TMI Questions About Breasts and Weight Loss — Answered
You follow a strict diet and workout regime, yet the fat around your waist, hips, and thighs refuse to budge. Your breasts, however, seem more cooperative with weight loss.
As a woman, reaching adolescence enables certain areas of the body to store excess fat due to hormonal changes that support pregnancy and breastfeeding. Unfortunately, substantial weight loss can impact your breasts depending on how much fatty tissue they carry.
Question #1: What is breast tissue?
Fatty tissue makes up almost all of your breasts, which expands as you gain weight. Having a fuller chest means you have more fat tissue and fewer duct or lobule volume—the lean tissue required for breastfeeding.
When you lose weight, cells in the fat tissue shrink along with other similar cells in your body. Dropping pounds can have a noticeable effect on the size of your breasts, especially if you have a lot of fatty tissue in the area. Some women with dense breast tissue are lucky to experience none or less significant changes.
Your genetics play a role in the amount of fat tissue your breasts can store and their subsequent size. The only way to determine if you have fatty or dense breasts is through a mammogram. In a mammogram, fatty breast tissue appears dark and transparent while dense breast tissue presents a solid white area.
Question #2: What should I know about my body size and breasts?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology, women with large breasts often weigh more. They likewise have a higher body mass index and more body fat compared to women with smaller breasts. To see obvious changes, Shape magazine notes that women need to lose about 20 percent of their total weight to drop an entire cup size. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you would need to shed 36 pounds to drop from a D to a possible C cup.
Question #3: Can I lose weight and maintain my breast size?
If you focus less on cardio and more on strength training, you will lose fat without affecting your muscle mass. To be clear, you will lose breast fat. But strength training and building chest muscles will help keep most of your breasts' perky appearance.
It is also important to lose weight at a slow, sustainable rate to ensure your breasts experience less impact. Shedding a pound or two each week will not create as much stress for the proteins responsible for strengthening and maintaining the buoyancy of your skin (collagen and elastin).
Question #4: What if my breasts sag after losing weight?
In most cases, only those who lose extreme amounts of weight experience breast shrinkage and sagging. These include women who underwent bariatric surgery for morbid obesity. The reason behind breasts that appear smaller and saggier after weight loss is that the skin and supportive tissue have stretched out.
Yo-Yo dieting may also contribute to breast sag. Also known as the Yo-Yo effect, it is the cyclical loss and gain of weight, resembling the up-down motion of a yo-yo. If you follow this fad, the proteins supporting your breast tissue may experience stress and leave your breasts permanently flaccid.
Question #5: How do I prevent sagging breasts?
Even going to bed without support from a bra can feel uncomfortable if you have saggy breasts. Weight loss can cause stretched skin to sag over many areas of your body, including your breasts. But on a positive note, there are ways to prevent them from weakening and drooping.
Similar to how you can retain your breast size after weight loss, picking up some weights can help preserve their shape. Because breasts do not have muscles, no specific exercise targets them. But strength training your pectoral muscles with exercises like chin-ups, bench presses, or rowing will stimulate the buildup of stronger muscles in your chest wall, which, in turn, help hold up your breasts.
In addition, take time to exfoliate your skin daily to remove dead skin cells and improve the skin’s elasticity. To do so, massage wet skin with an exfoliating glove, body scrub, or loofah. After drying the skin with a soft towel, apply a skin-firming cream or lotion. Choose products that contain herbal extracts like aloe vera to encourage collagen production, which also keeps skin firm and supple.
Question #6: What if my breasts are already sagging?
Got sag? We recommend a breast lift. Also known as mastopexy, the surgical procedure lifts and reshapes sagging breasts. Not only does it trim excess skin and tightens supporting tissue, but a successful lift can also make the breast feel firmer to the touch. What’s more, a mastopexy can resize and reposition the areola (nipple) to enhance the appearance of the breasts.
A quick, at-home test to determine if you need breast lift surgery is to examine your nipple’s position relative to the breast fold. If your nipple rests below the fold, you need a lift. However, the procedure cannot alter your breast size. A lift only repositions and rejuvenates breast tissue, typically close to how your pre-surgery breasts look in a bra.
Question #7: What should I do if my breasts are smaller than they used to be?
Breast augmentation is an option. In this practice, a saline or silicone implant is placed into the breast to add volume and improve breast shape. Breast augmentation may be right for you if you want to increase your breast size or have lost breast volume after weight loss.
Breast augmentation is the top cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States. It continues to be the leading choice of many patients, but it isn’t right for everyone. On its own, it cannot correct sagging.
Question #8: Can I get breast lift surgery and augmentation in one operation?
"With appropriate patient selection and a carefully planned operative approach, our data demonstrate a one-stage procedure can be safely performed with acceptable complication and reoperation rates," concludes a study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Guerra Plastic Surgery Center’s very own board-certified surgeon often performs a breast lift in conjunction with breast augmentation. The combination beautifully restores the breasts and achieves a fuller, more youthful appearance for patients of all ages.
Are you interested in a combination of mastopexy and breast augmentation in Phoenix, AZ? Call 480-970-2580 or fill out our form to schedule your *free consultation.