Your breasts change as you get older: they change shape, lose firmness and can even change size. Many women don’t realize that these changes can begin around age 20 and continue throughout child-bearing years. Pregnancy, weight changes and other factors can hasten what the natural aging process is already doing. One way to combat breast changes with age is with breast augmentation, but understanding exactly what is happening to your body and what your options are is always important before making any decisions.

How are age and breasts connected?

Changes in your breasts are almost always directly connected to your age. Every woman’s body is unique, and that means that the changes you experience as your body ages and evolves will also be unique to you. As with any change in your body, definitely let your doctor know about changes to the breasts during routine well checks, and if you are ever concerned or worried about a change, don’t hesitate to reach out for a checkup with your OB/GYN or family physician. Many times, the changes are normal and harmless, but it certainly never hurts to be sure.

Some expected breast changes with age that are common to many women include:

  • Age 20 – 30: breasts get larger or smaller as weight gain/loss, late development or pregnancy occurs.
  • Age 30 – 40: breasts begin to sag, drop or droop. You may experience the development of lumps or lumpy areas in the breasts. (Always get lumps checked, but know that some of them are natural components of the aging process.)
  • Age 40 – 50: changes in skin tone or elasticity become more noticeable. The nipples may begin to change in shape, size or color.

Why do breasts change with age?

Breasts change as you age because your body is changing and going through various stages and events. Here’s a look at six common reasons for breast changes:

Softening of breast firmness as you age and enter menopause

For most women, breasts are at their firmest during their 20s and 30s. During this time, the tissue within the breasts is still dense, and that helps keep them upright and shapely. From around age 40, women start to see significant changes in the shape, size and firmness of their breasts. Glandular tissue, which was previously present to support potential breastfeeding, makes way for more fatty tissue, leading to overall softening of the area. This reducing of breast density is called ptosis, and it can cause sagging or drooping as you get older, even if you have smaller breasts. Find out if there are any risks when breastfeeding after breast implants.

As you age, your body also produces less estrogen, which also leads to softening of the breast tissues and sagging skin. This can also cause the area around your nipples (the areolas) to shrink, and in some cases, nipples might turn inward or outward.

Gaining and losing weight

Women of all ages can experience breast shape, size and composition change because they gain or lose weight. Your body naturally stores fat in your breasts, so you will eventually gain weight in your breasts if you’re gaining it elsewhere. Likewise, if you’re losing weight, eventually it will come from your breasts too.

After significant weight loss, even young women can experience slightly saggy breasts or loose skin around the chest area. Sometimes your body and skin catches up and your breasts will firm — this is more possible at younger ages when skin still has a lot of elasticity and hormones are still working to keep breasts firm. At older ages, the changes in breasts caused by weight gain and loss can be more permanent.

Breast changes related to pregnancy

Your breasts go through a lot of changes during and just after your pregnancy. Veins may swell, the nipples and areolas darken and/or change shape and the entire structure of the breast can swell. Weight gain during pregnancy can also lead to changes in the breasts, and all the hormonal happenings in your body can even cause breast density to change permanently. After pregnancy, your breasts are unlikely to return to the exact form they were before, and that’s true whether or not you breastfeed. It’s common for women to note that their breasts are a different size or shape, but density can also be impacted, which means your breasts may feel or look slightly more saggy following a pregnancy. This effect can be exacerbated by multiple pregnancies. Here are 5 facts about breast implants after pregnancy.

Fibrocystic changes to breasts

One particularly frightening change to your breasts as you age is called fibrocystic changes. This occurs when lumps in your breasts fill with fluid, causing cysts, and coming across this change without expecting it can ramp up cancer worries. It’s always important to report lumps to your medical provider and get checked out, but many times these changes are just harmless parts of the aging process.

Collagen gives way and provides less support

Sagging and falling breasts are a sure sign of aging, and on average women start to experience these issues in their 40s. One of the reasons is that collagen, which has held your breasts in place up to this time, begins to give way and isn’t being replaced by your body. Estrogen changes also cause more sagging skin, and gravity simply starts to win its life-long battle with your bosom.

mEstrogen and other hormones play an ongoing role

Hormones are a huge factor in the changes that occur over time in your breasts. In early years, hormones work to firm and plump the breast, especially during pregnancy, where they cue the body to prepare for breastfeeding. As you age, the natural amount of estrogen in your body begins to taper off, and that can cause your breasts to become less dense and firm. It also contributes to changes in skin tone and sagging.

How can breast augmentation can help?

The aging process is something every woman goes through. Health lifestyles, weight management, and both natural and medical remedies can help you stave off some of the signs of aging, but eventually changes in your breasts will be noticeable to you and others. Breast augmentation can help.

No matter where you are in your life journey, breast augmentation may be an option for increasing the size of your breasts, lifting sagging or drooping breasts or re-creating the firmness of younger years. Augmentation isn’t just about getting bigger breasts: you can leverage various options to cultivate the size, shape and feel you want. The best way to successfully combat breast changes with age is to work closely with an experienced plastic surgeon to develop the breasts you want to live with the rest of your life.

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Dr. Cohen

About Dr. Cohen

Dr. Cohen specializes in breast lifts, augmentations, revisions and reductions as well as breast cancer reconstructions. A long time dream of Dr. Cohen’s was to travel to developing countries and provide expert surgical care to those who have no other possible access to medical care. This became a reality in 2007 when she became a founding member and Vice President of ISMS Operation Kids.