Women's breasts age faster after multiple pregnancies – but nursing and hormone replacement therapy are the secrets to keeping chests young
22:42 GMT, 4 September 2012
22:42 GMT, 4 September 2012
A study of identical twins has shown that breast feeding, daily moisturising and hormone replacement therapy positively affects how a woman's breasts age.
However smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can accelerate breast aging, according to researchers.
The study, published today, shows how environmental factors, as well as higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup
sizes can make breasts appear less beautiful over time.
Twin Sisters in Tank Tops Side by Side — Image by Annie Engel/Corbis
Using 161 twins aged between 25 and 74 for the study, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of
University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio identified specific lifestyle behaviors that can
slow the aging process in order to avoid plastic surgery.
to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly 316,848 women had breast
augmentations and 127,054 had breast lifts last year.
Dr Soltanian said: 'It's very rare that both twins have
been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life.
'The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic
standpoint. If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental
Each set of twins was asked to answer questions on independent lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, pregnancies, use of a bra, sports, hormone replacement therapy, moisturising and sun exposure.
Photos of the twins' breasts were then taken 'in a secluded area by professionals,' which were later 'subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers.'
'Breast appearance is so tied up in women's sexuality and self-image'
Researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size, however Dr Soltanian admitted there is 'no objective measurement' for what constitutes 'beautiful' breasts.
The surgeon, who does reconstructive surgeries for women after breast cancer, added however, 'that breast appearance and breast health as a whole are a major part of female health.'
Judy Kuriansky, a sex therapist from
Columbia University, said there is also a large psychological importance
of breast appearance to women.
'Breasts carry such anthropological importance,' she said. 'Like the hip size, it's about being fertile.'
'Women are obsessed with their breasts at all ages, because men are obsessed with their breasts,' she said.
'No matter how liberated women feel about their bodies, their breast size is so tied up in their sexuality and self-image.'
He said that moisturising your decolletage was an 'obvious' advantage on the skin's appearance, showing fewer wrinkles.
'We know from facial analysis that if you take care of the skin, it slows the aging process down,' he said.
According to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation, women who received hormone replacement therapy after menopause also had more attractive breast shape, size, projection, and areolar shape.
Although pregnancy itself seemed to have a negative effect on the appearance of women's breast, the study found that nursing after pregnancy actually improves skin quality – even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, he said.
'My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu – sort of like internal hormone replacement. So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit.'