How to define sagging breasts

What causes sagging of breasts?

Sagging or drooping of breasts is a natural, inevitable process that happens to all women at some point - except those 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.

Breast involution is a process where the milk-making system inside the breast shrinks because it's not needed anymore. This happens either after weaning, or right after pregnancy if you don't breastfeed at all, or during menopause. When the tissues inside breast shrink, and the skin surrounding it doesn't, the breast can look 'empty' and saggy. Over time, some fat gets deposited back to the breast so it will look somewhat fuller but sagging usually remains.

Worries about sagging breasts is one of the most popular questions sent to this website.  (See Breast development and teenagers worries and Breast gallery page). So if you feel your breasts droop, you are most certainly not alone! Many women find themselves in this situation after childbirth/weaning and after menopause - .  But also many childless women 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.

True, sagging happens to all women at some time or another - except those with very small breasts.  Even if you never get pregnant, your breasts will probably start to droop as you age, and markedly so after menopause.  Overweight women gather some extra fat tissue in their breasts too, which causes them to be heavier and therefore sag earlier than otherwise. This breast drooping can't truly be prevented even though bras of course can conceal it. (However, bras preventing sagging is a myth.) It is only the teenager breast that stays so perky that the nipple is pointing right ahead.

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 things "should" be when looking beautiful/aesthetic.

Some might think that all breasts above are sagging, and that is true if you compare to the teenage breast. But really, in the two pairs in the top row the drooping is very slight - so slight 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 other women.

In the USA people typically see only their own breasts and those of the supermodels - which have been fixed and changed and the photos have been airbrushed, modified, you name it.  All they can perceive of other women's breasts around them are just that they are bra-bound and bra-lifted. So this causes people - both men and women - think that the 'normal' or 'typical' breast is what they see the models have in TV and magazines, and that anything else is sagging/too small/ugly/abnormal. Oh, what a deception!

In my mind sagging of the breast is when the nipple and most of the breast more or less points 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 also 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 they can talk like, "Patient presented with unilateral degree x breast ptosis and breast asymmetry" so it sounds like there is a disease, a medical condition, which 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?

So you have determined your breasts are awfully saggy. Short of surgery, there is unfortunately not much you can do about it. And even surgery results are not permanent since the skin and ligaments will stretch again eventually.

Instead, it is good to ponder if other people around you are really bothered by your breasts, or is it mainly you? See, since most women do end up with sagging breasts - more or less - and so they wouldn't think badly of that. Nobody should, anyway.

If men do, that is too bad, because they're going to have hard time finding a woman whose breasts would never droop (flat-chested maybe). If the man you love does, you can try educate him. Remember also that if he really loves you, he will not quit loving you because of some physical characteristics. If you're wishing to find a husband, you'd want one 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!  They are not among the most important aspects of life, fortunately. Remember your (future/current) baby won't care as long as he/she gets milk from your breasts. That's what counts.

Read also

Do bras prevent breasts from sagging?

A Brief History of Sagging (and we don’t mean pants) - Humorous article of the history of one woman's breasts

Am I doomed to have sagging breasts for the rest of my life?

Pautas Saludables Para Sus Mamas - Encuesta Fotografica - Breast Pictures of age 40
A spanish site dedicated to healthy breasts, especially addressing the bra issue. The site also has a different breast picture page for each age from 18-50, submitted by visitors. Eeach page opens with a poll about how long you wear bras, and when you put your mouse over the pictures, it tells you that woman's bra wearing habits. Note: The photos on those pages are submitted by visitors, so are not depicting what percentage of women would have what kind of breasts. But you'll see many sagging breasts here.

Here are the poll options translated into English:
¿Cuándo usted porta corpiño? When do you wear a bra?
1.- Siempre, incluso cuando duermo
2.- Sólo de día, todos los días
3.- Sólo cuando salgo de mi hogar/a mi trabajo
4.- Pocas veces, según la ocasión
5.- Sólo cuando quiero estar sexy
6.- Nunca, salvo casos puntuales
Always, even when sleeping
Only during the day, every day
Only when I go out from home/to work
Rarely, depending on situation
Only when I want to feel sexy
Never, except rare occasions

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Disclaimer: Information here is not medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor to replace the advice you could get from a health professional. If you are in doubt, please see a doctor (or several). So if you're in doubt, and especially if you have some other symptoms, please see a doctor.