Breast sagging (also known as breast falling, dropping or ptosis) is an omission of the mammary glands, which occurs as a result of stretching of the breast skin tissues, together with ligaments and lack of skin’s elasticity. Ptosis leads to a disruption in the shape and beautiful contour of the breast.
1. Let’s Talk Genetics!
Breast Sagging and genetics. Where is the connection, you’d think? Actually, it’s a tie line, since your genes not only define your breast size, they also play an essential role in determining the strength of your ligaments, elasticity of the skin and breast tissue density. While there are no muscles to hold the breasts high up and perky, the ligaments is really what you are left with.
2. Breastfeeding Does Not Cause Breasts Sagging, but Multiple Pregnancies Might
Breastfeeding on its own is not a risk factor for breast ptosis, whereas having more pregnancies is.
A plastic surgeon Brian Rinker (University of Kentucky) conducted the study with 132 women between 1998 and 2006 who came for a breast lift. The results of the study showed no difference in the degree of breast ptosis between women who breastfed and those who didn’t.
Another 2008 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal also shows that breastfeeding is not a risk factor for breast sagging. The bigger culprit for breasts to go south is actually pregnancy itself. “Breasts increase in size with pregnancy and stay enlarged with breastfeeding, however, they then slowly shrink back down once a woman is done nursing. That weight loss and breasts deflation is a big contributor to breast sagging.” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology (School of Medicine at Yale University).
If you are a breastfeeding mama, reading this article, the first thing you can do is relax and enjoy breastfeeding, since it will not cause your boobs to look deflated and saggy. While the weaning is a risk factor, here are 12 things you can do during breastfeeding to prevent breast sagging after weaning. Just make sure to be consistent and make those things a daily routine.
3. Rapid Weaning and Breast Involution
So it is highly likely that you won’t sacrifice the appearance of your breast by breastfeeding. Although, there is a real risk factor for breast sagging if your breast went two-three cup sizes bigger with pregnancy and breastfeeding, which means that the Cooper’s ligaments the connective tissue in the breasts that help them keep their shape will stretch out dramatically.
It won’t cause any problems right until you start weaning. When you stop breastfeeding, the breast tissue responsible for milk production will bounce all the way back, but the skin around the breast may not! While it’s not really common, there is a chance to say “hello” to deflated breasts after weaning. It really all depends on how your breast involute after weaning.
What can you do to help?
1. Wear a good sports bra 24/7
One way to avoid the ligaments to stretch is to wear a good supportive bra, preferably without the underwires, around the clock starting from the day you found out about your pregnancy. This will give the right support for your breast and ligaments, which may help prevent sagging.
2. Make the weaning super slow!
Another way is to aim for gradual weaning (that takes 2-3 months, rather than 2-3 days or weeks). Start with cutting off daytime feedings, one after another. Give time to your body (and brain!) to understand that your baby doesn’t need to be fed that much so that your milk supply will drop. The last feedings you would want to cut off would be nursing before bedtime and the early morning feeding.
4. You Pre-Pregnancy Breast Size
The larger your natural breasts are pre-pregnancy, the greater the fall. Yep. The bitter truth of having a beautiful, full and perky C-cup in your early twenties. Pre-pregnancy breast size does matter when it comes to breast sagging. While your breasts may preserve their form after breastfeeding, over time, all breasts tend to fall and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. Because this battle with gravity is a desperate play.
5. Rapid Weight Gain Followed by Weight Loss
Typically, women gain weight during pregnancy and then lose excess baby weight while breastfeeding. This all is kinda stressful for our bodies. Weight fluctuations (especially in combination with breastfeeding) can cause unnecessary stretching of the skin and ligaments that support your breasts and as a result, make them saggy. The goal here is to avoid rapid weight gain and aim for gradual weight loss.
It’s these special types of proteins – collagen and elastin – that make the skin around our breasts firm. Extreme weight loss (more than 50 lbs) is stressful to these proteins, may interfere with their production and can negatively affect skin’s elasticity.
6. Why Your Age Matters
The younger you are the more collagen and elastin is naturally produced in your body. The ligaments that support your breasts are still strong. If you’re eating a health and nutritious diet full of vitamins and minerals, essential nutrients and antioxidants, your skin is glowing and resilient with no special effort.
As we get older, gravity pulls at the breasts and the ligaments that support our breasts tissue stretch, losing elasticity. This is especially evident in menopausal women, because the estrogen production drops severely, which means that less collagen and elastin is naturally produced in our bodies to support Cooper’s ligaments strength and skin resilience.
7. Smoking Causes Boob Sagging
RED ALERT for all the smoking women out there!
So this bad habit is harmful not only for your lungs but for your skin, too! How on earth would smoking contribute to breast sagging, you’d think, right? Here’s how: “smoking breaks down a protein in the skin called elastin, which gives youthful skin its elastic appearance and supports the breast”, says Brian Rinker, a plastic surgeon.
