What Causes Saggy Breasts – Causes and Solutions of Sagging Breasts
Written By Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, FACS
Saggy breasts are completely normal with aging or after breastfeeding. Every woman undergoes sagging of the breasts as she gets older – the degree of sagging is determined by several factors including skin quality, genetics, weight fluctuation and pregnancy. For some people, saggy breasts can trigger physical and emotional discomfort – this is where Breast Surgery can help.
Experienced plastic surgeon Dr Joe Gryskiewicz, (“Dr. Joe”) use breast lifting surgery techniques to deliver unique natural looking results each time.
What Are Saggy Breasts?
In the medical world, the term “breast ptosis” is used to describe saggy breasts. You can experience saggy breasts at any stage of your life. It can be characterized by the lowering of your breast on the chest wall, downward pointing nipples and a noticeable reduction in the breast firmness and/or volume. In other words, your breasts might look deflated and hanging too low on the chest wall.
Saggy breasts or breast ptosis can lead to serious psychological and emotional distress. Breast lift surgery can help improve your breasts’ appearance and make them lifted and perkier once again.
Do I have Saggy Breasts?
Our body undergoes continuous changes throughout life, and saggy breasts are just one of those changes. Medically speaking, saggy breasts or ptosis is drooping of breast tissue and loss of breast contour. As you grow older, your breast shape and size tend to change.
Here are some of the indications that might help to identify that your breasts are sagging and you might need to see a plastic surgeon:
- Breasts hang lower on the chest wall – you will observe a noticeable fall of your breasts as they tend to move lower on the chest. In other words, the position of the breasts is now lower than it used to be. This may cause you to look like you have a shorter waist.
- Nipples are pointing to the floor – your nipples’ position is a clear indication of saggy breasts. Surgeons usually identify the level or stage of ptosis by looking at the position of the nipples. When the breasts are sagging, the nipples can be pointing downwards
- Loss of Volume/Shape – you might notice a reduction in breast volume, especially in the upper part. The breasts start to lose upper pole fullness. Breasts may appear as deflated sacks.
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned conditions, it’s probably the right time to see your surgeon and ask for advice.
What Causes Saggy Breasts?
In a medical context, saggy breasts or ptosis is mostly the result of Cooper’s Ligaments stretching with age. These are the naturally occurring suspensory ligaments (basically connective tissues) composed of some elastin and collagen. They serve as a connection between the breast tissues and chest muscles, thus maintaining the overall structure and appearance of the breasts. Over time, these ligaments stretch out leading to saggy breasts.
Normally, we blame this on gravity, but there are several other causes that could be responsible for saggy breasts:
- Age – the aging process is characterized by the loss of collagen and skin elasticity which can result in sagging breasts. In fact, the loss of skin elasticity is more obvious in breasts than in any other area of the body. Sagging will be worse if you have poor skin quality or have lost a lot of weight in the past.
- Gravity – as previously mentioned, breast sagginess is caused by stretching of Cooper’s Ligaments in the breast. It is inevitable that gravity is pulling everything down. The same gravity tends to pull Cooper’s Ligaments, causing them to stretch down over time
- Menopause/Hormonal Changes – as a woman approaches menopause, the levels of estrogen hormone naturally start declining. This reduction in estrogen level causes mammary glands to shrink and breast tissues to lose their elasticity. All these hormonal changes cause your breasts to look smaller and saggier than before.
- Breasts volume – breast size and shape vary from person to person; it all depends on the genetics of the woman. The volume of the breast contributes to the early onset of breast ptosis. Women with large breasts are more likely to experience saggy breasts early in life
- Weight Loss/Gain – saggy breasts are common among those women who try to reduce or gain weight quickly. In case of weight gain, the excessive weight in the chest area puts stress on Cooper’s ligaments. Similarly, losing weight suddenly can result in excess skin in the breast area. Therefore, weight loss should be a slow process and proper time should be given to breast tissues and skin to adjust
- Pregnancies – throughout the pregnancy and even after childbirth, a woman’s body undergoes a series of changes. This is one of the major factors contributing to saggy breasts. As the body goes through rapid weight loss and gain, breast skin stretches out and often doesn’t come back to its previous condition. Women who have had more pregnancies are more likely to have saggy breasts
- Smoking – smoking is one of the major causes of saggy breasts, as it accelerates your normal aging process. If you’re an active smoker, you should know that your skin tends to dry out with the passing of time. This will ultimately lead to a loss in breast firmness and thus, saggy breasts.
