Saggy breasts are part of a change in breast appearance that most women experience, especially as they get older. This tends to be a completely natural cosmetic change. Still, some women may not want saggy breasts. The medical term for saggy breasts is breast ptosis. There’s lots of information about what does (and doesn’t) actually contribute to saggy breasts. Some is true, while some is misconception.
Regardless, there are ways you can prevent and improve saggy breasts.What are the causes of saggy breasts?
Usually owing to age, ligaments in the breasts (called Cooper’s ligaments) stretch out over time. This is typically due to gravity, though other causes may be involved.
Information about what causes — or doesn’t cause — saggy breasts can be conflicting. Luckily, facts have been separated from misconceptions over time.
True causes of saggy breasts include:
- collagen deficiency
- estrogen deficiency
- high body mass index
- larger breast size
- multiple pregnancies
- rapid weight loss followed by weight gain (or vice versa)
Debunked causes of saggy breasts:
- not wearing a bra
- wearing a bad bra
The loss of skin elasticity due to aging is the most common cause of saggy breasts. Another factor is smoking, which accelerates aging and thus contributes to sagging breasts, sometimes even earlier in life.
Multiple pregnancies are another cause, though breastfeeding is not. Hormonal changes shrink and expand milk ducts with each pregnancy, which can lead to sagging tissues. Rapid weight changes pre- and post-pregnancy can add to this.
Large breast size leads to a higher chance of sagging, solely because higher breast mass is more vulnerable to gravity.
However, choosing to breastfeed one’s child has no effect on breast firmness. Breastfeeding is commonly thought to stretch breast tissues and lead to sagging. However, studies find this to be untrue.How can you prevent or treat saggy breasts?
Want to reduce your risk of saggy breasts, or improve breast firmness? Here are some things you can do.Manage a healthy weight
You don’t necessarily need to lose weight, nor do you need to gain weight. Instead, keep weight consistent, and at a level that’s healthy for you. This may prevent breast sag and make breasts firmer.Find a well-fitting, comfortable bra
This especially applies to workouts, such as jogging. A sports bra with ample support (molded cups) can reduce breast motion. One study suggests that breast motion from exercise leads to stretching and sagging, though more studies are needed.
When not working out, the same study states that you don’t necessarily need a bra to prevent breast sagging. In fact, wearing the wrong bra size may have more negative effects than not wearing one at all.Don’t smoke, or quit smoking
Smoking accelerates the aging process. Aging causes tissues — including breast ligaments — to lose firmness. Smoking specifically speeds aging by destroying elastin, a protein that helps skin remain supple.Get a hormone test
A drop in the hormone estrogen, which occurs normally during menopause, may be associated with a decrease in tissue collagen. Finding healthy ways to boost estrogen levels (such as with phytoestrogens or supplements) may improve breast shape and form.
Talk to your doctor and get a test before trying to raise your estrogen levels.Carefully consider pregnancy
If your desire for unchanged breast appearance is greater than growing your family, consider avoiding getting pregnant. Studies show that the more pregnancies a woman has, the more likely she will experience saggy breasts.Try a pectoral muscle workout
While there are no muscles in the breast itself, you can work the muscles underneath. These are called the pectoralis major muscles. Some workouts target these, and they may give your breasts a little natural lift.Get plastic surgery
Many different surgical procedures can lift the breasts. These can help restore your breasts to a more youthful, supple appearance. It’s an expensive option, but has the most dramatic results.
Saggy breasts happen for many reasons. Breastfeeding, wearing a bra, or not wearing a bra are not factors you need to worry about.
Normal aging, pregnancy, smoking, and hormones are the major factors. There are many ways to manage these in your own life to improve breast firmness.
Cruz N. (2013). The effect of breastfeeding on breast ptosis following augmentation mammaplasty.
Rinker B, et al. (2008). The effect of breastfeeding on breast aesthetics.
Rinker B, et al. (2010). Breast ptosis: Causes and cure.
Scurr JC, et al. (2010). Supported and unsupported breast displacement in three dimensions across treadmill activity levels. DOI: