The boob drop is something that happens to almost everyone. Here’s how to get rid of saggy boobs and crepey skin on your chest and neck
When it comes to ageing, nothing quite gives the game away as saggy boobs and crepey skin on our chest and neck. When we’re younger, we likely take for granted that we have perky boobs and the so-called “boob drop” can often creep up on us, almost by surprise.
Whether it’s weight gain, or loss, pregnancy, menopause or too much sun exposure, there are various reasons (in addition to the ticking of time) that explain why your boobs may not be as perky as they once were. This doesn’t mean, however, you can’t prevent it from happening or at least stem the flow for as long as possible.
To discuss all things saggy boobs, we’ve spoken to a number of experts to learn more about why it happens, what makes them worse and how to beat the boob drop.
But firstly, a disclaimer. All bodies are beautiful and at mamabella. We’re not, for one second, suggesting you should take on any of this advice, nor are we being critical about saggy boobs. We have them and we often feel conscious about it so wanted to learn more about the science of it all. If you’re like us, and this is helpful then great but please don’t think that your boobs, no matter how big, small or how low they hang, aren’t perfect just the way they are!
FURTHER READING: The best creams, lotions and masks to help lift and firm your boobs
The simple answer to what causes saggy boobs is gravity. The more complicated answer involves a number of factors including the type of skin found on your boobs, lifestyle factors, diet, weight and more.
“As we age, it’s only natural for skin to lose its elasticity and moisture levels,” Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics told mamabella. “This includes our breasts because the skin is very sensitive and thin; it contains fewer sebaceous glands and limited melanocytes meaning it’s more easily damaged.”
During a woman’s lifetime, breasts will change in shape and content, particularly as following childbirth the mammary gland system kicks in for the production of milk. Alongside age as a contributing factor, pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to the appearance of the breasts which age far quicker than anywhere else.
“This is largely down to hormonal changes alongside the ageing process and loss of collagen,” continued Dr Ross.
“As estrogen levels dip, the skin and connective tissues of the breasts lose hydration and elasticity and this is all perfectly normal.”
As you can read in our guide to How your skin changes in each decade of your life – and what to do about it, by the time we reach our 30s, our metabolism starts to slow down. This means collagen and elastin production drops at a faster rate than in our 20s and is what causes our skin to look less plump and bouncy.
At the same time, cell turnover slows down. This can also cause the skin to become tired, dryer and more sensitive.
Plastic surgeon, Dr Paul Banwell added: “In addition to ageing and genetics, we are all guilty of habits that could be making boobs sag. There are certain things that you can do to help reduce the sagging such as wearing a bra, not smoking, wearing sunscreen and so on.”
As with all signs of ageing, the only real way to counteract the boob drop is surgery. You can’t stop ageing entirely, whichever route you take, but there are things you can do to look younger, plumper and have perky boobs for a lot longer. We’ve summarised the advice on the list below. Click on each bullet point to read more about each step.
As with anywhere on the body with thinner skin – another area is around your eyes – it’s important to keep the area well moisturised.
“If you’re looking for a firming moisturising cream for the boob and décolletage, then I’d advise looking for products containing B3 or niacinamide which aim to reduce wrinkles and improve the elasticity of the skin,” explained Dr Ross.
Kimberley Medd, Head of Clinic, Face The Future also said that keeping yourself hydrated can help improve the appearance and health of your skin around your face, neck and chest.
“Always take a glass of water to bed with you to help boost the skin’s natural hydration and functionality,” Medd told mamabella. “We lose around 1 litre of water every night when sleeping. Drinking more water will help boost your skin’s health on wakening.”
We’ve got a full list of boob-lifting creams and serums listed here. We also have a list of firming creams that will do the job and have handpicked the best neck and chest creams. Here are the top three.
Not only is Ageless by Prai fantastic at toning up your neck and décolleté skin, but it gives mature skin an incredible shine, and overall greatly improves skin elasticity. It uses so-called SEPILIFT DPHP technology, with mulberry, saxifrage and grape seed extracts, to brighten the skin while shea butter and hyaluronic acid nourish and lift.
