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6 causes of breast sagging

Breast sagging is one of the many natural body changes women experience as they age. The female breasts are made of fat and ligaments, but lack muscle tissue, so there is no amount or type of exercise that will strengthen the breasts. However, according to Barry Roseman, M.D., a breast surgeon and surgical oncologist at Piedmont, if women are aware of the contributing factors, they can take preventive measures to avoid excessive sagging.

Causes of breast sagging

Here are some of the reasons Dr. Roseman says breasts sag:

Gravitational pull: Years of gravitational pull takes its toll, especially on women with larger breasts.

Aging: As a woman gets older, the ligaments that make up the breast tissue stretch and lose elasticity. As a result, breast fullness is compromised as the underlying support system of tissue and fat diminishes. A change may be particularly evident during menopause.

Lack of proper support: Wearing a supportive bra is important to maintaining breast shape and lift. “Lack of proper support will take its toll over a 30- to 40-year period. I highly recommend women get professionally fitted for a supportive bra at a lingerie or department store that offers this service,” Dr. Roseman says.

Weight gain: Great fluctuations in weight can cause unnecessary stretching of the breasts. Maintaining a healthy weight will help women avoid the progression of unnecessary stretching.

Smoking: Carcinogens in cigarette smoke cause elastin to break down in the body. These elastin fibers are responsible for skin elasticity throughout the body.

Sunburn: Ultraviolet rays damage the skin and cause loss of elasticity as well.

“One preconceived notion is that breast-feeding causes breasts to sag, when in fact research has shown that it is simply the size changes that a woman's breasts undergo through pregnancy that cause sagging. For women who are concerned about this change, I recommend they lose the extra baby-weight as quickly as possible after childbirth in an effort to go back to their ‘normal’ weight and size,” Dr. Roseman says.

He also encourages women to look beyond the social pressures of body image and focus on maintaining overall body health. This will greatly impact breast health along the way, too.

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