Assoc. Prof. Dr. Supakorn Rojananin
Fundamentally, breasts are the organs of milk production which are used to feed the offspring among mammals. The female breasts begin to grow at the age of 10 to 11 years old and come to the peak around 20 to 24 years. Breast development is influenced by the sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone which are produced by ovaries and regulated by the pituitary gland in the brain. Breasts are composed of skin, nipple-areola complex, mammary ducts, mammary lobules or glands, connective tissue, ligament and fatty tissue. Both breasts in individual woman are not completely identical in size and shape. Breast size also varies depending on genetics and nutrition rather than weight and height.
Physiologically, breast size slightly varies between menstruation cycles on each month due to hormonal change. The breasts become most engorged and fullness from fluid retention at one week before menstruation period.
Breast size is also increased when women get fat. This is due to the accumulation of fat in the fat cells, not the fat cells proliferation. However, breasts can be one to two times larger than normal during pregnancy and breast feeding. The blood vessels within the breast enlarge as surges of estrogen stimulate the growth of ducts and progesterone causes the glandular tissue to expand or sprout. The size of the growing breast does not persist but becomes shrinking to the previous size when woman stops her breast feed. The shrinkage may bring to the sagging of the breast and skin becomes striate.
Breast size can increase again when a woman reaches menopause when sex hormones are depleted. The glandular tissue will be atrophic or shrink and is replaced with fatty tissue. Breast sagging is also observed due to the loss of strength of the fibrous ligament.
Since today, women pay more attention to the size of their breasts as well as the shape and the fullness. The question is that are there any ways to enlarge the breasts? The answer is yes but!
Aside from surgery and pregnancy, all other ways can enhance the breast only in a considerate degree, not more than 10 to 20 % from the previous size.
Chest exercises can indirectly enhance the breast by building up chest muscles which can push the breasts outward and protruding, giving them the appearance of being a bit larger. The recent claim of breast exercise by massage which can grow the breast by shifting of the fatty tissue from the side is impossible since fat can not be manually transferred. However, gentle breast massage with or without moisturizer can preserve the skin elasticity, maintain the breast fullness and shape and prevent from being sagged too early from gravity.
Birth control pills can bring the fullness and enhance the breasts but it alters the hormone balance as well as breast pain and breast cyst formation.
Recently, there have been many breast enhancement products in the markets and all claimed to increase the breast size successfully. Most of the products are herbal creams containing a well known phytoestrogen or Kwao Krua or Pueraria mirifica as an ingredient. Phytoestrogen was claimed to have the same effect to the body as the female estrogen. However, most of the creams are unreliable and have no scientific back up of their results. The hazard of long term use is questionable since estrogen is the main factor for the growing of breast cancer.
Some forms of foreign body such as paraffin, silicone and vegetable oil had been used to enlarge the breast by direct injection. This method is now considered as a malpractice and is no longer used because of high risk of complications, such as bacterial infection, foreign body granulomas (hard and tender lump), loss of skin and excess scar formation and misshapen breasts. Since both paraffin and silicone are radio-opaque materials, their presence in the breast tissue will obscure the early detection of breast cancer with mammogram.
Injection of one own fat, harvested from another area by suction, to the breasts had been done by some surgeons. The volume of fat should be large amount enough to enlarge a breast. Since it is avascularized fat, most will not survive and be liquidified and cause scarring and calcium deposits that can mimic cancer change on mammograms. This would lead to unnecessary biopsies in later years and is certainly not a good idea.
The only way to double or triple the breast size is the use of breast implants by surgery. Millions of women had used this method since 1964. However, it is not out of complications, before your decision to procede, discussion in detail with your surgeons about the short and long term effects and how the surgery carrying on is mandatory.