Where to buy: Boots
This balm is pricey but worth the extra money. Wild olive, sea amber, shiitake mushroom and tree fern lift and tighten the skin around the neck and décolleté, while mango seed butter, safflower and Evening Primrose oils lock in moisture to make the area look plump and youthful.
Where to buy: ESPA
FURTHER READING: The best products for saggy boobs
If you’re anything like us and you often forget to apply neck and chest creams, this serum spray is a fantastic, on-the-go alternative. Simply spray this serum on your skin and let it sink in. It contains 5% Niacinamide with 4% Idealift Peptides to fight the visible effects of sagging. To boost the impact, lock the hydration in with a cream or lotion on top.
RRP: £16.45 for Beauty Pie members, £75 for non-members
Where to buy: Beauty Pie
You can’t only buy masks for your face, you can also buy them for your boobs to help with boob drop. These masks contain Vitamin C, antioxidants, and watermelon extract to help the skin on both your bum and your boobs become more hydrated and moisturised. Unlike most boob drop products this one targets the breasts themselves, rather than just the chest area.
Where to buy: Amazon
Dr Ross also suggests cleansing your area daily, as you (hopefully) do with your face. “The chest area and neck are often forgotten when it comes to our skincare routine but can equally get clogged up with dirt and grime. Hot showers can also make it feel dry and dehydrated with lines more prominent. I’d also advise regularly exfoliating the skin and following with a moisture-retaining cream.”
“You may want to begin to incorporate a weekly mask in that area, too,” added cosmetic doctor, Dr Rekha Tailor of Health & Aesthetics. “Key ingredients to help fight this loss of elasticity and premature ageing would be things like Retin-A, which increases the collagen production in the skin and helps to rebuild the skin, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin E which are antioxidants that will tone the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.”
Once elasticity and collagen are reduced it’s very hard to get these back so it’s best to work on prevention more than anything else. It’s also important to remember that because genes and lifestyle play a part in the appearance of sagging breasts and premature ageing, there’s no such thing as a miracle cream. No matter what the price tag is.
Boob masks and firming creams will help with hydration, which in addition will reduce the appearance of fine lines, but won’t get rid of them altogether. You should also keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water, eating a well-balanced diet, keeping out of the sun and engaging in a skin routine as you would with your face.
As the boobs and décolletage area are one of the areas that show the first signs of premature ageing, due to the thinning of the skin, it’s important to wear SPF 30 all year round. Especially if you’re exposing this area to UV rays
Dr Tailor recommends looking for SPF that contains antioxidants contains Vitamin D to help fight environmental damage.
“Sunscreen prevents the delicate breast tissue and décolletage from being exposed to harmful UV and HEV rays,” continued Dr Paul. “Not only does this reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer, but it can also help to protect against premature wrinkles around the breast area and the reduced skin cell renewal caused by sun damage.
“Sun damage can also destroy the collagen and elastin in your skin. Collagen is a protein that retains firmness hence if this is reduced your boobs can become saggier as the skin loses elasticity, which is why it’s vital to protect against it.”
You can read more about UV rays in our What is SPF and why is it so important? guide, and learn about the impact of HEV rays in our Could your phone be prematurely ageing you? Blue light can make wrinkles and fine lines worse article.
A good bra doesn’t just give the appearance of more perky boobs, it can also help counteract the boob drop and prevent saggy boobs in the longer term, too.
“As most women’s weight fluctuates with breast shape-changing, it’s important to get a well-fitted bra which supports but allows room to breathe,” said Dr Ross.
“Many women have decided to stop wearing a bra during lockdown,” added Dr Paul. “However, I would urge people not to do this long-term. Wearing a bra can help stop premature sagging of the skin and tissue around the breast area because of the fact that they will be supported more.
“This, therefore, makes them less likely to be moving around and stretching the delicate connective tissue. Wearing the wrong-sized bra can change the appearance of your breasts and if your bra isn’t supportive enough, it may cause them to sag or droop, so a correctly fitting bra is key.”
