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Does sleeping in a bra prevent sagging?

Old wives’ tales abound when it comes to women and their bras. Some say wearing a bra can cause breast cancer -- it doesn’t. Others swear the average bra cup size is a B -- it’s actually a C.

But perhaps the most heralded pearl of wisdom passed down from mother to daughter is that sleeping in a bra will prevent breasts from sagging.  

Is it true? Grace Ma, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Piedmont, sets the record straight.

“There are all of these rumors out there that if you sleep in your bra, your breasts won’t sag as much,” says Dr. Ma. “That really is a myth. Unfortunately, sagging is a natural consequence of aging. And the rate at which women’s breasts droop and the degree of drooping depends on a lot of factors: cigarette smoking, weight gain, pregnancy and gravity. There really is no way to reverse or prevent that.”

And though sleeping in a bra won’t prevent sagging, it can provide comfort for women who have large breasts.

“When women who have large breasts lay down, their breasts can fall laterally,” says Dr. Ma. “They can kind of drag and be very uncomfortable and painful and pull on the chest. In those cases, wearing something supportive can be more comfortable.”

Choosing the right bra

And though bras can never reverse the effects of Mother Nature, they can provide women with the shape and support they desire. Dr. Ma offers the following tips for choosing the right bra:

  • Get fitted by a professional.  “A lot of people will not get the right size,” says Dr. Ma. “When you are falling out of or spilling out of your bra, that’s not proper support.  You need something with a band that will fit you snuggly around your torso, because that’s going to keep everything in place.”

  • Make sure your bra is comfortable.  A bra should be properly fitted so it’s comfortable, but supportive. And it should be supportive enough that you don’t feel the strain in your back and shoulders.

  • Don’t get a bra that is too restrictive. Lose the bras that cause indentation bruising in the shoulders or that have wires that cut into your chest.

“If you choose a bra that is properly fitted and snug around your torso, it’s going to support your breasts better,” says Dr. Ma. “And ultimately, you will have less pulling in your shoulders and it will be better for your posture and neck and back frame.”

Learn more about women’s health from Piedmont providers.

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