Gigantomastia: More Serious Than You Think
How do you know if your big breasts are a medical condition or if they are just big for your size?
Well, that was a question that Kerisha Mark had growing up. Mark had always had an exceptionally large bust, she said, but by her late 30s, her chest had ballooned to size 36NNN due to a rare hormonal condition called gigantomastia.
“The breasts really hung down to her hips and were essentially like carrying around three basketballs at all times because they were so large,” her physician, Dr. Rose said. “When we went into the exam room — I don’t know if I would use this word ‘shocking,’ but it was certainly startling to see breasts of that magnitude.”
Gigantomastia can result in the massive enlargement of breast tissue, can occur during puberty or pregnancy. Gigantomastia can also unleash a spate of health issues that quickly begin to take their toll. Specifically for Kerisha, they included pulled muscles in her chest, severe back pain and emotional distress.
Gigantomastia occurs in 1 out of every 28,000 to 100,000 pregnancies. It can also affect men, although very rarely. The indication of the condition is a breast weight that exceeds approximately 3% of the total body weight. There are varying definitions of what is considered to be excessive breast tissue, that is the expected breast tissue plus extraordinary breast tissue, ranging from as little as 1.3 lb up to 5.5 lb with most physicians defining macromastia as excessive tissue of over 3.3 lb. The enlargement can cause muscular discomfort and over-stretching of the skin envelope, which can lead in some cases to ulceration.
Hypertrophy of the breast tissues might be caused by increased histologic sensitivity to the female hormones prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone; or an abnormally elevated hormone(s) level in the blood, or both. Breast hypertrophy is a benign progressive enlargement, which can occur in both breasts (bilateral) or only in one breast (unilateral).
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Gigantomastia is a source of considerable attention. Some women try to hide or mask their breasts with special clothing.Women with this condition may be subject to a number of psychological problems due to unwanted attention and/or harassment. Depression is common among sufferers.
Left untreated, he added, Kerisha may have developed degenerative kyphosis, a condition in which a person’s spine curves forward, forming a hump or “hunchback.”
“Getting my breasts reduced was like a divorce,” she said. “And like a bad relationship, you don’t always realize how bad things were until it’s over.”
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