Your breasts naturally become less perky as you age, when the skin covering them begins to lose elasticity and the breast tissue succumbs to gravity. Pregnancy, hormonal changes and fluctuations in body weight also affect the shape, size and perkiness of your breasts.
Unfortunately, boob lift exercises don't work. While plastic surgery is the only way to truly tighten and lift the breasts, lifestyle changes, such as maintaining your weight through a healthy diet and exercise and targeting the muscles beneath the breasts with weight-bearing exercises, may help improve the appearance of sagging breasts and prevent further drooping.
Breasts can recover — at least somewhat — from the effects of time and gravity with proper diet and exercises.
Causes of Sagging Breasts
The breasts are composed mainly of fatty tissue, as well as glands and connective tissue. While there's no muscle tissue in breasts, there is muscle tissue directly beneath them.
Ligaments and skin support the breasts, and over time, both of these support systems begin to stretch, resulting in drooping breasts and wrinkled, loose skin. The skin covering the breasts is prone to stretching as the breasts become larger with weight gain and pregnancy and then get smaller with weight loss and child birth. Frequent weight gain and loss can stress the skin and affect its elasticity. When this happens, the breasts become saggy.
Ligaments cannot be shortened once they have been stretched, and although it's possible to repair some skin damage with creams and other topical treatments, it's only temporary and not enough to actually lift the breasts.
6 Exercises to Lift Sagging Breasts
While fat, glands, ligaments and skin can't be toned or tightened through exercise, the muscles beneath your breasts, called the pectorals, can be strengthened. This can result in a slightly lifted appearance. Push-ups, bench presses — flat, incline and decline — and flys are go-to exercises for sagging breasts.
- Begin in a high plank with your core and glutes engaged. Your shoulders should be stacked over your wrists and your hips should be in line with your head and heels.
- Bend at the elbows at about a 45-degree angle from your torso and lower your body toward the ground.
- On the way down, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- When your chest hovers just above the ground (or however far down you can go), press into the ground and push your shoulder blades apart to return to the starting position.
2. Bench Press
- Lie on your back on a weight bench (or the floor) with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights with straight arms above your chest. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and tighten your abs.
- Bend your elbows and lower the weights until they are in line with your chest.
- Press the weights back up over your chest.
3. Chest Fly
- Lie down on a bench (or the floor) holding a dumbbell in each hand directly over your chest.
- With a slight bend in your elbows, rotate your shoulders so your elbows point out to the sides and your palms face each other. This is the starting position.
- Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest in an arcing motion until you feel a mild stretch (not pull or pain) in your chest.
- Exhale as you reverse the motion and use your chest muscles to press the dumbbells back to start.
You also should balance your workout by exercising your back and shoulders with rows, overhead presses and front and lateral raises. Having a strong back and shoulders improves your posture, which can help prevent the rounded shoulders that can make breasts look even less perky.
4. Bent-Over Row
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. Shoot your hips back and hinge forward at least 45 degrees (as much as 90 degrees), keeping your back flat. Start with your arms extended toward the ground, palms facing each other.
- Draw your elbows up toward your ribs and pull the weights up alongside your lower abdomen.
- As you lift the weights, focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together.
- Lower back down to the start with control.
5. Shoulder Press
- Begin standing or seated with a flat back, feet rooted in the ground, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Lift the weights above your shoulders with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
- On an exhale, brace your core and press both dumbbells overhead.
- Lower the weights back to the starting position with control.
6. Lateral Raise
- Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your core braced, raise the weights out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
- Lower the weights slowly to the starting position.
Invest in a Good Bra
According to plastic surgeon Mark Deuber, MD, most women don't have bras that fit them properly. In addition to exercises and postural correction, a well-fitting, supportive bra can dramatically improve breast appearance.
Many women don't know their correct bra size, which results in breast bulge and poking, digging straps — or a bra that is too big and doesn't provide enough support. That's why it pays to get fitted by a professional.
Dr. Deuber warns that although you might be tempted to buy a super-supportive bra with a lot of extra lift, this can actually weaken the pectoral muscles underneath the breasts. He also says that comfort and fit shouldn't be compromised for style. You may love lacy, pretty bras, but if they don't fit right, they won't give you the look you desire.
Eat to Improve Breast Appearance
Controlling your weight can help you avoid further damage to breast tissue caused by losing and gaining pounds.
If you're underweight, eating nutrient- and calorie-rich foods, such as healthy fats from avocados and nuts, can help fill in loose skin and plump up the breasts. It won't undo damage to the ligaments, but it will fill out sagging skin and give your breasts a firmer appearance. The trick is to maintain this healthy weight for the long term.
If you are overweight, shedding pounds may make sagging breasts look worse because the skin has become stretched. While skin may regain some of its tautness, it depends on how overweight you were, how long you were overweight, your age and genetics.
Fear of loose skin isn't a good reason not to lose those extra pounds. However, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is key to a healthy body and appearance.
Last, your daily diet should include plenty of water — 64 ounces or more each day — to promote elasticity in the skin.
Skip Creams and Other Topical Applications
Myriad products on the market promise to tone and tighten breast skin and lift the breasts. The only guarantee is that you will spend a lot of your hard-earned money and most likely be disappointed.
Collagen and elastin creams contain molecules that are too large to penetrate the skin, so they are virtually useless, cosmetic surgeon Saul Lahijani, MD, told the Huffington Post. He also says creams containing caffeine may appear to tighten skin, but the result is only temporary.