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Growth Disorder Causes Abnormally Large Breasts

Plenty of people opt to have oversized breasts (yes, Dolly Parton, we see you!), but some women naturally develop breasts that are larger than any pair of silicone or saline implants regulated by the FDA. Gigantomastia, or breast hypertrophy, is a rare disease that causes the breasts to grow to absolutely huge proportions—most doctors diagnose gigantomastia when the patient’s breasts take up 3% or more of their overall body weight. Since not a lot is known about gigantomastia, doctors have difficulty explaining how breasts can grow to these massive sizes. Treatment for gigantomastia is sparse, with hormone treatments in developmental stages and each case having unique characteristics.

Understanding Gigantomastia

Gigantomastia was first described by German doctors in 1948, and was again mentioned by American doctors in the 1920s. As was often the case in pre-scientific time periods, early explanations for gigantomastia included witchcraft, curses, and Satanic work. The disease can affect both breasts, but oftentimes, only one breast grows to an abnormal size. Gigantomastia can be broken down into three main categories:

  1. Virginal hypertrophy occurs in young females, usually around the time of their first period. Breast development is very sudden—some virginal hypertrophy patients report that their breasts grew many cup sizes in a matter of days. This rapid growth is physically painful, thanks to skin and tissue stretching. Treatment is complicated due to the patients’ young ages.
  2. Gravid macromastia is associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding. Further complications of gravid macromastia include suppressed milk ducts and increased breast size with additional pregnancies.
  3. Adult gigantomastia has no obvious causes. Adult women of all ages can suffer from gigantomastia, and breast growth can last for a few days to many years.

Some cases of gigantomastia can be spurred by extreme obesity and penicillamine therapy.

Gigantomastia treatment isn’t very advanced, as researchers have had trouble understanding this bizarre and painful disease. The two-fold treatment involves treating the existing breast mass and preventing it from growing even larger. Large-scale breast reduction surgery removes excess tissue from the breast—and in patients with gigantomastia, that can mean removing up to 100 pounds of growth. Some surgeries also address enlarged nipples and skin tearing that often occurs alongside gigantomastia.

Certain cases of gigantomastia, such as those related to breastfeeding, can be rather prolonged. Breast growth can occur for years on end, or stop and re-start due to a new trigger (like pregnancy). Hormone therapy is often used to counteract stubborn gigantomastia and stop breasts from continued growth.

People with Gigantomastia

It should come as no surprise that women with gigantomastia tend to attract a lot of attention. Onlookers are shocked to see such large breasts, and the psychological affects can be damaging to those who suffer from the disease. Soleil Moon Frye, child actress of the hit 1980’s sitcom Punky Brewster, started developing signs of gigantomastia as a young teen. "I couldn't sit up straight without people looking at me like I was a prostitute," Soleil says. "My breasts became an insecurity." Another well-known case of gigantomastia is that of Isabelle Lanthier, whose breasts grew from an average 34 inches around to over 52 inches during her pregnancy. Lanthier appeared on the Montel Show, raising public awareness of the disease.

Seeking Treatment for Gigantomastia

If you’ve experienced extremely fast or extremely large breast growth, seek medical treatment immediately. Gigantomastia can have dangerous affects on the skin, ribs, lungs, and on unborn fetuses. With that being said, many women deal with breasts that are simply too big for their bodies. Overly large breasts (even those not associated with gigantomastia) can cause psychological problems, serious back pain, spine curvature, and skin stretching. Breast reduction effectively removes unwanted breast tissue for a more desirable breast size. When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, breast reduction also improves the aesthetic appearance of oversized breasts. The surgery can leave breasts perkier, rounder, and nipple reconstruction is also possible.

Breast Augmentation Resources is dedicated to providing researched, accurate information on breast surgery. We can also schedule you a personal consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area, with experience in breast reduction, extra large breast implants, and more. Contact our representatives now to schedule a consultation!

--Marisa Amorasak



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