For some people, dropping a significant amount of weight may come with looser skin. This could make your breasts appear saggy after weight loss.
It's important to note, though, that sagging breasts are normal, no matter what stage of life you're in. Besides weight loss, pregnancy, puberty, aging, vigorous exercise and even genetics can play a role.
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Ultimately, the benefits of healthy weight loss often outweigh a bit of sag.
That said, if you're uncomfortable with your saggy breasts after weight loss, there are some steps you can take — like eating a balanced diet and doing chest exercises — to help reduce sagging and help you maintain firm skin in the long run.
Here, learn how to firm up breasts after weight loss.
First, Are Breasts Made of Fat?
The answer is, mostly, yes. Breasts are primarily composed of fat tissue, in addition to other duct and lobule tissue needed for breastfeeding, per the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
There is also a group of ligaments called Cooper's ligaments that help keep breasts lifted and supported, per a November 2018 review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
How much fat you have in your breasts, however, is largely genetic. Some people simply have fattier breasts, while others have denser breasts (which could also determine how much your breasts change throughout weight loss).
The only way to know the composition of your breasts (i.e., fat versus other tissue) is with a mammogram, per the Mayo Clinic.
Why Your Breasts May Sag When You Lose Weight
There are a few reasons why your breasts could sag after you've lost weight. These include:
1. You Don't Exercise Your Pectoral Muscles
While losing weight, you may be participating in some sort of workout regimen to tone the muscles and build endurance. But often, people with breasts accidentally skip working the pectoral muscles, i.e., the muscles underneath the breasts, per the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
While you can't necessarily tone breasts after weight loss, you can strengthen your pectorals to make your breasts appear firmer.
You may think you'll "bulk up" if you work the pectoral muscles, but this is false. In fact, doing targeted chest exercises, particularly with heavy weights, may help you get the look of perky breasts after weight loss.
2. The Fat Cells in Your Breasts Shrank
When you gain weight, fat cells within the breast tissue expand. But when you lose weight, the fat cells shrink, per Yale University.
That means, if you're someone with fattier breasts, the sagging or shrinking after weight loss may be more noticeable. (If you have dense breasts, you'll notice less change despite weight loss.)
3. You Lost Weight Too Fast
Losing weight too quickly can cause a number of health problems, including nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, fatigue and weakness, per the Cleveland Clinic. But it can also cause sagging skin, including wrinkled breast skin.
This happens because the proteins in your breasts that keep them firm — elastin and collagen — wear down when weight is lost too fast, per the Cleveland Clinic. This affects your skin's elasticity, and can cause breast sagging.
If you unhealthily lose and regain weight due to yo-yo dieting, you wear out the compounds of your skin and essentially stretch breast skin out permanently, per the Women's Health Research Institute.
That's why it's important to aim for gradual weight loss — 1 to 2 pounds per week max, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — to allow the proteins in your body to adjust; your breasts will be less likely to sag.
If you've lost a significant amount of weight — like 100 pounds or more — sagging tissues in your breasts and elsewhere is almost inevitable, even if your weight loss was gradual. Speak with your doctor about possible solutions for stretched skin.
6 Ways to Firm Up Breasts After Weight Loss
While the majority of breast sagging after weight loss is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to slightly reduce the look of sagging. These include:
1. Lift Heavy Weights Often
Some people may be afraid to lift heavy weights for fear they will "bulk up."
But according to the Office of Women's Health, it's highly unlikely that a person with breasts would become more muscular from lifting weights regularly. Those with breasts will typically maintain a ratio of more body fat to less muscle overall (although lifting can help you achieve a healthier ratio.)
This is good to keep in mind, because there are many benefits of weightlifting — in addition to creating an overall firmer look, regularly lifting weights can increase your metabolism and strengthen your bones and muscles.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.
2. Try Chest Exercises
While exercises that strengthen the pectoral (chest) muscles cannot completely fix sagging breasts, they could help improve their overall appearance. Try the following moves:
Barbell Bench Press
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) ranks the barbell bench press as one of the top three most effective chest exercises.
- Sitting on the end a bench, grab hold of the barbell in both hands, making sure your grip is centered and your hands are wider than shoulder distance apart.
- Carefully lay back and push the barbell up until your arms are straight and approximately over your nipple line. Turn your knuckles up so they are pointing toward the ceiling.
- Bending at the elbow, lower the barbell down until your arms are at a 90-degree bend or slightly further while still aligning the barbell over the center part of your chest.
