What is Mammary Gland Involution?
Breast involution is a condition in which physiological changes in the glandular tissues of the breast occur, and which is not considered a disease. The term “involution” is translated as “reverse development.” Breast involution can be associated with the period of pregnancy and lactation, menopause and other hormonal changes in the body of a woman.
Causes of Breast Involution
In the life of every woman there are several natural stages during which mammary gland involution can take place:
- from the beginning of the puberty (puberty) to the age of 45 years (reproductive period);
- 45-60 years (menopause);
- from 60 years (period of approaching old age).
The condition of the mammary glands depends on the amount and ratio of various hormones in the body. An experienced diagnostician will need a simple examination and palpation to understand the diagnosis. With a stable active level of hormones, involution may not occur even at 50 and at 60. But with a lack of hormonal levels, changes in the breast can be even in those who are barely 20 years old. This phenomenon requires an indispensable examination for gynecological and endocrinological diseases.
Symptoms of Mammary Gland Involution
Explicit manifestations of breast involution may be absent – this happens in more than half of cases. Rare patients may complain of pain in the mammary glands, which sometimes give to the upper back.
Age-related involution of the mammary glands in most cases is as follows:
- 25-40 years – the mammary glands change naturally, depending on the phase of the monthly cycle. Ultrasound examination indicates the presence of glandular tissue, the channels are not dilated, pathologies are not observed;
- 40-50 years – symptoms of developing breast involution appear: fat changes, fibrotic mastopathy, papillomas, fibroadenomatosis, tumors;
- 50-55 years – involution is progressing, ultrasound diagnostics show the predominance of adipose tissue with preserved glandular;
- from 55 years – an ultrasound scan shows a complete replacement of glandular tissue with fatty tissue; in the normal state of the body there are no seals; upon palpation, the breast seems to have lost its elasticity, its structure changes, typically sagging and lethargy of the mammary glands.
Fat involution of the mammary glands is a natural change in the body of a woman during menopause or after lactation. The reasons are the same as those mentioned above: the instability of the level of hormones. There are no typical symptoms of fatty involution of the mammary glands. She is diagnosed only by ultrasound and mammography. If there is involution, in the pictures the mammary gland will look lighter than usual, with a clear structure of blood vessels, milk channels and connective tissue fibers.
Signs of mammary gland involution in young girls and individuals who did not give birth may indicate significant hormonal problems. For such patients, an additional examination is mandatory, especially for pathologies of the endocrine system.
Fibrous involution of the mammary glands is a physiological replacement of glandular tissue with connective (fibrous) tissue. Most often, the process is combined, with a replacement for connective and adipose tissue, therefore it is called fibrous-fat involution.
Fibrocystic involution of the mammary glands is not only the replacement of the glandular tissue with the connective, but also the parallel formation of cysts, which are benign abdominal neoplasms. On palpation, zones of seals in the chest are determined by the type of nodes or balls with fluid.
Involutional processes of wilting breasts intensify towards the end of reproductive age: after 45-50 years. Ultrasound and mammography studies at this time indicate a diffuse proliferation of connective and fatty tissue elements. The thickness of the parenchymal layer gradually decreases from 14 mm to 4-6 mm. Such symptoms after 45 years are considered a physiological norm.
Diagnosis of Mammary Gland Involution
Two options are used to diagnose the condition of the mammary glands under consideration: mammography or ultrasound. Research can also be comprehensive, including:
- computed tomography
- auxiliary thermography
- blood test to determine the amount of hormones
- ductography (galactography)
Breast Involution Treatment
Age-related involution of the mammary glands does not require treatment. But regular examinations and examinations are necessary, which also includes self-examination. Women after 40 years old need to do a mammogram or an ultrasound scan regularly. For young patients, treatment of fat involution of the breast is mandatory. First you need to determine the etiology. If the cause is recognized as endocrine pathology, then the patient is prescribed hormone replacement treatment to stabilize the normal level of hormones.
In the presence of other breast diseases that develop along with involution, then the most serious manifestations (for example, cysts) are treated first. If the patient has severe chest pain, doctors can prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatory, sedatives. The appointment of hormone therapy is also likely.
Prognosis of mammary gland involution
If the patient does not express concern about involution, she still needs to periodically visit a gynecologist regularly. Ultrasound of the mammary glands for women from 40 years old should be done every year. Since it is at this age that hormones are most unstable, which increases the risk of breast tumors. The sooner any formation in the chest is detected, the more successful the treatment will be.
Do not panic if you have been diagnosed with breast involution. With age, such changes are logical. But, if this happened before the age of 40, you need to worry about normalizing the hormonal balance of the body. The doctor must identify the causes of the pathology and prescribe adequate therapy.
Prevention of Mammary Gland Involution
The most important point in the treatment of any diseases of the mammary glands is prevention. Preventive measures are as follows:
- physical activity – do not forget about morning exercises, especially if your working day is spent in an office chair. During the working day, get up, walk or warm up, and most importantly – do not sit still;
- active lifestyle – move, play sports, walk in the park, in the forest, just around the city, relax in nature;
- full sleep and rest – sleep is very important for hormonal balance in the body, do not forget about it;
- psycho-emotional balance – avoid stress, scandals and a “tense” environment;
- full balanced nutrition – healthy food, without alcohol and chemistry, preferably prepared with your own hands (and not purchased in the form of semi-finished products);
- periodic visits to the gynecologist for a preventive examination.