Saggy Breasts and Solutions for Breast Ptosis: Do I Need a Breast Lift?
Breasts are an important part of your physique and they determine the aesthetics of your upper body. Breasts undergo a lot of changes throughout your life, and the shape, firmness, and appearance of them may change along with time.
One of the most common changes that occur is sagging or drooping of the breast. Deflated, droopy or saggy breasts may happen with age or may start early on in life, and it may happen due to various reasons. Either way, the common factor here is that it is a completely natural procedure. And the best part is, a skilled plastic surgeon can reduce this sagging of the breast and give them a perkier and firm appearance, using a breast lift procedure, a breast reduction or breast implant placement procedure.
Why Do Breasts Sag?
Sagging of the breast, also known as breast ptosis, is a normal body procedure that may occur as a result of any one of the many possible reasons. Gravity is not your friend when it comes to breast ptosis. Gravity pulls the breast downward and since the breast tissue is composed of connective tissue, glands, and no muscles, it easily droops and begins to sag. The effects of gravity may be visible at any time since the development of your breasts.
When you get pregnant, the milk-producing glands in your breast increase in size, preparing for childbirth and breastfeeding process. This is why breast ptosis is often seen after pregnancy, especially after you are done breastfeeding your child. Once the milk-producing glands are no longer needed, that is you are not breastfeeding anymore, they begin to reduce in size and eventually shrink. This results in the sagging of the breast tissue and is commonly known as the breast involution. It is one of the most common reasons for the sagging of the breast.
A similar process may occur during menopause and breasts often begin to sag naturally during that period of a woman’s life. Aging is another important factor that can cause breasts to sag. As mentioned before, the breasts lack muscles and are composed of ligaments holding up the tissues. So when the skin loses its elasticity, hence, becoming lax and the tissues decrease in size, due to aging processes, the breasts deflate and begin to hang downward. This results in a sagging appearance or deflated appearance of the breast.
Lifestyle choices like smoking can also affect the shape and tautness of your breasts. Smoking thins the skin and the dermis, resulting in reduced elasticity and eventual sagging of your breasts. Another daily lifestyle choice that can affect your breasts is the type of bra you wear. If you do not wear a proper bra that can completely support and hold your breasts, then there is a higher chance of your breasts eventually sagging and drooping. The sagging of the breast can be worsened by performing physical exercises while wearing a non-supportive bra.
Another common reason for sagging of the breast is the size of the breast. Larger breasts are more common to droop due to the effects of gravity, which are facilitated by the increased weight of the breast. While that is why large breasts droop, small breasts can also become deflated or sag despite weighing less. This is because the small breasts do not have enough tissues and associated structures holding them up, resulting in a deflated look.
Regardless of the reason, sagging of the breasts can have several consequences.
Effects of Saggy and Droopy Breasts
Saggy and droopy breasts can significantly impair your appearance and limit your clothing options. You may feel uncomfortable wearing tight clothes that flaunt your physique. The sagging of your breasts can affect your self-confidence and distort your self-image. Sagging of the breasts may be a normal process that occurs naturally but the effects of this process are far from normal.
Apart from physically altering your appearance, sagging of the breast can prove to be quite a mental burden too. The way your breasts appear and your self-image, if distorted can result in poor mental health and may result in pathological issues requiring treatment. Not just that, sagging breasts increase your chances of skin rashes, irritation, and infections. This is because the sagging breast is in contact with the skin covering the rib cage and this allows for sweat to accumulate and microorganisms to grow in the crevice.
Classification of Saggy Breasts
The appearance of the breast is a unique feature that differs from woman to woman. Similarly, the level or the extent to which breasts sags are also different, depending on the size of the breasts and other factors that are actually responsible for the sagging.
Breast Ptosis or sagging of the breast can be classified into three types:
Mild Breast Ptosis
At this stage, there is mild sagging of the breast and there may be shape distortion of the breast. Although mild, the malformation can affect the overall appearance of the upper body. But you don’t have to worry as it can be easily treated.
Moderate Breast Ptosis
This stage refers to a moderate level of droopiness of the breast that may result in nipple displacement. In Grade 2 Breast Ptosis, the nipple will no longer be in the middle of the breast although technically, it is in the middle. But the breast now hands downward, stretching the skin and that makes the nipple go lower too.
The displacement of the nipple from its usual position and the sagging of the breast causes the overall shape of the breast to be significantly distorted. This type of sagging and drooping usually occurs when you don’t wear the right size and a supportive bra while performing physical activities.
Severe Breast Ptosis
When there is a significant level of sagging and drooping of the breast, the breast ptosis is classified as Grade 3. There is a significant malformation of the shape of the breast, and it can often seem tubular and low-hanging. The breast tissue, at this stage, becomes very lax and the skin is usually thin too.
The nipple also displaces with this level of sagginess and not just that, it also points downward due to extreme sagging. The breasts barely appear as circular and firm but rather as malformed, deflated sacks. Your breasts may reach this level of sagging if you have undergone a massive breast size change in a relatively small amount of time. For example, if you gained or lost massive amounts of weight or if you have had multiple pregnancies, eventually your breasts are going to hang downwards resulting in significant breast ptosis.
The sagging of the breasts may also be classified as pseudoptosis where there isn’t actually sagging of the breast due to the reasons mentioned above but the breasts seem ptotic due to low collagen strength. Your physician will classify your breasts into different levels depending on the appearance of your breast and the location of the nipple and the areola. Your physician may also use a grading scale ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 5, to clinically assess your breasts and recommend treatment options accordingly.
You can also do a ‘Hand’s Up Test’ by yourself or in your physician’s office to find out if you really have droopy and saggy breasts or not. For this test, you will need to raise your hands above your head and see if the breasts appear to move up as well or not. This may be the first step towards analyzing the level of droopiness of your breast and can often help choose the treatment of choice.
What can I do to fix the sagginess of my breast?
Sagging of the breast is an unfortunate process that has many negative side-effects ranging from rashes to impaired mental health. This is why it is very necessary to get rid of the sagginess and have perky breasts again. It’s not just for the aesthetics.
You can opt for any of the following methods depending on the extent of breast ptosis. But it is important for you to realize your expectations and goals before undergoing a surgical treatment to get rid of your saggy and droopy breasts. Not just that, you should undergo any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure for yourself and not for anyone else.
Invest in a good, supportive bra
A good supportive bra can be very helpful in treating your breast ptosis, especially if you are breastfeeding or have naturally large breasts that have resulted in your breasts become droopy and saggy. In general, a good bra that fits your properly is the easiest way to maintain the shape of your breasts and make them look firm and perky.
A good bra can support your breasts while you perform physical activities and it ensures that no sagging of the breast occurs. It only works on mildly ptotic breasts and is generally more useful in preventing breast ptosis from occurring and prevent the progression of breast ptosis.
Breast Implant Placement or Breast Augmentation Surgery
A breast implant procedure, more commonly known as a boob job, helps augment your breast by placing an implant in the breast cavity. Your surgeon may also reposition the nipple during this procedure to correct the nipple displacement that may be present.
The procedure is the perfect treatment of choice for your saggy breasts if you have excess skin on the breast but the breast tissue has shrunk or reduced in size. This can happen after breastfeeding or losing a significant amount of weight.
However, this procedure is not always available to you just because you have saggy or deflated breasts. There are certain criteria to be met before you can be considered for the procedure and there are certain criteria that can make you ineligible for this procedure.
To assess the criteria that disqualify you from getting this procedure, three physical examination tests may be performed by your surgeon:
Hands Up Test for Breast Ptosis
This test aims to analyse the level of your breast droopiness and evaluate if you can have a breast implant placed to solve the issue of breast ptosis. If you raise your hands and your breasts still sag, then you are not eligible for a breast implant procedure. This is because of the presence of excess skin and tissue present in your breast and adding an implant may make your breasts sag more.
Finger or Pencil Test for Breast Ptosis
For this test, a pencil may be placed between the bottom edge of your breast and your ribcage. If the pencil falls, you have passed the test and can get the procedure done. If it stays, then there is severe sagging that cannot be treated by breast augmentation procedure. You will need to evaluate other options of treatment then.
Similarly, if two fingers can be placed behind your breast crease, then you cannot undergo a breast implant placement procedure as the probability of it resulting in even more sagging is high.
This test focuses on the placement of your nipple and if your nipple falls below the Inframammary crease (IMC), which is the lower edge or boundary of the breast, then you are not eligible for the breast augmentation procedure.
A breast implant procedure may also be accompanied by a breast lift procedure as a workaround to the disqualification criteria. If the breasts have become extremely ptotic and there is a loss of breast tissue, a breast augmentation procedure along with a breast lift may be the treatment of choice.
Breast Lift Surgery
Breast lift is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove excess skin, tissue, and fat from your breasts and enhance the natural contours and the shape of the breast. This procedure will reposition your breasts and your nipples, and make them look perky and youthful. No longer will you need to worry about the appearance of your breasts in certain clothes. With higher and contoured breasts, you can wear whatever you like.
You should talk to your doctor before making a decision about the surgical treatments so you are aware of all available options and the potentials risks each option carries. Book a consultation now and find out before your breasts sag anymore.
Saggy Breasts Frequently Asked Questions
Can saggy breasts become firm again?
Without the help of surgery, it’s extremely difficult to revive sagging breasts. This is because the breast is not made up of muscle so exercise cannot be used as a remedy. However, there are exercises you can do to improve the strength of your chest muscles, which can help to improve the overall appearance of your chest. Chest exercises also positively affect your posture which can result in your breasts appearing less droopy.
How does posture affect breast sagging?
If you have good posture – you stand straight with your shoulders back – your breasts won’t feel strained. However, if you lean forward or hunch over, your breast ligaments undergo added pressure which aids gravity in pulling your breasts downwards.
At what age do breasts begin to sag?
Breasts can sag at any age once they are developed. Usually, breasts will be fully developed at the age of 17 although it can take longer for some women. Various factors impact the age when breasts begin to sag including the size of your breasts, genetics, weight loss, weight gain and pregnancy. For women with larger breasts, the size and weight of the breasts pull the breast ligaments downwards which can result in breasts sagging earlier in life. Most commonly, a woman will experience the most breast sagging once hitting menopause. This is because hormone changes related to menopause affects the volume and structure of the breast tissue resulting in deflated looking breasts.
Does Breast Reduction surgery lift the breasts?
Yes, all breast reduction surgeries include a breast lift.
Will Medicare cover my breast lift surgery?
Medicare has very strict criteria you need to meet to qualify for a rebate. Breast lift surgery must be performed out of medical necessity rather than for cosmetic reasons. Medical reasons for requiring a breast lift procedure include:
- Your breasts sag significantly and at least two-thirds of the breast (including your nipples) lie below the lowermost crease of your breast.
- Your sagging breasts result in chronic skin infection and rashes.
- You have breast and weight-related health conditions that impact your health and quality of life.
To find out more about the Medicare criteria, read our blog Will Medicare Fund My Breast Lift?