- Press up in the same fashion and repeat 8 to 12 reps.
Free Weight Chest Fly
Doing a chest fly with free weights is another effective exercise for perkier breasts. Bonus: It targets both the chest and the shoulders, per the ACE.
- Sitting on the end of a bench with two dumbbells, lay back carefully and lift the weights up until your arms are straight and the weights are above your nipple line. Do not lock or hyperextend your elbows.
- Rotate your wrists so the palm side of your hands are facing one another.
- With your elbows softly bent, draw both of your arms out wide as you lower the weights down along your sides. Do not go beyond the height of your chest or the bench.
- Squeeze the arms back up to their original position, with elbows still softly bent, as though you are hugging a big exercise ball.
- Repeat 8 to 12 reps.
Push-ups are an effective chest exercise that allows you to multitask, working your abdominals and arms, too, per Harvard Health Publishing.
- Starting in a proper plank position, position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor. Modify by dropping to your knees while maintaining a straight spine.
- Bend your elbows out wide as you lower your entire body toward the floor. Make sure your body stays aligned in plank without sagging or lifting your hips.
- Drop down as far as you can without touching the ground and then press your body weight back up into your wide arm plank position. Don't get frustrated if you can only bend your arms slightly before pressing back up. Your range will improve as you build your chest strength.
- Repeat 8 to 12 reps.
3. If in Doubt, Stick With Daily Exercise
If you're not exactly ready to dive into the world of weightlifting, start off with daily exercise that helps improve your overall calorie burn, which will contribute to weight loss and skin firmness (i.e., breast skin firmness).
Jogging, brisk walking, dance classes, hiking and cycling are all moderate-intensity activities that you can try for at least 150 minutes per week for optimal health, per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Regular resistance training also helps improve your metabolism and create tight, firm skin.
Make sure you're wearing a supportive sports bra when you work out. You may need to purchase a variety of sizes as your breast size changes throughout your weight-loss journey.
4. Take a Look at Your Diet
Whether you've recently lost weight or are continuing to lose weight, a strategy that helps you shed pounds and firm up requires patience. That's why you should strive for a diet that's easy to maintain and offers balanced nutrition.
Aim to eat a diet rich in lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits at most meals. The amount of calories you need per day will depend on many things, including your body size, metabolism and other dietary needs.
Talk with your doctor or a dietitian about your caloric and dietary needs to create the best plan for you.
Previous research has shown that creating a 3,500-calorie deficit will help you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. However, this number will range greatly depending on your body type, genetics, metabolism and other dietary needs, per the Mayo Clinic.
5. Avoid Yo-Yo and Crash Dieting
As we mentioned, losing weight too quickly may slow your metabolism and overly stress the collagen and elastin in your breasts.
While it may feel tempting to try a crash diet and lose weight quickly, it is not healthy or sustainable, and could lead to saggy breasts. Avoiding them in the first place, and nourishing your body with plenty of nutrients instead, is most important.
6. Talk to Your Doctor About Other Options
If you've tried most of the above tips and still have saggy breasts after you've lost weight, talk to your doctor. They may suggest other natural remedies, cosmetic procedures, skin-care products or, if you qualify, breast-lift surgery.
The Bottom Line
Having saggy breasts after weight loss is often inevitable, especially as you age. But remember that it's totally normal.
Pregnancy, puberty, vigorous exercise and even genetics can play a role in sagging breasts, and breasts change throughout your life.
While you can strengthen the pectoral muscles to improve the appearance of breasts, you can't change sagging breast tissue itself. Likewise, creams that promise to tighten skin can help skin feel smoother, but they won't actually restore the collagen and elastin in your skin.
If you're unhappy with your sagging breasts after weight loss, discuss options for medical treatment with your doctor.
- Women’s Office on Health: “How to be Active for Health”
- American Council on Exercise: “The Three Most Effective Chest Exercises”
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Anatomy of the Breast"
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: "Anatomy of the Superficial Fascia System of the Breast: A Comprehensive Theory of Breast Fascial Anatomy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts"
- NLM: "Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Pectoral Muscles"
- Yale University: "Study: New fat cells are created quickly, but dieting can’t eliminate them"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Is It Bad to Lose Weight Too Quickly?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Elastin"
- Women's Health Research Institute: "Wrinkles, Aging, and Skin Protection"
- CDC: "How much physical activity do adults need?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight"
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition