The Myth of Breastfeeding and Sagging Breasts

It is commonly believed that breastfeeding causes sagging breasts, a condition known as ptosis. Many women who seek body contouring after pregnancy and childbirth state that breastfeeding has caused their breasts to lose shape and volume. In fact, some research suggests that concern over changes in breast shape is one of the main reasons some women choose not to breastfeed their infants.

However, new research suggests that the belief in breastfeeding as cause of ptosis is unfounded. A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that the number of past pregnancies had a more significant impact on the shape of the breasts than breastfeeding. The researchers concluded that ptosis after pregnancy was caused not by breastfeeding but by hormone regression and increased strain on breast skin from the engorgement of pregnancy.

The article states:

A history of breastfeeding was not found to be associated with a greater degree of breast ptosis in patients presenting for post pregnancy aesthetic breast surgery. Age and cigarette smoking, both of which are associated with a loss of skin elasticity, were found to be positive predictors for breast ptosis, as were larger pre-pregnancy bra cup size and number of pregnancies. Whereas breast ptosis appears to increase with each additional pregnancy, breastfeeding does not seem to worsen these effects.

Based on their findings, the researchers suggested that women should not avoid breastfeeding as a way to maintain their breast shape and volume: “Expectant mothers should be reassured that breastfeeding does not appear to have an adverse effect upon breast appearance, beyond the effects of pregnancy alone.”

With that being said, since pregnancy itself is linked to ptosis, women who are done breastfeeding may want to consider a breast lift procedure. Breast lift surgery is designed for women whose breasts have lost their elasticity over time. The procedure removes excess skin from the breasts and tightens the remaining skin, helping the patient attain firmer, younger-looking breasts that are proportionate to the rest of her body. The breast lift can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple.

Each year, thousands of women undergo breast lift surgery without experiencing major complications. However, it is important for you to be informed of the benefits as well as the risks posed by this procedure. You should be prepared to discuss possible complications with Dr. Ghaderi. Carefully following his advice and instructions will minimize some of the risks.

If you are interested in reversing the effects of pregnancy through a breast lift procedure, contact our Chicago area office for more information, or to schedule a consultation.