Pregnancy, weight fluctuation, and menopause all change the look, shape, and feel of a woman’s breasts. For decades now, breast implants safely have helped women feel more confident about their figures.
Millions of women in the US have had breast augmentation surgery. Unfortunately, breast implants have a shelf life, especially the older models. Also, what was ideal for a woman twenty years ago, may not be the best for her lifestyle today. This fact is why many women look to change their implants or remove them altogether at times. There are several options available for these women, offering them a solution more appropriate for their current stage in life.
Significant Changes Through Life’s Stages
From the womb through menopause, the female breasts are always changing. Their development is a vital part of a woman’s reproductive system. These changes happen at certain stages during a woman’s life starting before she is born. Then they continue to develop during puberty, and later during pregnancy and having children. During menopause, changes continue. Their look, feel, and sensitivity will transform during these cycles. Its why breast augmentation surgery is one of the more popular cosmetic operations around the world. Here is a brief synopsis of the natural changes and development the female breasts experiences in a woman’s lifetime.
Breasts start developing while the baby is still in her mother’s womb. The first change is a thickening in the chest area, also known as the milk line or mammary ridge. By the time of birth, the infant’s milk duct system and nipples have formed.
Breasts continue to develop after birth with the emergence of lobes, a subdivision of breast tissue. Then hormones begin to influence the mammary glands. This stage brings us to puberty.
When a girl approaches her teenage years, there are visible signs her breasts are developing. Once her ovaries begin producing estrogen, fat begins to accumulate in the connective tissue. This collection of fat causes her bustline to start growing. The milk duct system will also become larger. Then the body moves toward menstruation.
Once menstruation and ovulation start, the breasts begin to mature with the formation of secretory glands on the milk ducts. The milk duct system and breasts continue to mature and grow as the body develops many lobules and glands. The rate of growth varies from woman to woman.
There are times when the breasts do not develop properly in puberty, causing issues like asymmetry or abnormal shapes. In these cases, it’s appropriate to seek help from a plastic surgeon for aesthetic correction.
Every 30 days or so, women go through hormonal changes which make up their menstrual cycle. The first part of the menstruation period involves the ovaries producing estrogen. This hormone will cause the milk ducts to grow. An increase in estrogen levels will lead to ovulation halfway through the menstrual period. Then progesterone dominates the second half of her cycle. This hormone stimulates the development of the milk glands. The emergence of these hormones may be responsible for the changes many women feel happening in their breasts right before menstruation, like soreness, pain, and swelling.
Breast texture may also change during menstruation. The breasts may feel lumpy because the glands are getting larger, preparing for a possible pregnancy. When pregnancy doesn’t happen, the breasts return to their natural size. Then the cycle begins again about a month later.
Pregnancy and Milk Production
Many physicians believe the breasts don’t fully develop until pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The changes the breasts experience is one of the initial signs of pregnancy. The hormone progesterone will trigger this change. The dark areas around the nipples (areola) will begin to swell, then the breasts themselves will grow as well. Most women experience nipple soreness, tingling, and tenderness along the sides of her breasts. These sensations are a result of the milk duct system growing and the formation of more lobules.
During the second trimester, the breast will become fully capable of producing milk. Like during puberty, estrogen will cause milk duct growth, and progesterone will cause glandular bud formation. Other physical changes include visible blood vessels and larger and darker areola. When the mild ducts grow with milk production, then shrinks when they no longer produce milk, breast size, shape, and firmness may be affected.
When a woman gains, then loses weight, it can affect her breast size and shape. Although these fluctuations affect women differently, there is a change that happens. The change becomes an issue when the changes are significant in breast size and shape. Some women increase a cup with a 20 lb. weight gain while others it may take 50 lbs. to grow that much. Each person gains weight more readily in different parts. When breast tissue is dense, increasing size in that area is less likely. When breast composition has more fatty tissue, the possibility of increasing breast size with weight gain is higher.
But the real problem with breast appearance during weight fluctuation is with the shape. Breasts tend to sag when a woman gains, then loses weight. Think of a balloon filled with air, then let some air out. The balloon becomes saggy and stretched. The same effect can happen with breast skin tissue, like when milk ducts enlarge then go back to original their size after childbirth.
