How to prevent saggy breasts and keep that perky look – forever
08:26 GMT, 28 June 2012
Clearly, she was trying to look cutting-edge and youthful. But when 53-year-old Madonna bared one of her breasts on stage earlier this month, it also revealed a distressing reality for many women — saggy bosoms that have lost volume and pertness with age.
Pert: Eva Herzigova's traffic-stopping Wonderbra advert
So what causes breasts to sag And can anything be done to keep our most feminine assets in their prime Femail asks the experts.
FIGHTING GRAVITY’S IN YOUR GENES
No other part of the body is more affected by the force of gravity than the breasts.
From the moment a woman’s chest is
fully grown, in her late teens to mid-twenties, she faces an uphill
battle to defy the downward pull.
challenge is down to the fact that, while an average pair of breasts
weighs around 2lbs to 4lbs, there’s not much of a natural support
structure to keep them in place.
specialist and surgeon Ian Laidlaw, of Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey,
says drooping breasts can have a serious psychological impact on a
He says: ‘A large part of a woman’s femininity is her breasts. Sagging is a predictable change, yet it can have a profound impact.
‘The feelings women get when they can’t control the changes in their breasts can include inferiority, distorted body image, unattractiveness and worthlessness.’
The condition even has its own medical name — ptosis — and droopiness can be graded by doctors on a three-stage scale.
In pert, young breasts, the nipple is usually above the line where the base of the breast meets the chest — or the inframammary fold.
Asset management: Maintaining a constant weight is one of the best ways to stop your boobs heading south (posed by model)
/06/27/article-2165667-022A5BEB000004B0-871_233x423.jpg” width=”233″ height=”423″ alt=”Don't fear breastfeeding: Research found it didn't make a difference to sagging (posed by model)” class=”blkBorder” />
Don't fear breastfeeding: Research found it didn't make a difference to sagging (posed by model)
Women have long blamed their saggy boobs on breastfeeding.
Yet research has found that it’s the expansion and contraction of the milk glands triggered by pregnancy, rather than breastfeeding, that causes droopiness.
In one American study, an academic
interviewed 132 women seeking breast lifts or enlargements. Just over
half had breastfed at least one child for an average of nine months.
Researchers found no difference in the degree of sagging between women who had breastfed and those who had not.
Consultant Mr Laidlaw says: ‘Women
should definitely consider breastfeeding — especially as the health
benefits for the baby far outweigh any possible effects on the breasts.’
STUB OUT THOSE CIGARETTES
anywhere else on the body, the skin on the breast includes a network of
collagen fibres, which make it firm, and elastin to make it flexible.
Over time, these fibres break down.
The rate at which skin cells renew themselves also slows as we get older.
as on the face, it’s important never to expose the breasts to too much
sun because ultraviolet exposure will break down collagen and elastin.
And in the same way that smoking leads to wrinkles, it also leads to the deterioration of breast skin.
Mr Laidlaw, who is also based at the Nuffield Hospital, Guildford, said: ‘The effect on a woman’s breasts is so marked that it is possible to see if she smokes just by looking at the condition of her breasts. Even giving up smoking after a number of years will lead to a marked improvement.’
He says he is sceptical about skin creams containing oestrogen and vitamin E, which promise to improve breast pertness.
‘You can absorb oestrogen through the skin but it’s not a very efficient way of doing it, compared to HRT,’ he says. ‘If these creams really worked, doctors would be recommending them.’
EXERCISE — BUT BEWARE THE BOUNCE
There's both good and bad news when it comes to exercise.
The right regime can keep your breasts pert by improving blood supply.
While there is no muscle in the breast itself, it is possible to build up the underlying pectorals for a lifting effect.
But some activities — particularly running — can take their toll.
Reduce bounce: Always wear a sports bar when running (posed by model)
When you run without proper support, the breasts bounce in a figure of eight, causing wear and tear on the supporting ligaments.
Jenny White, of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth, says: ‘We have found that breasts move an average of 10cms — up and down, side-to-side, and forwards and backwards.’
The larger your cup size, the greater the force on the breasts and the more they need to be restrained to avoid damage to connective tissue and ligaments.
Yet researchers estimate that, of the 12 million British women who regularly exercise, three-quarters do not wear a proper sports bra —even though they can reduce bounce by up to 74 per cent.
YOU CAN’T HELP YOUR HORMONES
Oestrogen is the main hormone influencing how your breasts look.
It’s this, the female sex hormone, which first makes the breasts grow — and stimulates the development of a tree-like network of milk ducts leading to the nipple.
Every month, as part of the menstrual cycle, rising levels of oestrogen prepare a woman’s body for possible pregnancy.
One side effect is that it stimulates the breast tissue by making it expand and retain water.
After menopause, when oestrogen levels begin to fall permanently, milk ducts and glands ‘go into retirement’ and shrink — making the breasts feel emptier.
The tissue which makes breasts firm also shrivels and gets replaced by fat, which is heavier and less able to withstand gravity.