is a very common problem and are a natural consequence of aging. The medical term for this condition is ‘Ptosis’ of the breast and the causes are still not clearly defined or understood.
The severity of the ptosis is evaluated according to the position of the nipple with relation to the inframammary crease, which is the point where the underside of the breast is attached to the chest wall.
Causes of Sagging Breasts
There are several factors that influence the development and degree of sagging breasts. Surprisingly, one of the key factors is cigarette smoking. There is a protein called elastin in our skin which is responsible for its elasticity; smoking breaks down this protein and decreases the elasticity of the skin which in turn causes sagging breasts. Pregnancy is another cause of sagging breasts and the effects are more pronounced after multiple pregnancies
. It is not surprising that gravity would have an effect on breasts and this is most obvious in larger-breasted women. Significant weight gain and weight loss of 50 lbs. or more is also a key factor in ptosis of the breast. In addition to these causes, heredity is an influencing factor as it determines an individual’s skin elasticity.
Symptoms of Sagging Breasts
By her mid-30s, a woman’s breasts start to lose fatty tissue resulting in a reduction of size and fullness. One of the first symptoms of sagging breasts is a noticeable shift of the areola towards the lower portion of the breast. The ligaments and connective tissue in a woman’s breasts gives shape to her breasts and requires estrogen to remain elastic. As a woman ages, the amount of estrogen her body produces decreases and this has a negative effect on the elasticity of her skin and results in sagging breasts.
Diagnosis of Sagging Breasts
A general physician or a plastic surgeon will diagnose sagging breasts using a ptosis scale to grade the severity of the sagging by describing the nipple position with regard to the inframammary crease. The most common scale is the Regnault ptosis scale given below:
- Mild Ptosis (Grade I): In a case of mild ptosis, the nipple is at the same level as the inframammary crease.
- Moderate Ptosis (Grade II): In a case of moderate ptosis, the nipple is situated below the inframammary crease but the lower breast tissue hangs below the nipple.
- Advanced Ptosis (Grade III): In a case of advanced ptosis, the nipple is situated below the inframammary crease and at the level of maximum breast projection.
- Severe Ptosis (Grade III): In a case of severe ptosis, the nipple is situated far below the inframammary crease and at the level of maximum breast projection.
Prevention of Sagging Breasts
We may not have control over some of the causes of sagging breasts such as heredity factors and aging but we do have control over other factors such as smoking and drastic weight gain. The first thing you need to do in order to prevent breast sagging is to give up smoking (if you smoke) and reduce your exposure to second-hand smoke. Avoid yo-yo dieting and fad diets as these will lead to massive fluctuations in your body weight. If you are overweight, go on a healthy weight-loss plan that includes a low calorie diet along with regular exercise. The unrestrained movement of large breasts while running or jogging may contribute towards sagging over a prolonged period. Wear a sports bra while exercising to prevent sagging breasts.
Exercises to Prevent Sagging Breasts
A woman’s breasts do not contain any muscular tissue and are composed of soft, glandular tissue. This means that in order to have toned and firm breasts, the muscles beneath the breasts have to be strengthened. The pectoralis major muscle and the pectoralis minor muscle lie below and behind the breasts so any exercises that involve these muscles will go a long way in preventing sagging breasts. Here are a few exercises for sagging breasts that you can include in your regular exercise schedule. However, please consult your gym instructor
before you attempt these exercises:
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart with a 3.5 lbs dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms sideways until they are at shoulder level and then lower them again. Do a minimum of 2 sets with 15 reps.
- Chest Fly: Lie down on your exercise bench with the soles of your feet pressed flat on the floor. Hold 3-5 pound weights in both your hands and lift your arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Bend your elbows slightly as you lower your arms to your sides until they are in level with your chest. If you are using an exercise bench, make sure that you do not lower the weights too much.
- Push-ups: Position yourself on the floor so that you are resting on your knees with your palms touching the floor and about shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the floor until your chin almost touches the ground. Slowly raise yourself back to your starting position. Do at least 15 reps.