Sagging? Blame smoking, not breastfeeding


New York : Don’t blame breastfeeding for sagging breasts — a new study has found that feeding does not affect breast shape, but smoking does.

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Researchers at the University of Kentucky, led by plastic surgeon Brian Rinker, arrived at this conclusion after a study with patients in Britain. The findings were presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons this week.

“A lot of times, if a woman comes in for a breast lift or a breast augmentation, she’ll say ‘I want to fix what breastfeeding did to my breasts’,” Rinker said. This prompted him to find out if breast sagging was a result of breastfeeding.

Rinker’s team interviewed 132 women — with an average age of 39 — between 1998 and 2006. Ninty-three percent had had at least one pregnancy, and most of the mothers — 58 percent — had breastfed at least one child.

The team also evaluated the patients’ medical history, body mass index, pre-pregnancy bra cup size, and smoking status.

The results showed no difference in the degree of breast ptosis — the medical term for sagging of the breast — for those women who breastfed and those who did not.

The team, however, found that several other factors did affect breast sagging, including age, the number of pregnancies, and whether the patient smoked.

“Smoking breaks down a protein in the skin called elastin, which gives youthful skin its elastic appearance and supports the breast… so it would make sense that it would have an adverse effect on the breasts,” Rinker said.