Saggy breasts are a completely normal process of variation in breast shape or appearance. Every woman undergoes these changes as she gets older. Breast sagginess occurs as a result of the natural aging process, but also other factors. While it is not a medical condition, it can trigger physical and emotional discomfort.
Minnesota Plastic Surgeon Dr. Karan Chopra employs the latest techniques to satisfy patients delivering 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 hang too low on the chest wall.
There are no medical symptoms of saggy breasts or breast ptosis, but it can still lead to serious psychological and emotional distress. But with breast lift surgery, that’s not an issue to worry about anymore. Breast lift surgery can help improve your breasts’ appearance and make them perkier once again.
How to Identify Saggy Breasts?
Our body undergoes continuous changes throughout life, and saggy breasts are just one of those changes. Scientifically speaking, saggy breasts or ptosis is the 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 surgeon:
- Breasts hang lowers on the chest wall – you will observe a noticeable fall of your breasts and they tend to get lower on the chest. In other words, the position of the breasts is now lower than it used to be;
- 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 seeing the position of the nipples. When the breasts are sagging, the nipples can be pointing down;
- Loss of Volume/Shape – the patient might notice a reduction in breast volume, especially in the upper part. The breasts start to lose upper pole fullness.
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned conditions, it’s the right time to see your surgeon and ask for advice.
Common Causes of Saggy Breasts
In medical context, saggy breasts or ptosis is the result of Cooper’s Ligament 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 is a number of other causes that could be responsible for saggy breasts:
- Age – the aging process is characterized by the loss of collagen and skin elasticity, and the same is true for sagging as well. In fact, the loss of skin elasticity is more obvious in breasts than in any other area of the body;
- 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 a common thing 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 with 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 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?
As seen in the previous section, a number of 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;
- Exercise & Workouts – as breast tissues are mainly composed of mammary ducts and fat, exercise won’t affect their mass. However, exercise and workouts can do a lot to 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’ posture making them firmer and more defined. Work out regularly and you will notice that your breasts look slightly lifted;
- Avoid Sun Exposure – ultraviolet radiations from the sun are extremely harmful to your skin and they are even more toxic in the case of your breasts, as they will dry out your skin. So, it is necessary to avoid long exposure to sunlight and always apply sunscreen before going out;
- 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;
- Wear Well-Fitted/Supportive Bra – the 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-fitted bra, you can ask the store staff to find the correct size for you. During exercise and workouts, it’s always better to wear a supportive bra.
Breast Lift – The Best Solution to Saggy Breasts
The above-mentioned ideas can help you delay the occurrence of breast sagging, but it’s very difficult to rectify breast ptosis once your breasts have lost most of their perkiness and shape. At this stage, natural remedies or preventive measures won’t be effective and you need to see your surgeon. After examination, your plastic surgeon will recommend a suitable surgical technique.
Here are some of the options, you might consider for your surgical procedure:
- Breast lift – 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 actually increasing or decreasing the size. Your nipples will be repositioned at a slightly higher point and any excess skin will be removed;
- Breast Augmentation – breast augmentation 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;
- Breast Lift + Augmentation – to achieve the best possible results, we prefer combining the two procedures. This surgery provides significant results, especially for patients with smaller breast sizes. Augmented mastopexy is the medical term used for this procedure. Along with removing the excess skin, augmented mastopexy fills out deflated breasts with implants.
FAQs about Saggy Breasts and Breast Lift Surgery
At what age, do a woman’s breasts start to sag?
- There isn’t any specific age when your breasts start to sag. It actually varies from person to person and you can develop breast ptosis at any age. However, there are a number of factors, already discussed in the article, 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 need to have a surgical procedure.
Are there any side effects of breast lift surgery?
- You might experience temporary numbness, swelling, bruising, scarring, and discomfort around your breasts. But, these are just immediate and short-term effects. And that’s just a little discomfort before having youthful, perkier breasts.
Are the results of breast lift surgery long-lasting?
- Breast lift surgery or augmentation with a lift can provide you with such long-lasting results that you will forget that you once had saggy breasts. However, keep in mind that the natural aging process will affect the breasts at some point in the future too.
How much is the recovery period after breast lift surgery?
- In most cases, it takes a period of 6-12 weeks for a patient to recover after a surgical procedure. However, the time period may vary from patient to patient, depending upon the severity of breast ptosis and the type of surgical procedure performed to correct the issue.
Further Reading about Breast Procedures with Dr. Chopra
- Read Dr. Chopra’s Breast Augmentation Surgery Page
- Read Dr. Chopra’s Breast Lift Surgery Page
- Read Dr. Chopra’s Breast Reconstruction Surgery Page
- Read Dr. Chopra’s Breast Implant Removal Surgery Page
- Read Dr. Chopra’s blog about How to Choose the Best Breast Implant Size