"Hi, I will be 22 next month, never being pregnant or breastfed and yet my breasts are saggy. I am 5'4" and as long as I can remeber have always been overweight. I ... also have stretch marks on my breast and I am very happy I found this site because it has boosted my confidence so much. Thanks to everyone who put their pictures."
What causes sagging of breasts?
Sagging or drooping of breasts is a natural, inevitable process that happens to all women at some point, except to women with fairly small breasts.
The most notable sagging happens with the process called breast involution (see below), but breasts can start drooping a little at any age, because they do NOT have muscles in them. They have ligaments and connective tissue.
When the gravity pulls the breasts down, those ligaments and the skin can stretch, and so the breast then droops. This depends on the elasticity of your skin and of your ligaments, as determined by your genes and diet, and also on normal aging processes. Obviously large breasts will sag easier since the gravity is pulling them down more. When breasts bounce during active sports, such as tennis, those ligaments can also be stretched or even torn. A good sports bra can minimize that effect, and is recommendable.
"I am 22 years old. As I was developing, I remember thinking it was strange that my areolas were larger than my friends, and later, that my breasts were also much saggier. It caused me a lot of stress as a teenager: I wanted to be able to go braless like my girlfriends; I felt like I had missed out on the perky breasts every woman experiences (which I now know is so not true). I am coming to a point now of acceptance of my body. I may not have perfect breasts, but what does that really mean, or matter? I would rather focus on the fact that I am fortunate to not have breast cancer... to appreciate my health."
Breast involution is a process where the milk-making system inside the breast shrinks because it is not needed anymore. This happens either after weaning, or right after pregnancy if the woman does not breastfeed at all, or during menopause. When the tissues inside the breast shrink, and the skin surrounding it doesn't, the breast can look "empty" and saggy. After weaning, a woman's body usually deposits fat back to the breast (this process takes months), so that breasts will gain their pre-pregnancy size, but sagging usually remains.
Another common cause for sagging is when a woman loses weight. When you lose weight, some of that fat disappears from your breasts. Typically the skin and the ligaments inside the breasts do not retract accordingly, resulting in an 'empty' looking breast that then sags. (You could try prevent this by eating foods that provide extra good nutrition for your skin.)
Worries about sagging breasts is one of the most popular questions sent to this website. So if you feel your breasts droop, you are most certainly not alone!
Note: A scientific study that studied the effects of breastfeeding upon sagging, found that breastfeeding per se did not have an affect upon the sagging. However, pregnancy DID, because of the great physical changes that happen in the breasts during pregnancy. According to the study, the following were risk factors for an increased degree of breast sagging: body mass index (BMI), the number of pregnancies, a larger pre-pregnancy bra size, smoking history, and age.
(The Effect of Breastfeeding on Breast Aesthetics, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 28, Issue 5)
Is it normal to have sagging breasts if you haven't been pregnant?
While many women find themselves with sagging breasts after childbirth/weaning and after menopause (it's the involution at work), quite many childless women also claim that they have "awfully" saggy breasts and wonder if that is normal, or if their breasts are sagging more than most women of their age.
Just keep in mind that sagging happens to all women sooner or later—except those with very small breasts. For some of us, it happens sooner, even without pregnancy. There are even many teens with drooping breasts. It is not that uncommon! Just browse through our galleries to see examples of women in their 20s or younger who do have sagging breasts. Additionally, overweight women have some additional fat tissue in their breasts, which causes them to be heavier and therefore sag earlier than otherwise.
Women tend to be bothered by sagging because they feel it makes them less attractive. However, you might be surprised to learn that according to comments we have received, it is NOT a turn-off to many guys. We women may be overly preoccupied about something that isn't nearly as much an issue with the opposite sex as we might think!
"I am a 23 year old woman with no prior pregnancies or breastfeeding. I am a "normal" body type — athletic but not super skinny or muscular.
I have had one continuing problem with my breasts. When I was in high school I realized that my breasts faced more downwards than my friend's that was of the same body type otherwise. She could go to dances without bras and I couldn't. I started developing at the average-ish age of 10, was a C cup by age 12 or 13, then grew slowly to a D cup by college. Differently than some other women, when I gain weight I do not gain it in my cup size. In fact, when I gain weight I am a solid 34D but when I lose weight I am a 32 DD (depending of course on my time of the month, when I was on birth control and having my period the cup size was larger).
Again and again society (and even medical drawings, sadly enough) tell a woman her breasts are supposed to be "perky"; the nipples facing up, and more tissue below the nipple than above. Mine, as you can see above, are not like that. I am in the process of growing to love them. I still sometimes think about a lift... My hope is that by the time I'm financially able to do that I won't want to anymore. And more importantly, neither will the next girl who has doubts. Because nature gives us what it gives us. Biology is what it is and we have to accept that. I hope that my children and the friends of my children will grow up realizing that whatever they were born with is good. Hair, sagginess, small, large. I may not be that comfortable, but I really hope we raise our next generation to be. Please join me in that."
Can you prevent sagging?
Sagging cannot be totally prevented. It is an inevitable process because it is the gravity at work. However, there are a few things that you can try.
- Wearing sports bras during active sports helps prevent sagging, because when breasts bounce a lot during sports, that can stretch and harm the Cooper's ligaments inside breasts.
- If at all possible, do NOT wear bras all the time. I know most people think that bras prevent sagging, but this is not totally true! For most of us, bra wearing can actually increase sagging!
