Saggy breasts — whether from breastfeeding or gravity — is a top concern among women. There seems to be a new exercise or supplement announced all the time claiming to restore perky breasts, but we wanted to know for real: Is it possible to lift breasts without surgery?
We talked to experts on RealSelf to debunk common myths about treating saggy breasts. And what did they tell us? A breast lift is the only tried-and-true method for beating the sag. Here are the five most common myths about saggy breasts — and the breakdown of the only surgery that really works.
Myth No. 1: Bench presses and push-ups will prevent drooping.
Unfortunately, exercise working your pecs won’t give you a breast lift. Breasts sag due to lost volume and retained breast skin, and working your muscles won’t fix that, though you will probably get more awesome arms, so there’s that for a win.
Our expert: “Most of my patients want to know what they can do to tighten loose breasts and abdominal skin after childbearing,” said Dr. Adam Tattelbaum, a Washington, D.C., plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. “The short and unfortunate answer is not much.”
“After childbearing, the skin of the breast, as well as the abdomen, lose their elasticity,” he continues. “Diet and exercise, unfortunately, cannot regain that lost skin tension. The paradox of exercising, which I strongly encourage, is that it will lead to less body fat, which will ultimately further loosen the skin of the breast as well as the abdomen. So paradoxically, patients who do everything right often wind up getting even looser.”
Myth No. 2: Breasts sag because of too much bouncing around.
The supporting ligaments and skin stretch out over time, no matter how much you’re killing your workout.
Our expert: “Current research highlights the following as risk factors for sagging: greater age, history of significant weight loss (more than 50 pounds), higher BMI, large bra cup size, pregnancy and smoking,” says Dr. Martin Jugenburg, a Toronto plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. “As women age, the Cooper’s ligaments — the connective tissue that helps breasts keep their shape — stretches out.”
“Aging also causes breasts to transform into having more fat rather than breast tissue, making them less perky and appear deflated,” he continues. “Although you cannot control the natural aging and sagging effects or a genetic link, factors such as weight fluctuation, BMI and smoking are in your control.”
Myth No. 3: Breast size doesn’t change.
Breast size fluctuates with life changes, especially pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormonal and weight changes.
Our expert: “After breastfeeding, the fat and ligaments of the breasts may change, therefore, your breasts may not go back to their previous size or shape,” says Dr. Pedro M. Soler, Jr., a Tampa, Florida, plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. “Some women will remain larger and others will become smaller. Whether you will become ptotic [droop] or remain full will be more of a direct result of your genetic predisposition, weight gain or loss during pregnancy and the age at which you breastfeed.”
Myth No. 4: You can skip the lift if you get implants.
It’s a common misconception that breast implants will give you the lift you want. Typically, that isn’t the case.
Our expert: “Some patients who are interested in having a breast augmentation may receive the suggestion of pairing the surgery with a breast lift,” says Dr. Pat Pazmino, a Miami plastic surgeon, in a RealSelf Q&A. “This is because you may have sagging breasts that will not be completely filled by the implant. Rather than just having an implant, the skin can be retracted around the new implant, which will create a much more attractive rest mound with a small breast lift.”
Myth No. 5: Creams and supplements will increase perkiness.
Regardless of what you’ve heard, there’s no OTC product or natural solution for saggy breasts.
Our expert: “Unfortunately, there is no reliable and feasible way of achieving a natural breast lift without surgical intervention,” says Dr. Ellis Choy, a Sydney plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. “Your breasts may appear higher and lifted with certain styles of bras, but to have a true, natural breast-lift effect with optimization of shape, size and symmetry, some form of a surgical breast-lift procedure will be required.”
What goes into a breast lift
If you’re looking to increase perkiness, a breast lift is the way to go. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a popular procedure on RealSelf with a 95 percent Worth It rating. There are two primary types of breast-lift techniques.
“The first technique is commonly known as a nipple areolar complex lift, or scarless breast lift,” said Dr. Kris M. Reddy, a West Palm Beach, Florida, plastic surgeon. “This technique provides for a significant lift of the nipple areolar position, and the scar is around the areolar. The second technique, which is commonly known as ‘the vertical lift’ [or lollipop lift], includes a vertical scar from the new position of the nipple to the crease.”
Both methods require general anesthesia and the surgery can take two to four hours. The initial recovery will be about a week with full results taking several months.
One reviewer on RealSelf shared her reasoning for getting a breast lift: “Like most women getting a breast lift here, I, too, have suffered most of my life with these awkward cow udders. I didn’t really have breasts until I was 14, and I wished so hard that they would develop, especially because boys would make fun of me. Eventually, they did develop. My parents always said be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, and with a vengeance. So I got udders with stretch marks.”
She was thrilled with her results: “I bought some tops for summer and tried them without a bra. Never thought I’d see the day when I could do that — they’re so lifted!”
According to prices on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $7,975 on a breast lift.
Ready to contact an expert? Find a doctor near you today.