Trivia: All about breasts
A thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology is required to perform cosmetic surgery on the breast, but some of the most fascinating facts about breasts aren’t essential knowledge in the operating room. The plastic surgeons at Atlanta-based Advanced Aesthetics share a few of their favorites.
- There are nearly 319 million female breasts in the United States alone. Humans are the only species with permanently enlarged breasts, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
- Breasts range in weight from 0.5 to 20 pounds, with the average at 1.1 pounds. While large breasts often seem desirable to women, excessively heavy breasts can cause chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, leading many women to seek breast reduction surgery.
- The average U.S. woman wears a size 36C bra, up from a 34B in 1995. The popularity of breast augmentation may be a factor in this rise—the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports 286,000 procedures in 2012, making it the most popular cosmetic surgery for the year. However, Americans’ trend toward obesity is most likely a key reason for this change—fat is a major component of breasts.
- An A cup holds about 8 fluid ounces (a single cappuccino); a D cup, 27 fluid ounces (just over 2 cans of soda). These measurements are approximate, and one cup size can look dramatically different on two different women depending on their frame and body type.
- Most women have one breast larger than the other, usually the left one. While the difference is often slight, significant asymmetry can make it difficult to wear bras or swimsuits. Many women seek breast augmentation in the United States to improve breast symmetry.
- Smoking leads to sagging breasts. Chemicals in cigarettes accelerate the breakdown of connective tissues in the breasts, leading to premature drooping. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and aging also contribute to sagging breasts.
- The “ideal” breast size and shape constantly shift. Cave art from 35,000 years ago depicts women with enormous breasts, but during the Middle Ages, small, wide-set breasts were en vogue in Western cultures. Cultural norms for beauty are different from society to society.
- Glass balls, ivory, ox cartilage, polyester, ground rubber, and balls of tape have all been used as breast implants in the past. Today, only FDA-approved saline or silicone gel implants can be used in the United States. Breast implants are the among the most well-studied devices in modern medicine.
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