Adolescent breast development is just one of the many changes that girls have to deal with as they head into their teen years. All the changes to her body can be scary for some girls, while other girls worry that they may not be developing as quickly as they'd like. Knowing what to expect in breast development can help put a girls' mind at ease. There are five basic stages of breast growth, but this article will only focus on the noticeable changes and when to worry and when not to worry.
Initial Signs of Adolescent Breast Development
The first stage is pre-puberty and is typically not noticed. During this stage of adolescent breast development, there may be a slightly raised nipple. Other than that, there are no outward signs of a change. Typically, breast development will start to appear about a year before a young girl starts menstruating and is one of the first signs of puberty. The breasts will initially appear very small and are called "breast buds". The nipple area may appear a bit puffy, but this stage may not be very noticeable either, especially at first. The breasts may be very tender as well. Breast buds can appear as young as seven or eight but most girls experience this stage in the pre-teen years from about 11 to about 12. Every girl develops at a different age and pace, depending upon her own inner time clock, so don't worry if development starts earlier or later. The average age for breasts to begin developing is age nine, but that is just an average.
After Menstruation Begins
Once a young girl's menstruation begins, the breasts will continue to develop. Secretory glands will develop at the end of milk ducts and this system and the fatty tissue will continue to grow to full development. How fast and big breasts grow is based on many factors, but heredity plays the biggest role. The average length of time for the breasts to develop is between three to five years, but some girls can take as long as ten years for their breasts to fully develop.
Worries with Breast Development
As a young girl's body changes, she may experience a lot of worry over these changes. Here are some common concerns:
- Breasts hurt, are tender or itch: This is very normal during breast development. The breasts may itch because of the skin stretching. Time will ease the pain and itching. In the meantime wear a supporting bra.
- One breast is bigger than the other: Adolescent breasts often grow out of proportion to one another. Better symmetry should be achieved by the time full maturity is reached. Most women do have some minor differences in breast size, but nothing noticeable.
- Breasts are too small: Remember that breasts may continue to grow until you are 17 or 18 and for a few girls beyond that. However, breasts do come in all sizes. Very small breasts may be AA and very large an EE. There really isn't anything you can do to change your biological makeup. Try to be proud of your body no matter what your size. Surgery should not even be considered until a girl is at least 19 or 20 as the body is still maturing and growing.
- Breasts are too big: There are a few rare cases where the breasts don't stop growing, called Juvenile Hypertrophy, but this is extremely rare. Again, breasts come in all sizes and if you have larger breasts they are likely in proportion to your body. If you reach 19 or 20 and your breasts are causing back pain or other problems, then you may want to discuss your options with a plastic surgeon about reducing breast size.
Teen girls have to face a lot of changes in their lives and breast development is just one. Hopefully, knowing what to expect and what is normal and abnormal will make this particular transition a little easier to cope with.