Like everything else, our breasts change over time and especially as we age. But while we have a plethora of anti-ageing face creams, high-tech skincare tools to beat wrinkles and superfoods to keep our bodies at their best, how many of us actually know how to look after our breasts as we age? Let’s take a deep dive into how to prevent sagging breasts.
What causes sagging breasts?
The very common condition of sagging breasts is called breast ptosis. It is characterised by your breasts sitting lower on the chest than before, the nipple pointing downwards and the top of the breast not being as full as it was. While this is all very natural, there are some ways to prolong bouncy breasts – no surgery needed!
Breast ptosis occurs when the skin of the breasts becomes less tight, therefore it is less able to hold up the weight of the breast tissue underneath. Of course larger breasts are more likely to develop breast ptosis than smaller breasts. Sagging is also influenced by life events. During a woman’s lifetime the breast tissue itself will go up and down in both size and weight. All sorts of things contribute to this: weight gain and weight loss, hormone changes, ageing, and menopause.
New mothers are often worried that breastfeeding their baby will lead to sagging breasts. Luckily research doesn’t support this fear. The pressure a baby puts on breasts during breastfeeding is not significant enough to cause such strain on the skin or internal changes to the shape and fall of the breast tissue. However the change in breast size that often happens during pregnancy itself can contribute to sagging.
Because you want to retain the strength of your skin, protecting it from damaging factors is the number one priority in preventing sagging breasts. Cosmetic surgeon Paul Banwell says, ‘Sun damage can destroy the collagen and elastin in your skin. Collagen is a protein that retains firmness, so if this is reduced, your breasts can become saggier as the skin loses elasticity.’ Just as you should be applying daily SPF to your face, don’t forget your décolletage!
Tobacco contributes to the breakdown of collagen. Continued use can result in sagging skin and premature ageing. Paul explains, ‘There are approximately 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin.’
Paul notes how ‘Crash diets can cause a loss of muscle, as well as tissues around them, which happens so quickly that your skin doesn’t have time to adjust.’ When one loses and gains weight you put your skin in a position of stretching out past the point of being able to snap back. Stick to a healthy lifestyle and sustainable eating and exercising practices to keep you and your body in good stead.
Sleep on your back
‘Having breasts pressed against a mattress for hours can increase wrinkles. Sleeping on your side can cause breast ligaments to stretch,’ informs Paul. And don’t sleep with a bra on either! Marilyn Monroe reportedly believed wearing a bra in bed could stop breasts sagging, but it’s not recommended.
‘You might be restricting your blood supply,’ says Dr Shazia Bhatti. ‘Wearing your bra 24/7 won’t give the skin a chance to recover, leading to long-term indents in the breast tissue. It may restrict the flow of lymph and lymph nodes around the breast and armpit. This hinders the flushing of toxic waste products from the body.’