Breast Shape and Size

Breast size and shape is both genetic and hormonal, with a bit of modification by weight and underlying muscle development. So we do have a bit of control over what size our breasts are.  Fetal life is when the breasts first begin what is called differentiation, or what most of us think of as development. It should not come as a surprise to those of us thinking about it that actually hormonal exposure in fetal life can have an actual impact on breast size and shape in later life, as there is programing of many of the body tissues during fetal life. It is thought that this fetal programing then sets the stage for puberty and the amount of breast development that occurs then. The development at puberty can also produce general enlargement of the breast called breast hypertrophy, this will resolve and the breasts will then be in the normal size range. Sometimes in puberty the rapid acceleration in hormone exposure can cause temporary lumps or cysts that will expand the breasts, but that effect usually resolves, and is usually not medically problematic. Once breast development occurs each breast may grow at their own pace, and most women will end up fairly (but not exactly) symmetrical. Breast tissue is mostly the breast ducts, and some fat. Breasts do have underlying stronger ligament or fascia support. Another rare condition of the breast is for these structures to be constricted so the breasts can only grow in a forward, but not a sideways dimension. The end result of this condition is that the breasts are very narrow and longer than wide, known as tubular breasts. Hormone treatment has been reported to be able to cure this condition. Rarely a sports injury or other trauma to the breast can do enough damage that a breast bud will be damaged and never develop. Nipple shape and color may vary as well, and the nipple changes may indeed be hormonally (and sun exposure) influenced. If a young girl has a hormonal medical issue and doesn't get any breast development, then she will be able to achieve some breast development if a gyno gives her estrogen. But for most women, hormone use will only increase the breasts slightly, and it's not a permanent change. For those who use hormones to increase breast development, the amount of breast size change will only continue for as long as the hormone use continues. The muscles underlying the breasts can be built up enough to produce the impression of larger breasts, but again, after the exercise stops, the perceptual improvement will decrease. Very large or very small, or very abnormally shaped breasts can only be corrected by surgery.


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