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Sagging breasts: Lifestyle hacks to the rescue
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Sagging breasts: Lifestyle hacks to the rescue

Breast sagging is a natural phenomenon. It can be caused by aging, menopause, obesity and smoking, say experts

Breasts are made up of fatty tissues. Breast sagging — or ptosis as it is medically known — is a common phenomenon, especially as women age. With age, the breast tissues lose their elasticity and the breasts start to gradually hang down, causing sagging breasts.

Sagging breasts: A natural phenomenon

Human anatomy reveals that there is no muscle in the breast — it comprises fat and tissues surrounded by glands. Dr Krishna P Syam, consultant, obstetrician and gynecologist, Care Hospitals, Hyderabad, says, “Breast sagging is natural but it can have varied causes. However, one cannot regain the original contour.”

Dr Nithya Ramamurthy, senior consultant, gynecology, Fortis Malar, Adyar, Chennai, points out, “Saggy breasts are a common concern in most women over 45, who are nearing their perimenopausal age.” She adds that genetic reasons are frequently behind this condition in younger women.

Causes

Experts explain various causative factors for saggy breasts:

Aging and menopause: Menopausal transition or perimenopause gradually reduces the estrogen level in the body. These hormonal changes affect bone and muscle strength, explains Dr Syam. This includes the pectoralis major muscle that forms the base of the breast.

Multiple pregnancies: Dr Ramamurthy shares that more than three pregnancies can also lead to saggy breasts. Every pregnancy expands the breast tissues and leads to an increase in the size of the breasts. Besides, estrogen levels spike during pregnancy and reduce abruptly after childbirth. Dr Syam adds that breastfeeding does not cause saggy breasts in women, but excessive weight gain does.

Heavy breasts: Obesity can lead to increased fatty tissue around the breasts. In those with high body mass, increased skin elasticity is seen as compared to non-obese women, which can cause saggy breasts. Dr Ramamurthy adds, “Pendulous breasts [breasts that are longer in shape and have softer tissue while being heavy around the nipple] start sagging faster than others.” One of the early signs is when the nipples begin to face downwards,” she points out. 

Fluctuations in weight: Sudden weight gain or loss can cause breast sagging due to constant changes in the elasticity of fatty tissue. This is what possibly affected Shifali Saha (name changed on request), a 37-year-old from Kolkata. She initially lost a substantial amount of weight just before her wedding in 2011 in a short time. In the years leading up to her pregnancy in 2018, her weight fluctuated multiple times, causing the early sagging of her breasts. “It concerned me when I was getting married. However, the root of my problem was weight gain and my subsequent efforts to shed it,” says Saha, who took medical help to come to terms with it. What came to her rescue was the push-up bras, which improved the appearance of her breasts.

Choice of bra: “When one does not wear an appropriately-sized bra, it can result in sagging,” explains Dr Ramamurthy.  She advises women to wear a breastfeeding bra rather than going braless post-pregnancy. Moreover, doctors caution that wearing tight bras in an attempt to lift the breast will cause harm rather than good.

Smoking: While nicotine can cause significant health issues, there is insufficient focus on its effect on skin and tissues. Smoking affects skin elasticity indirectly as nicotine constricts blood vessels. “The reduced blood flow affects the hormones, which can also lead to saggy breasts,” explains Dr Karthik Aithal, Plastic Surgeon, Manipal Hospitals, Mangalore.

How to delay sagging of breasts

Experts advise that sagging of breasts is inevitable. But it can be delayed with some lifestyle hacks. These include:

  • Eating estrogen-rich food
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly
  • Shedding excess weight after pregnancy
  • Practicing hand stretching exercises to strengthen and tone pectoral muscles
  • Wearing a well-fitted, wired bra. One must wear a bra while working out and even during the breastfeeding period.
  • Avoiding postures like stooping or bending forward while breastfeeding. Instead, one can sit upright to feed the baby and bring the baby close to the breast.How to delay the sagging of breasts

Breast lift to prevent breast sagging

Breast lift is an option for women who want to correct their sagging breasts, advises Dr Aithal. This surgical procedure removes excess fatty tissues and reshapes the breasts. Any woman, including those who are undergoing or have attained menopause, can opt for this surgery, explains Dr Aithal. Besides regular gynecological screening, women who choose breast lift surgery are also advised mammograms to rule out cancerous lesions in the breasts, he adds.

Takeaways

  • Breast sagging is inevitable but can be delayed.
  • Obesity, sudden weight gain or loss, incorrect breastfeeding posture, aging, menopause and smoking are the leading causes of saggy breasts.
  • Regular exercise, healthy eating, and oil massages help delay this issue.

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