I must, I must preserve my bust.
August 24, 2006 3:28 PM   Subscribe

How does one prevent boob saggage?

It's probably inevitable, time marching on etc. etc., but could anything prevent such a thing? Stop exercising? Sleep in a brassiere? Buy those weird pointy cone bras? Tie the damn things down flat? Sleep on one's back? Some variation on those "Are you there God, it's me Margaret" exercises?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
Don't stop exercising! Do weight lifting exercises that focus on firming up the muscles under your boobs. I'm sure someone else will provide links, I'm trying to get some work done.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:36 PM on August 24, 2006

Yeah, don't stop exercising -- just make sure you're wearing a very supportive sports bra. Chest presses are good for keeping the muscles in that area firm.

Wearing a bra all the time helps too, even with skimpy tops. The only time I go braless is when I sleep, but I know some bustier women who wear a bra to bed as well (soft cups, I presume, rather than underwire).
posted by scody at 3:39 PM on August 24, 2006

Speaking as a 34AA girl, I can't give you much personal advice, but I do know that bras have nothing to do with preventing National Geographic boobs. So says this thread, as the question was asked previously.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:39 PM on August 24, 2006 [3 favorites]

Stop exercising?

Certainly not. Breasts are largely composed of tissue, which you cannot excercise, but you can strengthen the pectorals, which support the breasts, and that will help prevent sag. Moreover exercise is necessary for your health and your figure in general and the maintenance of a healthy weight, which will definitly help prevent weight loss and gain on your boobs, which is a big cause of sag.

Sleep in a brassiere?

There was an earlier thread on this and I believe it was concluded that it wasn't a good idea.

Buy those weird pointy cone bras?

Get yourself fitted for a bra every five years, or after any significant weight loss or gain. Wearing the proper size bra and appropriate level of support is the single best thing you can do for your breasts' appearance. Also providing them with proper support will prevent sag.

Tie the damn things down flat?

Definitely not. You'll injure those delicate tissues. Women in the 20s wore flatteners to achieve the then ideal boyish silhouette, and regretted it later.

Some variation on those "Are you there God, it's me Margaret" exercises?

See my advice re: developing your pecs.

You don't mention breast cancer. Make sure you live a healthy life (proper diet and exercise, non-smoking, etc.) so as to decrease the possibility of getting it. A mammogram will be much worse for your breasts than sag.
posted by orange swan at 3:46 PM on August 24, 2006

Sorry, that should have read that "having a breast or two removed" will be much worse for your breasts than sag
posted by orange swan at 3:48 PM on August 24, 2006

If you live long enough (and particularly if you bear children), there's no escaping furniture disease.

(When your chest falls into your drawers.)

Seriously, from being in the women's locker room at the gym it is my observation that childless women seem to have held up better over the years. I wouldn't have given up my children for perkier boobies, but there is such an operation as a boob lift. (Not that I would do that but it is available for those that would.)
posted by konolia at 5:01 PM on August 24, 2006

Anecdotally and using my friends and self as data points in a highly unscientific survey, your best bets to stay tits up are to:

a) be naturally small breasted. Gravity sucks.
b) avoid child bearing. Lo, the small breasted shall suddenly be ample, the already ample will overflowth.
c) if you do bear children, avoid breastfeeding*
d) avoid losing or gaining lots of weight. That which stretches does not snap back.

*note: I breastfeed *for-freaking-ever* and highly recommend it. but it does totally beat up your boobs.
posted by jamaro at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2006

36D here.

- don't have kids [breastfeeding induces sag in larger breasted women often though not always]
- stay on the pill [fuller breasts]
- watch the bouncy-bouncy and wear a bra when you'll be doing anything that is going to flop 'em around. From what I heard Charo say once, it's the gradual lessening of firmness of the tissue on top of the breasts as well as the general stretching of skin and that old devil gravity that really does you in. Charo should know, but I have no idea if she's right.
- strengthen pecs - I've been swimming a lot and while my breasts aren't less saggy than their normal amount, they look better generally, esp when I'm wearing a bra thanks to good pecs
- wear a bra for looks anyhow, sag is natural but looking saggy doesn't have to be.

My Mom is getting some annoying invasive crap done because of lumpy breasts and she said the doc said to her yesterday [on the topic of her maybe needing radiation treatments] that one of the side effects of radiation is that your breasts firm up and they're not sure why. This cracked her up.
posted by jessamyn at 5:15 PM on August 24, 2006

I think women who've never been pregnant or breastfed get to keep their girls perky a little longer, but I think gravity gets us all in the end.

Aside from having top-notch perky-tit genes or dying young, we all say goodbye at some point.
posted by padraigin at 6:04 PM on August 24, 2006

Aside from having top-notch perky-tit genes or dying young, we all say goodbye at some point.

