gland that may appear as tiny, raised bumps on the surface of the areola. The Montgomery’s gland helps lubricate the areola. When the nipple is stimulated, the muscle fibers will contract, the areola will pucker, and the nipples become hard.

Breast shape and appearance undergo a number of changes as a woman ages. In young women, the breast skin stretches and expands as the breasts grow, creating a rounded appearance. Young women tend to have denser breasts (more glandular tissue) than older women.

During each menstrual cycle, breast tissue tends to swell from changes in the body’s levels of estrogen and progesterone. The milk glands and ducts enlarge, and in turn, the breasts retain water. During menstruation, breasts may temporarily feel swollen, painful, tender, or lumpy.

The Effects of Hormones On Breast Tissues

The breast is responsive to a complex interplay of hormones that cause the breast tissue to develop, enlarge and produce milk. The three major hormones affecting the breast are estrogen, progesterone and prolactin, which cause glandular tissue in both the breast and uterus to change during a woman's menstrual cycle. Because of reduced hormonal levels, the breasts are less full for 1 to 2 weeks after menstrual flow; therefore, it may be easier to detect breast lumps during this time. Reduction of hormonal levels is also responsible for the breast's return to its pre-pregnant state after breast-feeding is concluded.

Breast shape and appearance change as a woman ages. In the young woman the breast skin is stretched and expanded by the developing breasts. The breast in the adolescent is usually hemispherical, rounded and equally full in all areas. As a woman gets older, the topside of the breast tissue settles to a lower position, the skin stretches and the shape of the breast changes. After menopause, with the decrease of hormonal activity, the composition of the breast changes; the amount of glandular tissue decreases and fat and ductal tissue become the predominant components of the breast. Reduction in glandular volume can result in further looseness of the breast skin.

Shapes of Breast

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Breasts are the most definitive organs of a woman, and they also lend woman with grace, beauty and tremendous self-confidence. Actually, breasts are collections of fatty tissues called connective tissues or adipose tissues that are bonded by a layer of skin. The adipose tissues are held in place by Cooper’s ligaments. The terminal end of the breast contains a nipple, surrounded by the areola

The color of the areola differs from woman to woman. It can range from a bright fleshy pink to a darker shade of brown. Also, the size of areola differs. The areola can be so small as not to be seen behind the nipple at all, or it may spread to a wide area around the breast, which could be several inches across. Moreover, the size and shape of the areola (and the entire breast) keeps changing during the lifecycle of a woman.

What's the average women's breast size?

There have been many studies with similar results about women's breast size increases.

According to the results of the "UK" survey  the average bra size in the UK has increased from a 34B in the 1950s to a 36C today.

Lingerie manufacturer Frederick's of Hollywood reports that in 1996, the average size of bras they sold was 34B. Currently, the average is a 36C. Now, granted those who purchase lingerie from Frederick's are not statistically representative sampling of American women. Nonetheless, this change is extremely interesting.

According to The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior, breasts across Asia grew from 34A to 34C between 1980 and 2000.

There could be many reasons for the increase in the average woman's breast size, including over the last couple of decades the popularity of cosmetic surgery and the breast augmentation.  Couple that with the resent advances in natural breast enlargement pills and breast enlargement creams.  So it looks like women actually have been getting bigger as the American and for that matter the world has grown fascinated with larger breast.  Now lets not forget the other major contributor to women's breast getting larger and that is weight gain.  With American's becoming more over weight over the years, that I'm sure has contributed to some of the increases in bra sizes.  If your interested in increasing your breast size we would recommend you take a look at some of the reviews we have on natural breast enlargement.

So how does your bust compare to the average woman?

