The quest for comfort has become a defining trend of the pandemic wardrobe shift. Sales of shirts, blouses and tops are up, while purchases for items we wear below Zoom view have fallen. And when we aren’t on camera, many women have opted to stop wearing not only makeup . . . but bras.
This shrinking bra consumption leads to a curious question: Will America’s breasts suffer and sag without support?
Fact vs. Fiction
First, yes, your breasts can sag for a variety of reasons. Drooping is the result of changes in the ligaments that form the supporting structures inside the chest. Over time – and for various reasons – these ligaments can lengthen and weaken. But no, going without a bra is not one of the reasons.
While there is no medical cause for concern about a sagging bosom, depending on breast size and degree of drooping, it can lead to back pain and issues with self-esteem or body perception.
The Real Reasons for Sagging Breasts
Weight Gain/Loss. Female breasts are composed primarily of body fat and milk ducts. Increases (or decreases) in weight due to diet, pregnancy or other health issues can add weight to the breast. This causes a natural expansion of the Cooper ligaments. Nursing mothers, for example, will experience stretched ligaments even after the baby is weaned and breasts shrink in size. This issue can be compounded by multiple pregnancies or substantial fluctuations in weight.
Exercise. Staying fit and healthy is great for your body, but depending on the impact and regularity of your exercise routine, can cause your breasts to bounce or be strained in some way. Over time this can result in a stretching of the ligaments and potential sagging. In this instance, bra wearing — specifically tight, supportive sports bras designed to minimize breast movement during exercise — can mitigate some of the effects.
Age. As we age, we naturally lose collagen, the protein that makes up connective tissue in the body, including those in the breasts. When this collagen breaks down, combined with gravity, some natural drooping will occur. Add collagen’s enemy to the equation — UV rays — and you’ll find your skin’s elasticity will diminish even quicker.
Is This Condition Reversible or Repairable?
Once the Cooper ligaments have stretched out, there is little one can naturally do to reverse the damage. But there are easy fixes that can mask the issue. In addition, surgical options can both restore and even enhance the breast’s shape and fullness.
Exercise. A woman’s breasts do not actually contain any muscle, but exercises that work the muscles beneath the breasts can reduce the appearance of sagging and slow down the natural aging process. To tackle this, speak with your gym’s personal trainer for a program that focuses on the pectoralis major and minor muscle groups.
Diet. The food and drink you consume can help your body produce collagen. A diet that contains sources of vitamin C, phytoestrogens, Omega-3 Fatty acids and the amino acid L-Arginine will go a long way in maintaining your skin’s elasticity and overall health. There are also a variety of over-the-counter collagen supplements that can provide an extra boost.
Mastopexy. One of the surgical options that utilizes a body contouring approach is mastopexy or a breast lift. With a mastopexy, a doctor will remove excess skin and reshape your breasts. Depending on your breast’s shape, skin quality and elasticity, the doctor can determine a technique and approach specific to your individual concerns.
Breast augmentation. This popular procedure extends the surgical approach to include a silicon-gel or saline-filled implant to enhance breast size as well as repair sagging. As with any invasive medical procedures, it comes with a degree of risk, along with benefits. Your doctor will go over the available options and advise you of the factors to consider before undertaking this solution.
Breast reduction. Patients with larger breasts and sagging may consider a breast reduction, which reduces the breast size and places them back into anatomical position.
Our bodies, and all its parts, are not immune to change over time. As we navigate life’s challenges, the best approach is often a proactive one. So go ahead, slip into something comfortable, eat sensibly, exercise regularly and don’t fret about going braless.
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