Don't forget surgery!
posted by ch1x0r at 6:11 PM on August 24, 2006

After the hullaballoo in that "should I tell my family member to pluck her hairs" question the other day, I was not about to mention surgical breast enhancement and have my feminism called into question :)
posted by padraigin at 6:14 PM on August 24, 2006

There really isn't anything, as Natalie Angier explains in Woman, because even though you have pectoral muscles the boobs themselves are just fat, so. Bras or no bras have little to do with it. That said, in her autobiography Mae West swore by doing a cold rinse with water at night before bedtime, patting the breasts gently, and rubbing cream/shea butter type stuff on them. Ha, YMMV though. Just puttin' it out there...
posted by ifjuly at 6:40 PM on August 24, 2006

Get yourself fitted for a bra every five years

I would recommend getting fitted at least once a year. Even insignificant weight changes will alter a bra size. My mother told me just this past weekend, "I've wore the same style and size since your sister was born, and I'm not going to start changing now!" That was 22 years ago, and I just shook my head. I can guarantee she shouldn't be wearing the same size.
posted by rhapsodie at 7:19 PM on August 24, 2006

exercise your pecs, don't have kids (!), and don't go braless (except, of course, when you're in the shower/in bed/etc). an underwire bra is a wonderful thing.
posted by sdn at 8:34 PM on August 24, 2006

Gah. Wouldn't touch a underwire bra again for ~any~ amount of money. Get really good ~support~ bras. They most likely won't be pretty little wisps of fabric, but they will give your breasts the support they need.

I realize that it was stated up thread that it was "concluded it wasn't a good idea", but anecdotally, my mom (36C-D depending on her weight), wore a nice support bra to bed every single night, and at 75 you still couldn't tell when she wasn't wearing a bra. After that age got to her, and she lost a cup size or so, but she still wears it to bed, and it's still pretty unnoticeable unless you know what she looked like 10 years ago.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 9:00 PM on August 24, 2006

My midwives told me it's not breastfeeding that brings on the sag, but pregnancy itself, because of the weight gain and the pregnancy hormones maturing your breast tissue in prep for lactation. I got stretch marks on my breasts when I wasn't even showing yet with my first pregnancy - I gained a cup size (C to D) before the first trimester was over. YMMV due to your superior sagless genetics, lack of large weight gain, etc.
posted by Melinika at 11:02 PM on August 24, 2006

I once read that French women swear by splashing their breasts with icy cold water, morning and night, as this causes the skin to tauten and keeps them firm.
posted by essexjan at 12:36 AM on August 25, 2006

I don't believe breastfeeding babies makes your breasts sag. It didn't mine. (Two babies, three years each, breasts the size of footballs. Always wore a bra.) And Le Leche League doesn't believe so either, last time I checked.

I wear a bra 24 hours a day. Always have.
posted by cda at 1:03 AM on August 25, 2006

If bras really don't help, I just wonder why so many women I met in West Africa - who go around topless much of the time - tended to have incredibly saggy breasts after childbirth (which was often 14-18 for the first time). They looked like flaps of skin hanging down - practically no plumpness or lift. (And they generally had fabulous breasts as teenagers.) I see naked women occasionally in the gym locker room in the US, and I generally see perky breasts, so either the women in my gym don't have kids (not true), or bras do help, or there's some other factor at play. Those African women were quite fit, so I don't think it would be the muscle issue. Some of them had several pregnancies, so that would presumably increase the saggage. But few had weight gain/loss, which would decrease the saggage. My conclusion after a couple years there was that bras do actually help with saggage. Maybe it's a myth, but it makes sense to me.
posted by Amizu at 11:13 AM on August 25, 2006

In my experience, I have found that it is mostly a matter of genetics. I am in my 40's, with two kids (both breastfed) and mine (36C) still look great. I wear a bra sometimes (like to work and stuff) , but would never wear one to bed. My best friend (in her late forties) has beautiful breasts still and never wears a bra, in fact is vehemently opposed to them. OTOH, another friend is younger, smaller breasted, childless and has a significant amount of sag. My guess is that it has a lot to do with how wide the base of the breast is.

Oh, and the cold water thing was also recommended to me by none other than Elke Sommer, who had lovely breasts at the time (she was fifty when I met her). It is apparently quite commonly practiced in some European countries and is also recommended for tightening facial skin. I do use this method on my face, and have very few wrinkles despite my non use of moisturizers, creams, etc and my various personal vices.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2006

38DD here...while pregnant I went up to a 42 DDD. I wore bras during the day, sports bras at night. The girls are just the slightest bit worse for wear now. I think that wearing a supportive bra most of the time, really does make a difference.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2006

No one has mentioned the importance of the back muscles that keep the scapula pulled down and firmly on the rib cage, thus lifting the front rib cage and pecs. Nothing sags worse than bad posture. I've found a good yoga teacher is a great help - specially to understand how the back is connected to the front.

Your other secret - really good bras. Bras are now wonders of physics and architecture and design and aesthetics. They are more important than what you put on top. Spend your money on the foundation, the rest will work out.
posted by trii at 8:55 PM on August 25, 2006

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