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What is Virginal Hypertrophy?

By Stephany Seipel
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Virginal hypertrophy, also known as juvenile breast hypertrophy and juvenile gigantomastia, is a rare condition that causes rapid growth of the breast tissue during the early teen years, resulting in disproportionately large breasts. This condition can cause a great deal of psychological trauma to its adolescent sufferers. Doctors usually treat the condition with breast reduction surgery.

This condition is relatively rare. When it does occur, it affects girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years old. Virginal hypertrophy is benign and does not lead to severe health issues or death. In rare cases, breast tissue continues to develop even after surgical intervention.

Young girls who have virginal hypertrophy develop excessively large breasts. The nipples might be flattened, and although the breasts have large amounts of connective tissue, they have underdeveloped or absent lobules, or milk-producing glands. One breast is usually affected more than the other, causing asymmetry. Large breasts are often ptotic, or droopy, with nipples that point downward rather than up and out.

Virginal hypertrophy can cause both physical and emotional pain. Some girls develop back or shoulder problems from the weight of their breasts. They might not be able to fit in standard-sized bras, and their large breasts can limit what kinds of clothes they can wear. They also might become painfully self-conscious about their bodies.

Doctors usually recommend breast reduction surgery to treat the condition. Surgeons generally prefer to wait until girls finish developing before performing a surgical reduction. As of early 2011, doctors were experimenting with using tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug, for virginal hypertrophy. It helps reduce breast swelling and might reduce the size of the breasts.

Breast reduction surgery is a complicated and invasive procedure that is performed under anesthetic. It usually takes several hours to complete the operation. The doctor creates several incisions in the lower portion of the breast. He removes the excessive breast tissue and re-sculpts the breasts, removing and relocating the nipple to a higher position and trimming down the large areola.

Some young women who have severe virginal hypertrophy might continue their breast development even after a surgical reduction. In this case, a doctor might opt to perform a complete mastectomy, or removal of all of the underlying breast tissue. A doctor can replace the breast tissue with surgical implants.

Breast reduction and mastectomy surgery will both significantly decrease the size and weight of the breasts. Several of the risks include infection, incisions that reopen after surgery and possible asymmetry. Women take several months to heal after surgery, and the procedures leave permanent scarring on the breasts.

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