What to Know About Sagging Breasts

Medically Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on May 20, 2023
4 min read

Breast ptosis, or sagging of the breasts, is a very common condition. The breasts, like other parts of your body, will change over time. Your breasts might seem to sit lower on the chest, the nipple may point downwards, and the top of the breast may not be as full as it was.

The severity of breast ptosis is measured by the position of the nippled in relation to the fold of the breast. A nipple that sits above the line of the fold is considered normal. If your nipple is even with the fold, it’s first-degree ptosis. Second-degree ptosis is when the nipple is below the fold, and third-degree ptosis is when the nipple is pointing downward.

The skin of the breasts will become less tight with age and less able to hold up the weight of the breast tissue underneath. Gravity can pull the entire breast downward, as well. Breasts of all sizes can develop ptosis, but larger breasts may be more likely to than smaller breasts.

The breast tissue itself will go up and down in size and weight over time. Hormone changes, pregnancy, weight gain, and weight loss can all affect the internal structures of your breasts. Menopause can affect the fullness of breasts and reduce their volume.

Many people are concerned that breastfeeding a baby will lead to sagging. The research doesn’t support those fears. Breastfeeding and the pressure a baby puts on breasts while nursing isn’t a significant cause of sagging. Researchers have found that the breast size changes that happen during pregnancy are a more substantial factor in sagging breasts.

If you are unhappy with the way your breasts look, you can try several different things to improve their appearance, without surgery.

Professional bra fitting. A bra can’t change your breasts, but it can support and lift them. A well-fitted bra gives you the look you want under clothing. Many people don’t know their proper bra size, which can change over time. Some clothing stores have staff who can measure you and determine the correct size bra for your breasts. You may also want to find a supportive bra to wear during exercise.

Upper body workouts. Your breast tissue is mostly fat and the system of mammary ducts. Exercise won’t increase or decrease the amount of breast tissue you have. There are muscles underneath your breasts. Working out those muscles, along with your shoulders and upper arms, can make them firmer and more defined. It can help make your breasts sit slightly higher on your chest wall.

Breast lift.Breast lift surgery is very effective for reversing sagging. Your doctor can remove excess skin to bring the sagging breast up. You may also want to have a breast implant inserted to make the whole breast look fuller.

With a bit of attention, you can slow some of the signs of aging in your breasts. Lifestyle choices affect your whole body. Making lifestyle choices that maintain a youthful look to other aspects of your appearance can also help your breasts.

Nutrition. There is no magic diet that will prevent skin from aging or undo the effects of gravity. But eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants is good for the skin all over your body. Fruits and vegetables provide a good source of antioxidants. Drinking plenty of fluids can keep you hydrated, which may also make your skin look better.

Avoid smoking. Tobacco use contributes to sagging skin. It can break down collagen and result in skin that looks less full. Staying away from tobacco will improve your overall health, reduce your risk of some cancers, and potentially prevent the breakdown of the skin around your breasts.

Use sunscreen. Sun exposure is a trigger for skin damage. Even if your breasts are never exposed to the sun, the skin around them can suffer sun damage. The surrounding skin helps hold the weight of your breasts, so protecting it with sunscreen will help to protect the whole area.

Keep a consistent weight. Gaining and losing weight can stretch your skin past its ability to snap back. Avoiding big changes in your weight may help prevent some stretched skin around your breasts.

Your breasts will change over time, just as the rest of your body will change with age. You can decrease the effects of aging by making healthy lifestyle choices, but that may not prevent sagging. If you want to make permanent changes to your breasts, talk to your doctor about surgery to lift sagging breasts.