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Saggy Breasts After Weight Loss

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Saggy Breasts After Weight Loss
Weight loss doesn't need to negatively affect your chest. Photo Credit Felix Clinton/Stone/Getty Images

You're thrilled with the prospect of losing weight and creating a new physique, but you're not so jazzed about the possibility that your breasts may sag if you lose weight. Yo-yo dieting exacerbates the natural sag that results from gravity, pregnancy, breast-feeding and adolescent growth spurts. But a serious change in your breast shape isn't inevitable with sensible weight loss. Adopt a plan that has a moderate calorie deficit, and also exercise so that you manage your weight for the long term, while minimizing breast sag.

Breast Tissue on a Diet

Breasts are primarily composed of fat tissue, in addition to duct and lobule tissue, which are intrinsic to breast feeding. The ratio of fat to other tissues is largely a matter of genetics. Some women simply have fattier breasts, while others have denser breasts. When you gain weight, fat cells within the breast tissue expand. Weight loss then causes the fat cells to shrink. If you're a woman who has a high proportion of fat tissue in your breasts, this reduction will be more noticeable. If you have denser breasts, your breasts will be less affected by changes in your weight. The only way to know the composition of your breasts is with mammography.

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Fast Weight Loss Leads to Saggy Breasts

The skin around your breasts gets its firmness from the proteins collagen and elastin. Extreme weight-loss measures that cause you to lose weight quickly are stressful to these proteins, and can affect your skin elasticity. When you diet to lose and regain the same 10 pounds repeatedly, you wear out these compounds; essentially, you stretch them out permanently. A gradual weight loss allows these proteins to adjust to your bodily changes so that your breasts will be less likely to result in considerable sag.

In cases of massive weight loss -- such as when you lose 100 pounds or more -- sagging tissue in your breasts, and elsewhere, is almost inevitable, even if your loss was gradual. Speak to your doctor about possible solutions to help contour any excess skin.

Diet Without Creating Breast Sag

A weight-loss strategy that helps you drop pounds gradually requires patience, but it protects your breasts and is easier for you to maintain. Lose 1 or 2 pounds per week by choosing healthy foods, such as lean protein, whole grains and vegetables, at most meals. These food choices help you eat between 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day, which is a low intake, but provides enough calories to give you ample nutrition and to also keep your metabolism humming. Losing at a faster rate may slow your metabolism and may overly stress the collagen and elastin of your breasts. If you're particularly active, you may need to consume a slightly greater number of calories to avoid losing weight too quickly.

Exercise helps boost your overall calorie burn, which contributes to weight loss. Jogging, brisk walking, dance classes, hiking and cycling, are all moderate-intensity activities that you should participate in for at least 150 minutes a week. Regular resistance training also helps boost your metabolism and creates a firmer-looking frame.

When you work out, wear clothing that supports your breasts. You might also need to invest in new sports bras during your weight loss journey, since your bra size is likely to change.

Dealing With Sag

As you age, some breast sag is inevitable. Childbirth and breastfeeding also change the shape of your breasts. If dieting has contributed to this lack of firmness, there's not much you can do to regain the elasticity. Exercises that claim to firm your chest are not likely to work. You can strengthen the pectorals that lie underneath the breast tissue, but you're not going to change the breast tissue itself. Creams that promise to tighten the skin can help the skin feel smoother, but they don't actually restore the collagen and elastin. If you're disturbed by the shape of your breasts, discuss options for modification with your healthcare provider.

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