According to research, around 7% of us sleep on our stomachs. Whilst this can help to prevent snoring and sleep apnoea (in adults) it can be terrible for the breasts. “Having them pressed against a mattress for hours doesn’t help with their perkiness and can increase the onset of wrinkles,” explained Dr Paul.
“Sleeping on your side is not advised either as this can, over time, cause breast ligaments to stretch.”
Medd added: “Studies have shown that your sleeping position can have an adverse effect on your skin.
“Side or stomach sleeping may lead to facial sagging, distortion, and wrinkles over time. This is because our skin experiences friction and force against our pillow, making our face ‘scrunch up’ overnight.
This can lead to the development of vertical sleep wrinkles over time, as well as other signs of premature ageing such as skin laxity.”
Back sleeping is best advised as it helps to keep your skincare products on your face and off of your bedsheets, and it prevents your skin from gathering and creasing.
If you just can’t get used to sleeping on your back, you can either place a pillow under them for support.
Alternatively you can buy silicone patches specifically for your chest area.
We’ve previously used the Oia Skin silicone anti-wrinkle patches (pictured left) which can be worn overnight and help prevent the skin on your breasts from being squashed as you sleep. They’re not perfect and if you have big boobs then you may find they move in the night, but it can help. Read more in our Oia Skin review.
Chances are preventing saggy boobs is long down the list of reasons why you think you should quit smoking, but it’s one of many positive benefits.
“In addition to all the obvious health risks associated with smoking it also affects the elasticity of the skin,” Dr Paul told us. “There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin. These are the fibres that give your skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking or even being around people who are smoking can degrade the skin and cause premature ageing and sagging in the breast area.”
If the above treatments don’t go far enough for you, or you’ve left it a little late and want something a little more effective, you can opt for surgery.
Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic procedure in the UK and, according to Dr Paul, there seems to be a huge rise in the desire for a shapely but natural result with the ‘fake’ look becoming less popular.
Figures released in 2020 by The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons revealed the UK’s most popular plastic surgery procedures. Among women, breast augmentation (enlargement) was carried out the most often, with 7,727 people going ahead with the surgery. The second most common for women is the opposite – breast reduction, with 4,014 operations.
These figures alone emphasise what a widespread concern breast augmentation surgery is, and the importance of awareness when seeking a surgeon and clinic to carry out the procedure. So what do each of the different surgeries do? Dr Paul gave us the lowdown.
Breast augmentation in the form of enlargement or enhancement is one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures in the world. It aims to increase the size of the breasts but can also be suitable to correct asymmetry through enlarging.
The surgery involves placing a breast implant either behind the breast tissue or partially under the pectoralis muscle. The insertion of the implant will make the breast look larger and fuller, and can reduce the appearance of sagging.
Many patients will need implants exchanged in the first ten to fifteen years for various reasons, such as the desire to change size or volume, ruptured implant, capsular contracture (scar tissue), issues with rippling, wanting new innovations, and so on.
A breast lift attempts to naturally redrape the breast skin envelope to raise the position of the nipple and create a lift. The main reasons for choosing this procedure is to reshape sagging breasts and improve contour, increase firmness, raise the position of downward pointing nipples, reduce the size of the areola and of course, improve self-esteem.
The breast can be lifted using a number of surgical techniques including the Wise pattern technique, possibly using a periareolar incision, as well as minimal scar techniques, such as Lejour method and Benelli method. You can read more about the specifics of these on Dr Paul’s website.
Mastopexy is a technique designed to improve the shape and position of the female breasts without reducing their size. It’s a term used for breasts that sag, but are not necessarily too large. Sagging of the breasts may have many causes and could occur with normal development for some women or as a natural part of ageing.
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormones, diet and weight loss are other conditions that increase breast ptosis (sagging).
“If your breasts are very empty then some patients will obtain a better shape by enlarging. If an implant is used at the time of mastopexy this is called an augmentation mastopexy. Mastopexy surgery is safe but can’t be performed without some degree of scarring.”
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget