Causes of sagging breasts and what can be done about it

09 December 2022

Woman in a shawl arms wrapped around chest. Image by Rondell Melling from PixabayBy plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

Sadly, nobody has a superpower that allows them to escape the natural aging process, so the majority of women will experience some degree of breast sagging as they get older. The main force that contributes to bringing something down is gravity, and the same is true for breasts, especially for those women with particularly large breasts.

All skin tissue contains a protein known as elastin, and this protein is what keeps the skin supple and elastic. Anything the reduces elastin increases the likelihood of the breasts sagging along with other body parts.

The most common causes of a reduction in elastin

We’ve established that a reduction in the amount of elastin in the skin is the the root cause of why breasts sag (along with the gravitational force), but what causes elastin in the skin to reduce in the first place?

There are a few different culprits that may contribute to a reduction in skin elastin, with some of the most common being:

  • The natural aging process
  • Tobacco
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Weight gain (or extensive yo-yo’ing between weight gain and weight loss)
  • Poor nutrition
  • Air pollution

All of these things contribute to the reduction of elastin which, in turn, will hasten the effects of gravity on breasts as the elastin gradually breaks down.

Read: Cosmetic surgery to combat aging

Can pregnancy cause breasts to sag?

Pregnancy typically leads to a noticeable increase in breast size for many women which adds weight and puts strain on the muscles and ligaments. This can also lead to breasts sagging, especially for women who go through multiple pregnancies.

What about breast feeding?

One myth is that breastfeeding alone is a cause of sagging breasts, but this is not the case. It is the increase in breast size that takes place during pregnancy that is the cause of the sagging, so women should aim to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight if they want to reduce the strain they’re experiencing on the ligaments.

What can you do to prevent sagging breasts?

It’s not possible to naturally eliminate all causes of sagging breasts over the long term, but a few things can be done to at least minimise and slow down the progress.

Stretched ligaments that lose elasticity can be a problem, so women can wear a supportive bra, especially while exercising, to reduce the stress that is placed on supportive muscles.

Women can also do their best to maintain a healthy weight and avoid continual dramatic weight gain and weight loss.

If you’re a smoker, giving up all forms of tobacco will also greatly help in preventing the breakdown of elastin in the skin.

With excessive sun exposure also being a common cause of reduced elastin, women can pay close attention to the amount of time they spend in direct sunlight (including sun beds!) and ensure that when they are in the sun, they apply the correct protective sunscreen.

Cosmetic surgery for sagging breasts

For those women who have sagging breasts and have a desire to improve their appearance and self-confidence, you’ll be pleased to hear there are cosmetic surgery options that can address the problem to great effect. Breast reduction surgery can also lead to significant health improvements, ranging from improved back health to a reduction in skin rashes that care caused due to skin friction from the sagging breasts.

Breast lift surgery can be performed by a skilled cosmetic surgeon to tighten the slacking muscles and ligaments and reposition the areola and nipple in a more aesthetically pleasing position on the breasts.

In some cases, a cosmetic surgeon may recommend combining a breast lift with breast augmentation surgery to achieve the very best results, but this is something you will have to discuss with your cosmetic surgeon in great detail - every single woman and case is unique, so it will all come down to what is best for you personally.

Read: A guide to breast reduction surgery

Do you suffer from sagging breasts? If so, why not book yourself in for a consultation with me here at Harley Street Aesthetics in the heart of London so that we can discuss the options available to you in more detail and find a way forward? You can make your booking by calling 0845 519 72732, e-mailing or cy completing our online contact form.


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