Sagging Breasts

As women get older, their breasts start to undergo certain changes. Sometimes the size will decrease significantly. They'll seem to deflate and lose their perky teardrop shape. The skin in that area will become more lax and lose its elasticity, making it harder for the breasts to hold themselves up. The breasts become softer, and the nipple will start to gradually droop. The areola will start to change and maybe even disappear. This is a sign that the breasts are sagging. It's a perfectly natural  phenomenon, but it can become a source of concern for many patients who want to preserve their youthful physique. 

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What are Sagging Breasts?

Sagging breasts, also known as breast ptosis, is one of the many changes that women go through when they start to get older. Aging causes the breasts to decrease in size. They will become softer and lose some of their youthful volume, and the nipple will start to droop lower. Sometimes the nipple falls below what is known as the inframammary fold. This is the portion of the breast region that connects with the chest wall and often folds forward. The nipple's position in relation to it is used in the aesthetic community as a way to measure the degree of sagging. 

At first, the nipple will point upwards or straight out, elevated by firm, healthy tissue, mammary glands, strong skin, and fat. As time goes on, the nipple will fall lower, and it will often keep falling until it has sunk back behind the breasts, leaving it partially concealed. This is when ptosis has fully taken hold. It is the result of a number of factors that occur during that time in a woman's life, each exacerbating the problem even further. It cannot be solved with exercise or dieting. If women want to reverse sagging, they will have to undergo cosmetic treatment. 

Common Types of Sagging Breasts?

Sagging breasts come in various stages depending upon how far along the process is, and they can also take several different forms. This is measured mostly by the position of the nipple in relation to the inframammary fold, but it can also be measured by breast volume, shape, and size.

  • Ptosis

    The term "ptosis" can refer to sagging breasts in general, along with all of the issues that accompany them. It can also refer specifically to a nipple that is drooping lower as a result of aging, weight loss, skin laxity, or simply the effects of gravity. Typically the nipple is supposed to be level with or higher than the top of the inframammary fold. When it drops lower, that is a sign of ptosis. Ptosis occurs in varying degrees, each measured by the angle the nipple points in. There are several cosmetic procedures that can be used to correct the problem.

  • Empty Sac Syndrome

    As a woman ages, the breasts tend to deflate. This is due to a loss of volume, caused by fat depletion and the dehydration of tissue beneath the skin. It's also caused by a loss of skin elasticity, which would normally help the breasts elevate themselves. The term "empty sac syndrome' refers to breasts that have lost their youthful, tear-drop shape, causing them to sag lower. When this happens, the nipple doesn't droop. Instead, it maintains its normal position in line with the inframammary fold. When the general public talks about sagging breasts, they're usually referring to empty sac syndrome.

  • Pseudoptosis

    Pseudoptosis is similar to empty sac syndrome. It occurs when all of the factors that cause the breasts to be firm and voluminous fade, resulting in an altered shape and a decrease in size. But the aging process isn't necessarily uniform. Sometimes volume loss and skin laxity occur in one portion of the breast region and not the other. In the case of pseudoptosis, the area below the nipple retains its youthful qualities, but the top of the breasts do not, causing them to have an almost caved-in aesthetic. This allows the nipple to maintain its position in line with the inframammary fold. 

What Causes Sagging Breasts?

It is true that sagging breasts are an inescapable part of aging that everyone faces. But they are also the result of many external and internal factors, many of which can be controlled by living a health lifestyle, dieting, exercising, avoiding smoking, and protecting yourself against the sun. Most of the causes below can be prevented or reduced by doing so.

  • Decreased Estrogen Production

    As women get older, their bodies start to produce less estrogen. When this happens, their ducts and mammary glands shrink, causing the breasts to shrink with them. Preemptive hormone therapy can cause puberty-like symptoms such as tenderness and swelling, which helps to prevent sagging. But it won't help if the breasts were sagging before that therapy started.

