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I've read the first answer here on quora and it suggests that (not during pregnancy and breastfeeding) breasts differ in size only due to the amount of fats. However, there can be firm or soft breasts of the same size and this is somewhat disputing the claim. Also, women with firm breasts can find it painful when their breasts are squeezed while those with soft breasts are less likely to have the same experiences.

So, what makes breasts firm or soft given the same size?

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You are asking two different, but related questions

Does breast size depend solely on fat amounts?

First, breasts are made up of skin, blood vessels, ducts, fibrous tissue, and fat. There is variation between individuals and within an individual the relative composition changes with age, nutrition, and hormonal status. The size of each of those elements will determine the overall size of the breasts.

What makes breasts firm or soft given the same size?

We don't know, but it's not fat. You can determine the relative amount of fat in breast tissue (fat is black, or radiolucent, other structures are white, or radio-opaque) using mammography. There is even a term for the ratio of non-fatty structures to fat (mammographic density) but physical findings by trained examiners regarding the firmness or softness of breasts do not correlate with the relative composition of a breast. This is tricky because breast density as it is defined in mammography is relative amount of non-fatty structures compared to fat, but you can't predict the mammographic breast density with physical examination of the breast.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is interesting that biologists do not know it, since somehow men prefer firm breasts, I thought women with firm breasts were somehow more fit, than those with soft breasts (given everything else the same, including their size). $\endgroup$ – rus9384 Jul 11 '18 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @rus9384 funding agencies don't give a lot of grants to study men's preferences in women's bodies $\endgroup$ – De Novo Jul 11 '18 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, there even is a research, even cited on wikipedia, so, I'm correct. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_attractiveness#Breasts $\endgroup$ – rus9384 Jul 17 '18 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @rus9384 you misinterpreted my comment. I meant funding agencies are not going to give a grant to study the composition of an attractive vs. unattractive breast. They will give a grant to study aspects that make it more difficult to diagnose breast cancer with a mammogram. This is why it is not surprising that we don't know what makes breasts feel firm or soft on palpation, but we do know what makes breast cancer harder to diagnose with a mammogram. $\endgroup$ – De Novo Jul 17 '18 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ I thought it's because of lack of methods to do it (well, actual cutting breasts, of course, is a straightforward way to do it, but juridically problematic one). $\endgroup$ – rus9384 Jul 17 '18 at 0:34

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