Regardless of shape, size, or whether she likes them or not, a woman’s breasts often form a large part of a woman’s identity. Breasts, just like any other part of the body, can change over time, and women often see the changes happening right before their eyes. Changes to breast shape and volume usually occur with fluctuations in hormone levels, but can occur for other reasons, and are often useful indicators of what’s happening in a woman’s body. Here are some common reasons for breasts losing volume and changing shape.
The first indication of puberty is girls is often the growth of the breasts. They don’t always grow at the same rate, though, and it can take several years for breasts to reach their full size. Breast development, sometimes called “breast budding,” starts first with a small bump and continues with the nipple and areola darkening in color and growing. Menstruation usually starts two to about a year to two years after initial breast growth.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Breast changes are also among the first signs of pregnancy for women. Along with breast tenderness, the nipple area often darkens and expands during pregnancy. An increase in cup size is also common, and is caused by the expansion of the blood vessels, ducts, and lobules as the body prepares for lactation. Once the baby arrives and lactation begins, breasts continue going through many changes, taking as many as six months to go back to regular size after breastfeeding stops.
Another natural stage in a woman’s life where her breasts may change size, shape and volume is during menopause. While there is a decrease in estrogen levels, breasts don’t actually get smaller. Instead, they are more likely to lose their firmness, getting softer and beginning to sag as they lose volume. Breast density also decreases with age and a larger percentage of the breast is fatty tissue. For women uncomfortable or unhappy with these less positive changes, plastic surgery is one of many options.
Exercise & Loss of Body Fat
Getting into shape is important, but many women worry that exercising too much will cause their breasts to change shape or lose volume. Since breasts are made up in large part of fatty tissue, there is some cause for concern. However, breasts usually only lose volume or change shape with significant weight loss, and because there’s no standard shape or size for breasts it has no harmful medical impact. To regain a pre-weight-loss bust line there are some things that can be done through diet and exercise, but significant changes are better handled by a plastic surgeon.
Taking any substance that changes hormone levels can have an effect on breast size. It isn’t unusual for women taking birth control pills to experience a small increase in size, and antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs are notorious for causing changes including spontaneous lactation and pain. Caffeine and alcohol can also have negative effects on breasts, especially alcohol, which has been linked to breast cancer.
Correcting Breast Changes
While many women are perfectly happy with changes in breast size, for some the changes have a negative impact on their body image. For women unhappy with changes after pregnancy, during menopause, or at any time, there are options for making corrections. Plastic surgeons can help women make corrections or enhancements and, with new techniques that minimize scarring, produce natural looking results.