Breast milk produces the essential immunoglobulin, the ones that fight off diseases for babies come from the mother and get passed-on through breastfeeding along with important vitamins and minerals that store-bought formula milk just cannot provide on their own. For the part of the mothers, breastfeeding is also a natural way of contraception, since lactation induces the brain to release hormones that inhibit the uterus from allowing a fertilized egg to be implanted; this leads to a better and healthier way of planning how many and how big the gap is between having children. The only gripe that most mothers have with breastfeeding is that when their babies start feeding off breast milk, this would often mean sagging breasts and an overall unsightly appearance – or does it?
Dr. Hooman Soltanian, a registered plastic surgeon, said that breastfeeding alone cannot determine whether the breasts would sag or not. Dr. Soltanian practices cosmetic surgery and research at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and while working in the area, he decided to conduct a research regarding outside factors that contributed to the physical appearance of breasts during one of the famous local events in the city, the Annual Twin’s Day Festival. He said that studying the effects of genetic factors with regards to physical appearances, not just of the breasts, is convenient at the Twin’s Festival because the focus groups present here are pretty difficult to find elsewhere.
The entire research was conducted in a span of 2 years, where over 150 pairs of women-twins volunteered to be included in the study. A female medical professional was hired to take the photos of the twins’ breasts, which of course did not include their faces in order to maintain privacy. A colleague of Dr. Soltanian, Dr. Bahman Guyuron who is head of the plastic surgery department at UHC Medical Center, also conducted a study during Twin’s Festival during 2006 and 2007 in order to find out if there was a genetic connection between identical genes and skin aging.
Dr. Soltanian said that when it comes to the appearance of breasts, there is a definite connection between the environment they are exposed to and how the actual breasts look like. But what he wanted to study with the twins is that how these environmental factors affect the genes specifically of each twin, given that they may or may not be exposed to the same environmental stimuli. After the pictures of the twin’s breasts were taken, these were then showed to plastic surgery residents and were subjectively rated based on a specific guideline on what makes an “aesthetically appealing pair of breasts”.
The comparison between twins who did and did not breastfeed showed that the twin who had engaged in breast feeding had the slightly more attractive pair of breasts. Dr. Soltanian believes that the better skin quality around the areola was due to the increased amount of estrogen being released by the body during lactation. This may also be supported by the fact that the women who had undergone hormone therapy after menopause had the more appealing set of breasts as opposed to the ones who did not undergo such therapy. Overall, he said that the environment in which the mother is exposed to would definitely play a big role in the overall look of the breasts. Though this may still be a rather subjective result, Dr. Soltanian now plans to use data input calculations in coming from the pictures taken in order to analyze the data he has already collected in a more analytical sense. But the fact that remains is that benefits that surround breastfeeding far outweighs the hazards it brings—both for the mother and the child.