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UNDERSTANDING ADOLESCENCE

This condition may cause concern

DR S. YAMUNA

Girls suffering from macromastia may suffer from neck, shoulder and back pain.



INCREASED FAT DEPOSITS: Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential. PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G. P.

Of late fifteen-year-old Priya has been withdrawn and has confined herself to the house. Her parents are puzzled and are trying to find possible reasons for this behaviour. Then one day, Priya broke down and said that her breasts have been a source of major concern for her.

Priya has been chubby since childhood. She attained menarche around 12 years, and has continued to be big built. She has not been able to wear well-fitting clothes as she feels that she would be attracting unwanted attention. She prefers to wear clothes which she thinks would conceal her overgrown breasts.

Macromastia or overgrown breasts is a condition where girls have large breasts due to increased fat deposition during the development of breasts. Sometimes there is a heightened sensitivity to the estrogen in circulation. There are no size standards to define the condition. Girls with macromastia go through symptoms depending on the anatomic and external support provided to the breasts.

Associated problems

They have neck, shoulder and back pain. This may be associated with postural abnormalities, which are assumed in an attempt to mask the size of the breasts. Due to sagging, the girls may develop fungal infection below the breasts, where they come in contact with the lower chest wall and/or shoulder grooving caused by the pressure exerted by the brassiere straps.

Some girls make the mistake of wearing tight fitting brassieres in an attempt to reduce the revealed breasts. This results in overflowing in the axillary region, which gives a different shape and contour to the mammary glands.

There is no medical treatment to reduce the breast size. In the presence of symptoms, cosmetic surgeons can help in surgically by reduction mammoplasty. But these procedures are usually done only after the completion of the growth of the breasts.

Girls should accept the size as their normal and learn to maintain normal posture. They have to exercise regularly and have a balanced diet with recommended fat only; especially not exceeding the fat content during the growing phase. Breasts should be supported from the stage of budding, with an adequately fitting brassiere and the tissue should not be squeezed.

Dr. S. Yamuna is a Chennai based consultant paediatrician and adolescent physician.

E-mail: dryamunapaed@yahoo.com

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