After menopause, your breasts are less dense. That, plus the pull of gravity over the years, can cause "the girls" to become considerably less perky than they were in your salad days – especially if you're well-endowed.
Another factor that contributes to ptosis, the medical term for sagging, is a process called "breast involution." The milk-producing glands in your breasts shrink after your childbearing years are over. This leaves your skin somewhat loose. Also, while studies have shown that breastfeeding doesn't cause drooping, the same research reports that multiple pregnancies do make breasts more likely to sag because of repeated hormonal changes.
But don't despair! There's plenty you can do to keep your breasts looking as youthful and beautiful as possible.
Breasts have no muscles in them, only ligaments that are prone to stretching and losing the ability to snap back. However, if you tone the muscles that support your breasts, you'll get a firmer and more uplifted look after about six to eight weeks. Here's how: Raise your arms to shoulder level and then bend your elbows so that you can press your palms firmly together. Hold for one minute. This is a long time, as you'll see when you try it! The first day, do ten repetitions with pauses in between to the count of ten. Build up to 50 repetitions by adding reps day by day.
Take Care of the Skin on Your Breasts
Exfoliate, moisturize, and above all use sunscreen religiously to avoid a leathery look and age spots. Many women take good care of their faces and forget about the chest area! If that describes you, start treating your breasts to the same anti-aging regimen you use above the neck. You'll see improvement as old cell layers slough off and new ones rise to the surface.
Research that was published in the "Aesthetic Surgery Journal" reported that smoking is a risk factor right along with aging in causing breasts to hang low. You can't turn back the clock, but you can kick the habit! It's not easy, but with support and cessation products, you have an excellent chance of succeeding.
Beware of Yo-Yo Dieting
If you keep losing and gaining weight, the skin on your breasts will stretch. Consequently, you'll see more sagging than you would if you kept your weight consistent. Now you have one more reason to maintain a healthy weight. Let vanity motivate you!
Get Fitted for a Good, Supportive Bra
Bouncing is bad for your breasts! When you exercise, wear a sports bra. The rest of the time, wear a bra that a fitter has helped you choose. Also, if you have a generous bosom, you would do well to wear a sleep bra. Tip: The myth that underwire bras are bad for you and may even cause cancer is just that – a myth!
Borrow a trick from models in order to get some Elizabethan allure when you're wearing low-cut styles: Use adhesive tape to keep your breasts together! You can also buy a product called Strap Perfect that clips your bra straps together between your should blades to give you much more lift and create cleavage.
Breast enhancement surgery
Finally, if you really want to regain the firmness of youth, consider surgery. The cost is high and recovery takes time, but most women are acceptable candidates for enhancement at any age. An article in the “The New York Times” entitled “The Golden Years, Polished with Surgery” reported that Marie Kolstad had her breasts done at the age of 83. She looked good in the accompanying photo and made no apologies for her decision to improve her appearance as an octogenarian. Maybe that's not for you, but we say to each her own!
Sondra Forsyth, Senior Editor at ThirdAge, is a National Magazine Award winner. She writes for major magazines and is the author or co-author of eleven books. She was Executive Editor at "Ladies’ Home Journal," Features Editor at "Cosmopolitan," and Articles Editor at "Bride’s." A former ballerina, she is the Artistic Director of Ballet Ambassadors, an arts-in-education company in New York City.