Unfortunately, our breasts age right along with the rest of our body. When it comes to our face, we know too much sun and smoking can contribute to aging, among other things, but have you ever thought about what makes the breasts age faster?
“As women age, the breasts are not immune to the process. With age, the ligaments of the breast, known as Cooper’s ligaments, can stretch, resulting in a sagging appearance. This is called ptosis—Greek for ‘to fall,’” says New York plastic surgeon B. Aviva Preminger, MD. “When Cooper’s ligaments stretch, the breast tissue falls to the lower part of the breast, and the upper breast fullness is reduced.”
Well-endowed women may have won the lottery in the earlier half of life, but in the latter half, they’re more likely to see their breasts age quicker. Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD, says genetic factors are likely to outweigh everything else. “So go ahead, live life! Then find yourself a good plastic surgeon,” she advises. While many of the factors are out of our control, like gravity and genetics, there are others we have more of a handle on.
Sleeping on your stomach
We have bad news for all the stomach sleepers out there. While it might not seem like a big deal, over time, putting all your weight on your breasts can age them age more rapidly and flatten them. Dr. Preminger advises avoiding sleeping on your stomach as much as you can.
Not taking care of the skin
Just like the rest of our body, our breasts will age if we don’t take care of the skin on them. “The skin is subject to the same forces of aging as the rest of our skin, solar damage and a decrease in collagen content,” says Dr. Preminger. To keep the breast region safe, she suggests wearing sunscreen and keeping the breasts and décolleté well moisturized.
Duxbury, MA plastic surgeon Christine Hamori, MD, notes that this area of the body is too often left out of sun protection. “This results in solar elastosis lines, wrinkles, creases, areas of pigmented splotches and hyperpigmentation, which can appear as aged skin,” she warns. In addition to preventive sunscreen, Dr. Hamori says there are rejuvenating treatments such as topical glycolic acid, injectable stimulators and microneedling to consider.
Not wearing a bra, especially when working out
While we don’t want it to be true, experts say this old wive’s tale is likely accurate. Dr. Preminger says you should “support your breast’s perkiness—pun intended—by wearing a supportive bra, especially when exercising.” Although there is not a ton of research behind it, Dr. Hamori says, “it would seem intuitive that over time if one fails to wear a supportive bra and continues to run, the skin may become more stretched and ptotic, especially if one’s breast or larger.” In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Major fluctuations in weight
A significant shift in weight can result in premature breast aging as the size of the chest tries to catch up to the body. Major weight loss can result “in dramatic changes in breast skin ptosis and glandular ptosis,” says Dr. Hamori. Dr. Preminger suggests avoiding “major fluctuations in your weight” if possible. Maintaining a steady weight “may improve the appearance of the breast with age,” says Dr. Hamori.
Pregnancy and nursing
Speaking of major fluctuations in weight, for many people, pregnancy and nursing largely target the breasts when it comes to tacking on pounds. “Breast tissue is under hormonal control, and if a woman experiences a large increase in breast size during pregnancy or nursing, this would impact the appearance of the breast once the breasts shrink down, leaving loose wrinkled skin,” says Dr. Hamori.
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