Puberty can be an overwhelming and anxious time in any young woman’s life. While the process of reaching full womanhood will take longer than puberty, much of your womanhood is emerging during this process. It can be confusing, nerve-racking, and sometimes embarrassing. No question that this is when the most dramatic physiological changes take place and breast development is one of the most noticeable ones. Managing these challenges can be hard but it can be done effectively when the family is informed. The anxiety generated by changes in hip size, and starting a menstrual cycle for the first time can be decreased when young ladies are informed and accept that it is perfectly normal.
A Natural Development Process
In most young ladies, the puberty process begins at 9 or 10. Sometimes, it starts as early as 8 and lasts till 14 or later. Regardless of when it begins, it is important to remember that this process begins and ends at different ages for every young girl and that’s ok. This time period is filled with consistently increasing hormone levels, particularly estrogen. This hormone is responsible for most of the dramatic changes taking place in a young girl’s body including teen breast development, among others. It is the most noticeable change and typically begins with a small mass under the nipples that gradually grows with age. When this mass becomes large enough for a bra, consulting a close guardian or parent is the next step to finding the most comfortable underwear. Full breast development ends at different ages with every young lady but usually takes place over the course of 3 to 5 years. This process takes place in stages:
- The first stage – During childhood, the breasts are flat
- Early breast development – Breast development is associated with a young girl’s first menstrual cycle and begins before its onset. Typically, a few years before the first period begins, nubs will start to appear, nipples development starts and breast tissue starts to form.
- Breast enlargement – Teenage girls’ breasts will begin to enlarge and round out. The areola starts to expand and darken during this time.
At 17, breasts should be fully formed, even though it could take longer. A young lady will notice that her friends will develop at different rates. Many will reach full breast development at different ages and experience their periods at different times as well. Some may experience aching, itching, or tingling during the process, and its perfectly normal. Before a period begins, it is natural to experience soreness, pain, swelling, or tenderness in teen breasts.
Managing Teen Breast Development
This is one of the most sensitive times for young girls and can cause emotional turmoil and self-esteem issues. Some teenage girls will experience challenges with fuller breasts and others will not be satisfied with their lack of breast development. Since this is a natural process, little can be done to influence it. However, there are products available on the market meant to address breast development which may or may not be worth the investment:
- Pills & creams – Advertising for pills and creams that enhance breast development are meant to give hope to those women looking for fuller breasts. Yet, products that are not approved can do more harm than good. They are most often unsafe because they may contain chemicals that are dangerous.
- Exercise – Since breasts are primarily created from fatty tissue, exercise will do little to enhance teen breast development since it increases muscle mass. However, having an increasingly fit body will certainly boost self-confidence. That’s always a plus.
- Weight change – Weight gain and weight loss can have a small change in breast size but it doesn’t always happen. Given that weight gain is inevitable during the teenage years, it may have some effect on breast development. Sometimes, gaining weight can cause breast size to increase and weight gain can cause them to decrease because they are made of fatty tissue.
- Sleeping in a bra – Sleeping with a bra on is not associated with any changes in teen breast development. It is recommended to sleep with a light bra on without an underwire to avoid breast compression and increase circulation. This is a matter of personal preference and comfort.
- Massage – Although this may increase circulation, it will not enhance teen breast development. Doing too much may even be harmful.
- Surgery – With the daily bombardment of advertising for plastic surgery, it’s no surprise that young ladies are often encouraged to enhance their teen breast development with surgery. This is far from the truth and is discouraged. This is not an option for teenage girls and the FDA does not allow breast augmentation surgery for women under the age of 18, with implants not authorized until age 22.
Choosing a Bra During Teen Breast Development
Growing into your womanhood can be exciting but also an embarrassing time in a teens life. When a small mass starts to become visible in a shirt, a training bra may be needed. Additionally, training bras can be helpful in managing the pain associated with this period of time. Comfort and ease are of the utmost priority and it is recommended to use soft cup bras for those more developed. While not training bras, soft cup bras keep breasts comfortably in place. Using underwires are not recommended since they are often uncomfortable for young developing ladies.
Ensure that bras are not too small, as they can restrict healthy blood circulation during the development process. Bras that are too big will be awkward and noticeable. Lastly, avoid the use of complicated “grownup” bras until the appropriate time.
Emotional Challenges of Teen Breast Development
This is a time when hormones and emotions are at their highest, which is normal. Dealing with noticeable breast development, changes in hip size, and getting your first period can be an overwhelming and humiliating experience at times. These changes can make you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Kids at this age can make the process more challenging with inappropriate comments or behavior.
Confiding in a mother, aunt, or big sister can make all the difference in the world in helping to cope during this time. Letting out these emotions with more experienced women will make the process much easier with a support system. As some of the most critical years of a teen woman’s life, a support system is essential for healthy development and reaching full potential. Other physical changes can compound this unease like acne, increased sweating, and body hair. Although all normal changes, they can increase during this time period making a young girl’s experience even more uncomfortable. Family support is absolutely necessary for girls going through this time.
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Whether you are experiencing issues during this time or just have questions about teen breast development, we are here to help. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians and excellent medical staff pride ourselves on personalized and compassionate medical care. We are fully committed to providing excellent care through cutting-edge technology, advanced surgical techniques, comprehensive evaluations, high risks screenings, and genetic counseling. We are trusted and referred by patients and physicians alike. In fact, our physicians are on staff at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center and the Lennar Foundation, Baptist Hospital of Miami, South Miami Hospital, and Mercy Hospital. Request your appointment today!