Cup Size % Women
AA 1%
A 11%
B 28%
C 44%
D 14%
DD 2%


Other Interesting Breast Facts
Cup Size % Women
D cup or larger

16%

C Cup or larger 60%

Types of Breasts

As faces of people are different, so also are breasts. No two women will have identical breasts. The size and shape of the breasts depends upon genetic factors, regionalism, diet, climate and several other factors. Though there are several variations of breasts, some types can be classified broadly as follows:

1. Perfect Breast

The perfect breast shape is quite a rarity. In both medicine and esthetics, the perfect breast shape is the one in which the nipple points outwards, parallel to the ground. There should be no sag and the breast should be supple and well-toned.

2. Swooping Breast

This shape is the one in which the breast slightly bends inwards above the areola. There is no sag however. Due to the bending of the breast, the nipple points upwards, inclined to the vertical.

3. Saggy or plotic Breasts

Saggy breasts are commonly found in women as their age advances. These breasts droop downwards, causing the nipple to be pointed downwards too. Saggy breasts may have more or little volume, depending on the amount of fat tissues in them.

4. Small Breasts

Small breasts are breasts that have very little volume of fatty tissue in them. Small breasts also have small nipples and areolas. There is very little substance between the nipples and the pectoral muscles.

5. Tubular or Constricted Breasts

These are actually a defective breast shape which may be cause due to hernia in the breast tissue. They are visible as tubular or narrow cylindrical in shape, with very small nipples and areolas. Their base is also small, and the two breasts may be far apart.

 

6. Augmented Breasts

These are a severe condition of tubular breasts. There are visible anomalies in the shape of the breasts.

 

7. Pectus Carinatum or Pigeon Breasts

Though these are the main breast shapes seen around, they are not in the least all. There are several variations even in the above types of breasts. Some abnormalities in breasts are also common. Given below are some common abnormalities that are observed in breasts:

  • Many women have asymmetrical breasts. The asymmetry may be only in the shape and size of the breast, or it may also be seen in the shape and size of the nipple and the areola.

  • Some women may have hair around their nipples.

  • Some women may have inverted nipples.

Despite these abnormalities, these breasts are able to perform their main function, which is lactation. Hence, the outward shape of the breast is only for purposes of beauty, and not for physiology

Breast Sagging (PTOSIS)

Most women’s breasts lose their perk with age and extremely large-breasted women will be affected earlier and to a certain degree. But the reasons aren’t related to ligaments or even strictly dependent on breast size. Much more important are inherited characteristics such as skin elasticity and breast density which reflects the ratio of lightweight fat to heavier glands.

There is the tendency for older women to show sagging of the breasts. The sagging is caused by partial deterioration of the glandular tissues that produce firmness of the breasts and some stretching of the tissues connecting the breasts to their muscles. Measures may be taken earlier in life that may prevent, or at least reduce, sagging later in life. They include wearing supportive brassieres during pregnancy, breast feeding, and exercising.

Breast sagging occurs for several different reasons - multiple pregnancies, breast feeding, rapid weight loss, genetics, gravity and age.

Just as all body tissues are susceptible to the effects of gravity over time, the breast, because it is an external organ and not protected from external forces, also undergoes changes over time. The connective tissues supporting the breast are always under constant stretch due to the effects of gravity on the weight of the breast, this effect eventually causes the relaxation of these supporting ligaments creating the sagging effect. Breast feeding is another contributor to breast sagging because of the expansion and contraction of the breast tissue over months of breast feeding eventually results in drooping breast changes in susceptible women. Other women may be prone to ptosis because of changes in weight, genetics or multiple pregnancies.

Another reason for breasts sagging is the lack of the hormone estrogen, which occurs at menopause. This reduction in estrogen affects all the tissues of the body, including breast tissue, and results in a reduction in size and fullness. The milk secretion process is also halted by this time. Much of the connective tissue in the breast is composed of a fibrous protein called collagen, which needs estrogen to keep it healthy. Without estrogen, it becomes dehydrated and loses it's elasticity.

