MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Does wearing a bra stop breasts sagging in later life?

Date: Tue Mar 30 14:44:25 1999
Posted By: Frederick Sweet, Ph.D. Ob-Gyn, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis MO
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 918152402.An

Sagging breasts (medical term is PTOSIS) is caused by gravity, the expansion / contraction with pregnancy, stretching of the suspensory tissues and aging skin. As the glands atrophy after hormones have changed, the breast also tend to flatten.

Dr. Michael Bermant, MD, a plastic surgeon in Chester, Virginia surgically corrects ptosis. He recently wrote:

"... Unless you sleep standing up, a support bra should not really help long term to prevent further sagging at night. Taking care of yourself, using a support bra during the day and vigorous activities limit this problem to a certain degree. We do not have enough information if the weightless conditions of space may be of benefit or if other factors become issues. Time will tell, but only few are getting only limited exposure to this option so far."

Dr. Bermant goes on to write, " ... Most breast ptosis (droopy breasts) is from loose skin / suspensory ligamentous tissue. The only non surgical methods I have read about were in science fiction novels. External support and less gravity may help lessen the problem getting worse. Nothing that I know of improves the situation without surgery. ..."

By the way, aside from sharing his expertise online, Dr. Bermant drums up business for plastic surgery at his homepage. Presumably, the information above is reliable since Dr. Bermant is listed as, "Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery."

Based on the above information, it seems that women with larger breasts tend to develop a sag. Those with smaller breasts will most likely not have this problem in later life ... bra or no bra. Therefore, Eleanor, this time you seem to be right and your friends who insist you'll "end up like those women in Africa (from tribes etc) ie very saggy breasts," are wrong. By the way, "those women in Africa" are no different from those in Essex when it comes to breasts.

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