  • Skin Laxity

    The skin's strength is naturally reinforced by a protein known as collagen. As women age, the body has a harder time producing collagen, making it more difficult for the skin around the breasts to hold up. Eventually the skin stretches, and the natural structure that holds up the breasts gives way, causing them to sag. 

  • Gravity

    We don't often think about the effect that physics has on our bodies. To many, natural laws are separate from biological functions. But gravity plays a huge part in determining how quickly the breasts sag. It pulls on the skin, stretching it, and causing it to lose elasticity. This is why women with larger breasts tend to sag quicker.

  • Weight Fluctuations

    When we gain or lose weight, the skin loses its ability to snap back and conform to the shape of our bodies. This is due to the destruction of the natural structure that gives our skin strength and elasticity. That is why, when women lose weight, their breasts tend to sag.

Procedures That Remedy Sagging Breasts

Breasts have always been a major focal point in the world of plastic surgery. Countless billions have been spent learning to understand them, rebuild them, and reshape them. So when it comes to treating sagging breasts, women have a lot of options. The problem can be handled safely and easily using tried and true surgical techniques.

  • Breast Lift

    A breast lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to treat the signs of gravity and aging in the breasts by elevating them. Surgeons accomplish this by removing excess skin, allowing the breasts to hang higher, while also dealing with some of the lax skin that gives the breasts their sagging, teardrop shape.

    Find doctors who offer Breast Lift
  • Breast Augmentation

    Breast augmentation, also known as a "boob job," is a cosmetic surgical procedure during which the surgeon creates an incision and inserts various types of implants into each breast. This will help give the breasts volume and a more youthful shape. It can also help address a drooping nipple.

    Find doctors who offer Breast Augmentation
  • Breast Reduction

    A breast reduction is a surgical procedure designed to decrease the size of the breasts. This is usually accomplished by removing tissue, fat, and skin. It is great for breasts that hang lower than they should, especially those of women who have a larger cup size, and it can help restore a more youthful shape.

    Find doctors who offer Breast Reduction

Frequently Asked Questions

Breast sagging is a natural part of aging, but there is no specific age when it begins, and there are other causes that can lead to sagging. For many women, their breasts begin to sag in their forties when their skin starts to lose elasticity. That will depend on whether or not they have endured long exposure to the sun among other factors. For some women, it can happen earlier. This is especially the case for women whose weight has fluctuated over the years, and it's also common in women who have a larger cup size. Breast sagging can also coincide with estrogen depletion during menopause.

There are exercises that can build the pectoral muscles beneath the breasts. Sometimes they are marketed as a way to help reduce sagging. But breasts are not made of muscle. They're made of fat and tissue, which does not respond to exercise at all. Sagging breasts can be prevented by avoiding an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, and sun exposure. But it cannot be repaired without the aid of some sort of cosmetic treatment such as a breast lift. Fortunately, the surgical methods used to lift breasts are quite safe and effective. They've been used successfully for decades to help women with this issue.

Breast lifts are the most common procedure performed to reduce sagging. They work by reducing the amount of loose skin in that region, which has the effect of lifting the tissue beneath. Surgeons will also reposition the nipple and move it upwards, giving it a more youthful orientation. The technique is sound and very effective. Most patients find that the effects last for 15 years or more, which can be long enough that they won't have to experience sagging later in life. Breast lifts do not increase size, so many surgeons combine the procedure with breast augmentation to address volume loss.

Some myths are so pervasive that even members of the medical community have a hard time getting past them. But time and time again, research has proven that breastfeeding does not cause the breasts to sag. Pregnancy does, which is why so many people have bought into the myth. When a woman gets pregnant, the ligaments inside her breasts stretch to accommodate the added material inside of them. Ligament does not have the same elasticity as skin, which means it doesn’t stretch back. So when this happens, it can cause the breasts to sag. This is most often a problem for women who have undergone multiple pregnancies.

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