In case you are a stubborn smoker, though, make sure to supplement yourself with plenty of vitamin C, since smoking depletes it in your body. Studies have found that people who smoke have reduced amounts of vitamin C in their bodies.
8. Vitamin B and C deficiency
Just a little more about vitamin C. This essential vitamin, that is also a powerful antioxidant, is needed to make collagen. Studies have shown that skin fibroblasts have an absolute dependence on vitamin C for the synthesis of collagen, and for the regulation of the collagen/elastin balance in the dermis. Collagen is responsible for cells’ growth and repair. It produces just about everything in our bodies from the skin to ligaments and blood vessels.
The less vitamin C you get, the less collagen and elastin are produced to support your skin’s beauty, the higher are the chances for your breasts to sag. But, believe me, sagged boobs is the least of your problems when your body is super low in this vital vitamin.
10 Top Foods High in Vitamin C
- Kakadu plums. One plum has 481 mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the DV (daily value)
- Rose hips. Provide 426 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams
- Guavas. One fruit contains 126 mg of vitamin C, that is 140% of the DV
- Blackcurrants. 50 grams of these berries contain approximately 101 mg of vitamin C or 112% of the DV
- Kiwis. One fruit will give you a load of 71 mg of vitamin C, which is 79% of the DV
- Lemons. One lemon provides 83 mg of vitamin C, that’s 92% of the DV
- Lychees. It contains 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, which is around 80% of the DV
- Papayas. Approximately 150 grams of this fruit (that’s one cup) will provide you with 100% of the DV in vitamin C
- Strawberries. The same with the strawberries. 150 grams give you the full DV of vitamin C
- Oranges. One medium orange is packed with 70 mg of vitamin C, that’s 78% of the DV
B vitamins are essential for our body to build supportive elastic tissues. Especially, niacin and biotin. Other B vitamins, like B-12, folate, and B-6 are important, too, since they help lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.
According to the Medical Biochemistry Page, high levels of homocysteine act as blocking the enzymes essential for the normal coordination of collagen and elastin in our bodies. Since B vitamins are easy to be accessed from different food sources, the best option is to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Fruit and vegetables’ consumption may represent the most healthy and safe method in order to maintain a balanced diet and youthful appearing skin.
9. Menopause and Boob Sagging
Elasticity of the skin doesn’t depend on genetics alone. Although it does predict how resilient your skin will be, it’s this one hormone that settles everything. You may have already guessed which hormone I’m talking about. The estrogen. The one, responsible for skin’s elasticity.
No need to worry while you’re still young, though. You’ve got plenty of estrogen (usually!) to preserve your skin’s beauty. It’s the women with menopause who need to start worrying.
According to the research, published in 2013 in Dermato-Endocrinology journal, estrogen deficiency following menopause results in atrophic skin changes and acceleration of skin aging. The skin becomes thinner with less collagen, decreased elasticity, increased wrinkling, increased dryness, and reduced vascularity.
Yep, we don’t get younger. However, thanks to advanced medicine, there are plenty over-the-counter supplements that can help slow down the aging while supporting and nourishing your body.
If you’re 35 and older, here’s what you might consider trying:
- Evening primrose oil – oral supplementation of EPO is found to improve skin’s elasticity, moisture, and firmness, according to a 2005 study.
- Try taking 500 mg EPO 3 times a day for 4 months and see for yourself if it does any changes to your skin.
- Marine Collagen type I and III – Clinical studies show that consuming a daily dose of highly concentrated hydrolyzed marine collagen can increase the look of your skin’s elasticity, density, and hydration, while decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Brassica oleracea (Broccoli extract) – help maintain safe estrogen levels by aiding the conversion of dangerous estrogen fractions to more favorable metabolites and by promoting restoration of healthy hormone ratios.
- Resveratrol – powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which support the body’s natural defenses against oxidative damage and aging. It also offers support for the cardiovascular system.
- Black cohosh – is considered safe when taken by menopausal women. It balances the estrogen levels.
- Clinical studies for black cohosh have been shown to help reduce the symptoms and severity of menopause. This supplement also increases serotonin levels.
- What a nice bonus! MACA root – a superfood of the Inca, the maca root extract can be used for stimulating skin cells to be placed in better communication and nutrition.
- This extract is also used to fight the signs of aging, in awakening mechanisms that have been slowed and boosting protein synthesis and tissular adhesion.
10. Now goes the unexpected one: Wearing a Bra Can Cause Breast Sagging
What? I mean, whaaaat? The statement is really contradictory and seems to be illogical, especially for women who have larger breasts than average. But Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon, France reports after a 15-year study that wearing a bra weakens the muscles that hold up the breasts, resulting in greater breast sagging.