How to Keep Your Breasts in Shape: A Plastic Surgeon's Guide

Dr Zara Kassam PhD

What can you do to keep your breasts from heading south? Dr Zara Kassam PhD spoke to plastic surgeon Douglas McGeorge to find out.

Age is one thing but its especially cruel when gravity starts to work against you as well. Just about the same time that you notice your face starting to slide downwards, other parts of your body are following suit, especially your breasts. And these aren’t the only things conspiring against your breasts. Lifestyle choices like smoking, UV damage, and lack of TLC can also take their toll.

It’s not all bad news though. Douglas McGeorge, one of the UK’s leading plastic surgeons, says there are certain steps we can put into place to keep our breasts looking their best.

1. Maintain a stable weight

“The bottom line is prevention,” says Mr McGeorge. A woman’s breast skin is prone to losing elasticity, so it is crucial to maintain a stable weight. As we gain weight our skin stretches, McGeorge says, and when we lose weight the skin is can be left saggy and stretched out. The result is drooping breasts.

Cycling back and forth between the same 5 to 10 pounds probably won’t cause that much sag, but yo-yo dieting with larger fluctuations in weight definitely will.

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2. Stop smoking

If there weren’t already enough reasons to give up smoking,  now you can no add another one. Smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin, and our breasts are not immune.

“Smoking instigates blood vessels to constrict and prevent oxygen and nutrients from being delivered to our cells. As well as this, smoking can also damage the collagen and elastin in our skin. The breakdown of the skin cells causes the skin, including breast skin, to sag,” says McGeorge.

3. Stay supported

A recent study showed that a startling number of women (76%) are wearing the wrong size bra and out of those 29% had the wrong size altogether.

McGeorge tells us that “Everywoman needs a good bra that adequately supports the weight of her breasts as she moves; whilst evenly distributing the weight to prevent backaches”.

This is because as we move, our breasts move. This inevitably causes strain in the connective tissue that connects our breasts to the chest wall. This straining causes the skin to stretch and the result, over time, is droopy breasts.

Simply wearing a bra that fits well or even a sports bra will help prevent this wear and tear, says McGeorge.

4. Use sun protection

Notwithstanding the numerous warnings about skin cancer, many of us are still failing to apply sunscreen as part of our daily routine.

The sun’s UV rays damage our skin, not only putting the delicate chest area at risk of sunburn and skin cancer, but it can also lead to premature ageing of the skin.

To prevent a wrinkly cleavage McGeorge stresses the importance of using sunscreen, this well help keep the area nice and smooth. And, he reminds us that once the damage is done, there is no way to naturally reverse it. So, as with most things prevention is better than cure.

5. Stay active – but be cautious…

Physical activities contribute to our overall health, however when partaking in physical exercise we must be very careful to keep our breast supported. Our breast tissue sits on top of muscle which is supported by the skin and ligaments. Both of these are relatively weak mechanically, as a result are not able to hold the breast in place firmly.

By simply wearing a well-fitted sport bra when you exercise,  your breast will be held in place, reducing bounce and prevent the stretching of the skin and ligaments.

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Myth busting

6. The ‘breast feeding will may my breast sag’ myth

A common misconception among women to this day is that breastfeeding causes your breasts to drop and sag.

However, it is not the breastfeeding that causes the sagging effect, McGeorge tells us; “Breasts sag as they get bigger and heavier during pregnancy because the ligaments of the breast and stretched. Irrespective of whether you breastfeed or not, over time your breast will still sag. Breast-feeding will not make it worse.”

7. The ‘you need to wear a bra at night’ myth

It’s often said that wearing a bra in bed will help keep your breasts in shape, but McGeorge says the logic is lacking. While you’re lying down gravity isn’t pulling them southwards.

“A bra will hold up your breasts to give you the shape and look you want, but it can’t prevent sagging, which is caused by age and gravity: wearing a bra can help to achieve the immediate desired shape but, once it’s removed, breasts will inevitably return to their natural shape.”

Wearing it in bed, he says, will make little to no difference.

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