When women reach their 40s and early 50s, the later stages of breast changes occur. There becomes a greater fluctuation of hormonal development with estrogen levels decreasing. With this reduction, glandular tissue drops. Without estrogen, the breasts’ connective tissue becomes inelastic and dehydrated, with breast tissue shrinking. Sagging breasts may result or increase.
Keeping Up with the Changes
Okay, now that we’ve discussed the changes which can happen with your breasts throughout the different stages of life, now let’s talk about what you can do about them. Although some women opt for breast surgery as young as their early 20s because of size, shape, or symmetry issues, most women seek cosmetic improvement after 30. These women may be satisfied with the breasts they were born with, but life events like the ones mentioned above have made a negative impact on how they look and feel. They are reacting to the changes life throws at them. Their breasts droop and sag and are smaller than before having children, or after they lost weight.
Most women can expect their breasts to have some type of change every ten years. There are different choices for different women to keep up with these aesthetic changes in the area that most defines her femininity.
When the look and feel of your breasts are not what you want at this stage in your life, you have options. These change from patient to patient and from life stage to life stage. They include:
Increasing size, improving the shape, and resolving asymmetry are why many women choose breast implants. Breast augmentation surgery is popular with women who have lost tissue volume and density, causing their breast to shrink and sag. It is also helpful for girls whose breasts don’t develop fully, correcting asymmetry or abnormal contours. Breast enhancement will help improve or restore a woman’s breast appearance when she’s still feeling young and vibrant.
A breast lift is for a woman who worries more about elevation than size or shape. This procedure helps women, especially those over 40, to reclaim their perky, uplifted breasts. When the breasts lose that sexy upward curve and the nipples point down, a breast lift can improve their position and firmness.
Many women who were happy with their implants when they were younger, now find themselves ready for a change. Whether the implants need to be upgraded, or they no longer fit the lifestyle of the patient, implant removal and replacement can be a viable solution to women who’ve had breast augmentation surgery in the past. We are finding a trend with women going down in size for a more active, comfortable lifestyle.
A common reason why women seek to remove implants is that they are too large for their current lifestyle. Or the implants are wearing out, resulting in implant rupture or hardening. Although they enjoyed these enhancements in their 20s or 30s, now that they’ve reached their 50s, they need another change. Comfort is another factor, especially for the more active lifestyles.
When a patient finds that having implants is less desirable now than in the past, they choose to remove them without replacement. During implant removal surgery, adding a breast lift offers support once provided by the implants. It will also remove any excess skin or tissue which remains.
When You Choose to Make a Change
If you are at a time in your life when you want to make changes in your breasts contour and size, here are some necessary steps you should consider:
Choose a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Whether you are looking to increase, decrease, or improve shape and elevation through breast surgery, only a plastic surgeon will suffice. These healthcare professionals have more extensive training, experience, and defined ethical standards than other physicians or surgeons. Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery ensures your surgeon has been thoroughly vetted and trained to be one of the best in their field.
Schedule a Consultation
When considering breast surgery, the consultation process is essential. It should provide you with information on which procedure is best to meet your aesthetic goals. Whether this includes inserting implants or removing them, increasing or reducing breast size, or helping you improve your quality of life, you should find a surgeon with whom you are comfortable.
Be wary of sales pitches that have a one-size-fits-all feel to them. Your consultation is an opportunity to learn not only about the procedure but your surgeon as well. Ask questions. Voice any concerns you may have. Look for a surgeon who is passionate about their practice and enjoys helping patients achieve their desired outcome.
Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville has two of the leading plastic surgeons in the Nashville area. Drs. Melinda Haws and Mary Gingrass are board-certified, and both have been featured on local and national media as experts in their field. Each has been honored with prestigious awards like top 500 doctors and the Real Self 500 award. They are regulars on the Plastic Surgery Channel and have multiple information videos to help patients understand aesthetic procedures clearly.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today or call 615-467-6777 to ask your specific questions. We look forward to hearing from you!