Exploring the relationship between breast development and breast implants
Breasts can be a symbol of femininity and womanhood; they represent maternal nurturing as well as sexuality. From the 16th century to the early 18th century, women have worn various iterations of corsets and décolleté fashion to emphasize their breasts. Today corsets have been replaced by padded bras and breast enhancement surgery.
From Buds to Breast
Breast development occurs during three major stages: gestation, puberty and childbearing, with changes also regularly occurring during menstruation and menopause.
Nipples and the foundation for milk ducts develop as the female child grows in the womb. Usually between the ages of 8 and 13 (sometimes sooner, sometimes later) girls begin thelarche (thi-lar-ky), one of the first physical changes of puberty. During thelarche, the beginnings of breasts, referred to as “buds,” start to develop.
The breasts continue to change throughout puberty, including growth in size and the development of milk ducts and glands. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years. That means that breasts can finish pubertal development as early as 11 (maybe sooner in some cases) or as late as the early 20s.
Not Yet Mature
Breasts are not considered completely developed or mature until pregnancy. Following conception, the weight and size of the breasts increase, as does the supply of blood. The ductal system, glands and internal structure of the breast expands.
After pregnancy and during menopause, the breasts will eventually lose their shape, volume and elasticity. This causes breast ptosis, or sagging of the breasts.
To Implant or Not to Implant-and When?
Some women choose to enhance their breasts earlier in life. Others wait until after childbirth or during the menopause years. Breast augmentation uses implants filled with either saline (saltwater solution) or silicone (gel solution). Breast implants increase breast volume for larger, fuller breasts.
If breasts are sagging, breast implants will only partially help. A breast lift is recommended for sagging breasts. In some cases, women may develop overly large breasts. To permanently correct this usually uncomfortable condition, women can undergo breast reduction.
Waiting to Have Breast Enhancement Surgery
The FDA has approved saline-filled breast implants for women age 18 and older and silicone gel-filled implants for women who are at least 22. While it is not illegal to get implants earlier than these FDA-recommended ages, most plastic surgeons will likely follow the FDA guidelines.
Young girls or women may be more prone to influence from peers or media. With age comes perspective. Opinions, self-perceptions and what makes a person feel satisfied in life often change. Women should think carefully about why they want to enhance their breasts. It shouldn’t be for anyone else but themselves.
Women can find a lot of information about breast enhancement options online by visiting plastic surgeons’ websites, especially those dedicated to breast procedures. One example is the site of Dr. Gus Galante, who specializes in breast augmentation Indiana. In addition to breast augmentation, the site features detailed information about other breast procedures including breast lift and breast reduction for women who are researching these kinds of procedures.