Breasts that begin to droop over time are a natural part of female aging, but other things like pregnancy, breastfeeding and weight loss can add to the problem. If you feel you might be perceived as less attractive if your breasts sag, you're not alone. A July 2017 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology found that saggy breasts are universally less appealing to a potential partner.
Although sagging is inevitable as you age due to loss of collagen in the tissue, using a regular breast care routine throughout your life to keep your skin supple and the pectoral muscles toned can help delay the inevitable.
A Common Problem
Known medically as ptosis, saggy boobs are one of the most common issues that plastic surgeons encounter. Although American marketing gears the consumer toward seeking eternal youth, worries about perceptions of potential sexual partners are universal, as shown in a July, 2017 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology, including more than 100 participants living in Poland and Papua New Guinea. Men in both cultures found breasts that were droopy less attractive and associated them with aging.
And although there's a lot you can do to keep your pair looking their best as you age, the sag will eventually catch up with you. That's because the Cooper's ligaments that support them consist of collagen and elastin, two things that naturally diminish in the body as it gets older.
Give the Girls Support
When you're exercising, it's vital to support the weight of your breasts to prevent stretching the ligaments as your breasts move up and down. Although it's intuitive for women to want to do so — as excessive breast movement can also be painful or cause soreness — many women wear a sports bra that doesn't fit appropriately, according to Sports Medicine Australia.
Read more: How to Fix Saggy Breasts
Choosing a proper support bra for your workout means more than just knowing your cup size and chest measurement. Level of support is crucial, too. Older women, for example, have less elasticity in their skin than younger women, so they should opt for maximum levels of support even if breasts are not yet sagging. Women of any age with large breasts — which are naturally heavier — require a firmer foundation.
The type of activity you do is also vital to choosing your workout bra. Yoga, walking and weight lifting are more suited toward crop tops or yoga bras for women who are younger or have smaller breasts. Jogging and horseback riding that produces more pronounced up-and-down movement, on the other hand, are best supported with a robust foundational layer to prevent injury to breast tissue that can lead to soreness.
Support Them While Sleeping
Things might be going south when you're not even conscious of it. Sleeping position is one of the top five things that can cause breasts to sag, according to William Adams Jr., MD, Plastic Surgery.
Lying on your side can cause the upper breast to stretch as it succumbs to gravity during your sleep. This can lead to stretching of the Cooper's ligaments and other tissue. Stomach sleeping isn't good for your breasts either, according to Dr. Adams. The pressure of your weight crushes them into the mattress and cuts down on healthy blood flow to the area.
Sleep on your back or use a body pillow between your breasts if you're a side-sleeper suggests Adams. You might also try wearing a bra, although there's no definitive scientific evidence either way, according to Dr. Adams. However, big-busted women can likely benefit from the added support when it comes to preventing sagging.
Go Braless Wisely
In a 15-year study by sports science expert Jean-Denis Rouillon, the evidence showed that bras might harm more than they help. After measuring the breast sizes of women aged 18 to 35 over 15 years, the University of Besançon, France, study concluded that breasts don't benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, being exposed to constant support from a bra actually makes them sag more.
Perhaps most surprising, women who never wore a bra had nipples that were, on average, 7 millimeters higher in relation to their shoulders than those who were faithful brassiere wearers. Those who stopped wearing a bra during the study had improved the orientation of the breasts and experienced no deterioration due to the natural strengthening of the chest muscles in supporting the braless bosom.
It's important to note that participants in the study were younger than 35, so if you're older, keep in mind you're more likely to suffer from stretching and sagging due to less elasticity in your skin and ligaments.
Keep Them Toned
Keeping the pectoral muscles below the breasts toned can result in a more youthful appearance of your entire chest area. Although any machine that builds your chest muscles will help, you don't have to fork out for a gym membership to get results.
Simple pushups or lying on your back to do bench presses with a barbell or dumbbells are some of the simplest and most effective ways to tone the chest muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise. Toning your back muscles to improve posture is also essential. Lie face down with your legs straight and your arms above your head. Raise one arm and the opposite leg at the same time to tone posture muscles, suggests Health Research Funding.
For a more traditional yoga workout, try poses that will strengthen the chest area, such as Four-Limbed Staff, Upward Dog and Downward Dog poses. Breathe deeply to expand the lungs and chest for maximum benefits to your chest area.
Read more: The Results of Exercise on the Female Breast
Stay at Your Ideal Weight
Although it's natural to gain weight and lose it again while pregnant, try to avoid significant weight fluctuations at other times. Gaining and losing weight repeatedly can lead to skin that's less elastic and prone to stretch marks, as each time you gain weight, your breast's skin has to expand to accommodate extra fat tissue. Once the weight is lost, skin can remain flabby, stretched or riddled with "shrinkles" — little wrinkles of loose skin from weight loss — that let the breast tissue sink into a less-than-perky position.
- Science Direct: "Breast Ptosis"
- American Journal of Human Biology: "Breast Shape (Ptosis) as a Marker of a Woman's Breast Attractiveness and Age — Evidence From Poland and Papua"
- Sports Medicine Australia: "Exercise and Breast Support"
- William Adams Jr. MD, Plastic Surgery: "5 Surprising Habits That Could Be Causing Your Breasts to Sag"
- The American Council on Exercise: "Chest Isolation Exercises"
- Soutiengorge: "Jean Denis Rouillon Medecin"