Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is it about women's breasts, anyway?

From time to time, as a board certified cosmetic surgeon and member of the ASAPS, I receive interesting articles that I feel are worthy of sharing with my patients and other interested parties. This one deals with the object of hundreds of thousands plastic surgery procedures in 2011. 

WARNING: It is rather explicit. Reading it probably should be restricted to adults.

A recent article in the Huffington Post may help explain why we have such fascination with the female bust. Authors Dr. Larry Young and Brian Alexander pondered the question while discussing their upcoming book, The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction.

They point out that the obsession with breasts is uniquely human. Human males (and some females) are the sole mammals that look at breasts in a sexual way, and human females are the only mammals whose chests enlarge during puberty, even if they're not pregnant. Humans are also the only mammals that caress, fondle and otherwise stimulate breasts during sexual foreplay.

Men's obsession with busts is biological. In addition, many women report enjoyment and arousal from the attention focused on their breasts. 

So what is it about breasts that gets everyone so hot and bothered?

The authors believe two current schools of thought are inaccurate. One is that breasts, which are comprised of stored fat, indicate that a woman is in good health, and thus a worthy mate. Another suggests that breasts remind men of women's behinds, which are also known to sexually stimulate males.

Young and Alexander, the authors, claim the love of breasts probably comes more from nursing, and a chemical known as oxytocin. When a newborn breastfeeds, it stimulates the release of this chemical in the mother. This prompts the mother's muscles to release the milk and also causes her to focus her attention entirely on her child. Along with dopamine, oxytocin fosters a bond between mom and infant.

A man stimulating a woman's breasts during foreplay or sex, creates the same chemical releases, according to the authors. They believe women focus on their partner, his face, smell and voice, associating breast stimulation with pleasurable feelings toward their lover.

This theory may explain why many women in Southwest Florida and nationally choose to have breast augmentations or breast lifts. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2011, 316,948 breast augmentation procedures were performed nationally.

Women who decide to have plastic surgery to enhance the appearance of their bust, however, should be sure that they are doing so for themselves, rather than to please others. They should discuss what they expect with a board-certified plastic surgeon, and ask to see before and after photos to get a better understanding of the possible kinds of results.

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, (nor opinions I hold as a plastic surgeon in Fort Myers) but are offered as an educational service. 

For additional information on this subject and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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