How to Prevent Saggy Breasts
A mentioned, several factors are contributing to saggy breasts. Since it’s a natural process, you can’t completely avoid saggy breasts, but several noninvasive strategies can help reduce breast sagginess to some extent. Here are some of the things you can try to delay the occurrence of saggy breasts:
- Nutrition – eating a healthy and balanced diet can help delay the occurrence of breast sagginess. Try to increase your vegetable and fruit intake as they are rich sources of antioxidants that help improve your skin. In addition to this, drink plenty of water as it will keep your skin hydrated. Good nutrition will help prevent weight fluctuations that can contribute to breast ptosis.
- Maintain Body Weight – sudden and considerable changes in your body weight are among the major factors that contribute to saggy breasts. Gaining or losing weight frequently can reduce skin elasticity, so avoid such changes to maintain your breasts size and shape.
- Exercise & Workouts – Exercise and workouts can help regulate your weight and tone the muscles underlying your breasts. Performing exercises involving the upper part of the body, particularly the shoulders and upper arms, can significantly improve your breasts’ appearance by making them firmer and more defined. Work out regularly and you will notice that your breasts may look slightly lifted.
- Avoid Sun Exposure – ultraviolet radiation from the sun is extremely harmful to your skin. Radiation is even more harmful in the case of your breasts, as it can dry out your skin reducing your skin quality. Please avoid long exposure to UV sunlight and always apply sunscreen before going out.
- Wear a Well-Fitted Supportive Bra – your bra isn’t something that can change your breast shape and size, but it can help provide some lift and support. As your body changes with time, so do your breasts. Always try to get a well-fitting bra, you can ask the store staff to find the correct size for you. During your exercise and workouts, it’s always better to wear a supportive bra
Breast Lift Surgery – The Best Solution for Saggy Breasts
The ideas above can help you delay the occurrence of breast sagging, but it’s very difficult to rectify breast ptosis once your breasts have started to lose most of their perkiness and shape.
At this stage, natural remedies or preventive measures won’t be as effective and you need to see your surgeon. After examination, your plastic surgeon will recommend the most suitable surgical technique.
Our plastic surgeons can help you achieve youthful, perky breasts once again. To schedule a consultation session with Dr Joe today, click here. Here are some of the surgical options, you might consider for your surgical procedure:
- Breast lift or Mastopexy – if you are happy with the volume of the breasts, then this procedure is for you. In a breast lift or mastopexy, the surgeons generally focus on the breast position without increasing or decreasing the size. Your nipples will be repositioned at a slightly higher point and any excess skin will be removed
- Breast Augmentation – this is basically a breast enlargement procedure in which round or tear-drop-shaped silicone implants are surgically placed inside your breasts, making them look fuller than before. This can help reinflate or lift the breast
- Breast Lift + Augmentation – to achieve the best possible results, your surgeon can combine the two procedures. This surgery provides significant results, especially for patients with smaller breast sizes. Augmentation mastopexy (Breast Lift with Implants) is the medical term used for this procedure. Along with removing the excess skin, augmented mastopexy fills out deflated breasts with implants. The procedure can also help improve upper pole fullness and breast perkiness.
FAQs about Saggy Breasts and Breast Lift Surgery
At what age do breasts start to sag?
There isn’t any specific age when your breasts start to sag. It varies from person to person, and you can develop significant breast ptosis at any age. However, there are several factors which can speed up the aging process ultimately leading to saggy breasts.
Can saggy breasts be rectified without surgical procedures?
If your breasts have already lost much of their shape and perkiness, you probably need to have a surgical procedure. For a short term fix, a better bra may help.
Are there any side effects of breast lift surgery?
All surgery has side effects. You might experience temporary numbness, swelling, bruising, scarring and discomfort around your breasts. These are immediate and short-term effects. Discomfort is a positive trade for having youthful, perkier breasts.
Are the results of breast lift surgery long-lasting?
Breast lift surgery or augmentation with a lift can provide results that are regarded as long-lasting. However, keep in mind that the natural aging process will continue to affect your breasts. Pregnancy and weight fluctuation may also cause the need for further revision surgery.
How long is the recovery period after breast lift surgery?
In most cases, it takes three weeks for you to fully recover after a surgical procedure. However, the time varies from patient to patient, depending upon your health, the severity of breast ptosis and the type of surgical procedure performed to correct the issue. Ask your surgeon for an estimate.