This sounds strange, perhaps, but it is based on scientific studies. For example, professor Jean-Denis Rouillon from Besancon, France, has published a study (2013) that shows that wearing bras may increase sagging. The 15-year study involved 330 volunteers between the ages 18 and 35. Researchers measured their breasts using a slide ruler and a caliper and recorded any changes throughout the study period. Women who did not wear bras had a 7 millimeter lift as measured from their nipples each year. Their breasts were also firmer, and their stretch marks faded. There was also no evidence that the bras helped get rid of back pain.
The idea is that when you wear bras, the muscle tissue that supports the breasts may not develop as well. Also, the Cooper's ligaments inside breasts can atrophy and shrivel away from not being used. "Use it, or lose it" seems to be at work! The gentle bouncing of breasts when you walk and move can help those ligaments stay in top shape. Perhaps breasts weren't meant to be kept totally "jiggless" and motionless! Just remember to wear sports bras during any active sports where the breasts would bounce a lot.
Now, women with heavy breasts may find that regular bra wearing can delay or diminish sagging, because their breasts are just so heavy. However, the jury is still out even on this, as there are not enough studies for us to know definitely.
- One other thing you can try (I'm not guaranteeing any results) is to help the elasticity of your skin and ligaments nutritionally, which could then help prevent or even reduce the drooping. For example, vitamin C is very important for the collagen synthesis within skin. There are also many other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help the skin and ligaments to be in top health.
And please remember that it is the changes during pregnancy, not breastfeeding, that increases sagging. Don't think you will escape droopy breasts just by skipping breastfeeding.
How to define 'sagging' breasts?
Sometimes sagging can be merely an issue of definition. Which pair of the breasts below would you consider as 'saggy'?
One dictionary definition of sagging is "hanging down (as from exhaustion or weakness)". We think of sagging as being drooping or sinking from weight or from pressure as compared to the 'norm'. So what is sagging depends on what is considered "the norm", how breasts should be when they are beautiful.
Some might think that all of the breasts above are sagging, and that is true if you compare them to the perky teenage breast. But really, the two pairs in the top row droop only slightly—so slightly that if you're past puberty but not through menopause, and your breasts don't droop more than that, then they sag very little or less in comparison to most women.
"I'm 25 years old, I've never been pregnant, and my breasts have never fed a baby. My breasts have always been this saggy. They're never constrained by a bra more than 20 hours a week, and lots of times I go weeks without wearing a bra at all. While I'm not brave enough to go topless in public, I often do at home.
I have had the stretch marks for as long as I've had the breasts (starting about age 9). There's also a bit of hair on them. I have some acne on my breasts as I do all over my body.
I think my breasts are very pretty and I'm aching for the day that I'll be able to feed little ones from them. The notion of being able to not only nourish a child with my breasts, but also comfort and reassure a child with my breasts, is very moving."
Women in the United States typically only see their own breasts and those of the supermodels, which have been fixed & augmented, and the photos have been airbrushed, modified, photoshopped—you name it. All that most of us can perceive of other women's breasts is just the fact they are bra-bound and bra-lifted. So this causes people—both men and women—to think that the normal or typical breast is what the models have in TV and magazines, and that anything else is sagging/too small/ugly/abnormal. Oh, what a deception!
In my mind, breasts are sagging when the nipple and most of the breast more or less point south or hangs... like you can see in the two pictures in the bottom row. You have the right for your opinion—hopefully based on having seen lots of natural breasts.
Plastic surgeons of course have an exact definition for sagging (or breast ptosis as they call it), which actually determines different degrees of sagginess/ptosis. The definition they use was first given by a Canadian plastic surgeon Paule Regnault in 1976. With the definition and the medical-sounding term "ptosis" they can talk with phrases like, "Patient presented with unilateral degree x breast ptosis and breast asymmetry," which sounds like there is a disease, a medical condition that then needs "treatment". They even try to define small breasts as a "disease!" But sagging breasts are no more a "disease" than wrinkles or stretch marks!
What can I do about my sagging breasts?
Short of breast lift surgery, there is not very much you can do about it. Even breast lift surgery results are not permanent because the skin and ligaments will stretch again eventually.
There is some evidence that not wearing bras can help sagging a little bit. If possible, give your breasts "free" time where they can gently bounce while you walk and do various activities. This can help the Cooper's ligaments inside breasts to be in better shape. However, you will need to wear good sports bras during active sports, such as jogging, because when breasts bounce a LOT, those ligaments can overstretch or tear.
Other than that, good nutrition cannot hurt (see above).
Just think, are other people around you really bothered by your breasts, or is it mainly you? Since most women do end up with sagging breasts - more or less - they wouldn't think badly of that. Nobody should, anyway.
Those men who do mind sagging breasts should keep in mind that they're going to have hard time finding a woman whose breasts would never droop (flat-chested maybe). If the man you love is bothered by them, try to educate him. Remember also that if he really loves you, he will not quit loving you because of some physical characteristics. Surely we all would want to have a husband who is not concentrating solely or obsessing over the outward appearance - because that will inevitably change some day as you age.
So even though sagging breasts are not the most aesthetic, they are very common and you're not alone with them! And keep in mind also, your (future/current) baby certainly won't care.
I want to go to the beach but I'm embarrassed of my sagging breasts
When breasts hang down, they can sometimes hang down quite a bit, and understandably can cause embarrassement on the beach or while swimming.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this: buy a swimming suit with bra support. Seach for "control swimwear" or "concealed underwire" swimsuit.