Both during pregnancy and as you reach menopause - make breasts sag even more. During pregnancy, the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are secreted by the ovaries and the placenta, stimulate development of the 15 to 20 lobes of milk-secreting glands embedded in the breast's fatty tissue. These changes are permanent. And although the glands may be empty after they're no longer needed to produce milk, they will still add bulk and firmness to the breast. Once menopause arrives, however, the drop in estrogen and progesterone signal the breast that its milk ducts and lobes can retire. As a result, the breasts shrinks, add fat and begins to sag over and above the demands of gravity. Fortunately there are three ways to prevent, and sometimes reverse, both saggy and stretch marks breasts.

Premature sagging occurs as a result of stretching the Cooper's ligaments that help suspend and support the breast. Breast ptosis can result from a loosening of the skin and suspensory ligaments. Gravity and weight of breasts take their toll over time. Ptosis can also come from a reduction in the volume of breast tissue. This can occur after pregnancy and weight loss.

One of the reasons for sagging breasts is age! As we age, our skin ages too. It does not hold things up as well as it did when we were young, becasue it has lost some of its elasticity. The older we get the less elastic our skin becomes. Thats why so many older women have sagging breasts.

If you are a young woman with breasts that are sagging, it may be for several other reasons. If you are not getting enough support from your bra or not wearing a bra at all, your breasts can start to sag due to lack of support. This is especially true for larger breasted women, and women who may be participating in sports without the proper sports bra. The third reason for the onset of sagging breasts in some younger women is change in overall breast size after having a baby. A woman's breasts generally become larger and engorged with milk in preparation for breastfeeding. Once breastfeeding is over, her breasts may not snap back.

As we age, after pregnancy (or exposure to breast growth due to hormones) or weight gain then loss, we experience atrophy of the breast tissue and it's envelope. From pregnancy or hormone-induced gain then loss -- this loss is called involution. From weight gain, then loss -- this is from the body losing the filling and fat which it had prior to the weight loss. Aging is merciless and we start losing collagen and elastin and the breast envelope begins to thin, weaken and eventually - becomes ptotic (saggy).

After our breasts enlarge due to pregnancy they usually shrink postpartumly. Other changes result from having breastfed, estrogen and progesterone supplementation in the form or shots, implants or medications, hormonal disorders, menopause and lastly age. As we age our skin thins, we lose breast volume due to the shrinking of our lobules due to a decrease in hormones. We also lose body fat in areas where we want it, and seem to somehow selectively gain it where we do not.

Different Levels Of Sagging

There are certainly varying degrees of ptosis which only need certain smaller lifts for correction and other cases which need a full lifting. Following are the most commonly described ptotic grades to help you better determine what you may need.

How to Tell Your Degree of Ptosis

Determine your mammary crease as it is directly underneath the breasts. These two levels may be higher than one another. You can use a ruler if you wish it. The highest part of the ruler should be directly against the junction of the breast and ribcage.

Mild Ptosis

If the central point of your nipple (not your areola) is slightly above or directly in front of the top of this ruler (your breast crease) - you may have Grade 1 ptosis. Very mild to mild ptosis usually needs only a crescent lift.

Mild to Moderate

If the central point of your nipple (not your areola) is 1 - 3 cm below the top of this ruler (your breast crease) you may have Grade 2 ptosis i.e. . Mild to Moderate Ptosis.

Savere Ptosis

If the central point of your nipple (including your areola) is more than 3 cm below the top of this ruler (your breast crease) you may have Grade 3 ptosis i.e. Severe Ptosis.

Pseudo - ptosis

Psuedo-ptosis is when your nipple is still slightly or well above your inframammary crease but it still appears droopy due to the presence of a significant, but somewhat flattened, breast lobe. Usually persons with pseudo-ptosis have smaller areola complexes which did not stretch during the pregnancy or weight gain.

Mild Ptosis, Asymmmetry

Even though you pass the "tests" above you may still feel as though your breasts are too low on your chest wall or that your areolae have stretched out.

Low Breast

Like said above, some women's breasts actually sit on the chest wall lower. They have no ptosis, have good volume and a proper infra-mammary crease, BUT - the entire breast complex is rather low on the torso.