By Carla Walsh
After I was done with breastfeeding my third child, I was disheartened to see the state of my breasts. We are often quick to point out the perks of breastfeeding, but the reality of how it changes the breasts is not often talked about. After weaning, the breast tissues contracts but the skin does not shrink to the same degree. The result is breasts with a saggy, deflated appearance and the nipples droop lowers.
Saggy breasts, or breast ptosis, is a common topic at mummy gatherings. Frequently, I hear friends complain “my bra is hollow”, “my breasts are sad and droopy” or “I prefer to have sex with my bra on”, which led me to seek for ways to prevent breast ptosis and for means to re-lift and re-volumise the breasts.
Building up the chest muscles, on which the breasts sit, may help to make them look perkier. Some chest exercises are designed to make the breasts appear uplifted by strengthening the pectoral muscles. You can find many YouTube videos with easy-to-follow chest exercises that improve your bust line. Much as these workouts claim to lift the breasts, it is not possible to upsize our breasts or give them a lift with exercises alone. Too much chest exercise may in fact burn away breast fat and result in more deflation. So go easy on the push-ups.
There is no bra out there that will reverse sagging. Still, wearing a well-fitted bra will help shape the breasts and give a lift while it is on and prevent the sagging process from accelerating. This is especially important when you are exercising. The bounce of the breasts during exercise puts stress on the breast ligaments. The breast tissue rests on a network of ligaments, which forms the supporting scaffold for your breasts. These weakens and stretches over time, contributing to the flaccidity of aging breasts.
Personally, I prefer wire-free bra for better comfort and during my research to find the best support no-wire bra, I discovered that they are healthier for breasts and may actually be able to slow down sagging. Their unrestrictive construction allows for natural movement of the breasts, keeping muscles in the chest area strong. Victoria’s Secret Sexy Illusions range manages to be as sexy as the other styles in the collection despite the absence of underwire for defined shaping. For bustier ladies, Elomi carries a superb range of under-wire side-support bra, credited by the inclusion of ‘inner slings’ to line the bra cup for extra support. Prima Donna bras also has an excellent range for larger breast sizes, which on top of being supportive, are also sexy and comfortable.
Breast Lift Surgery
Surgery and scars may not be acceptable to some, but no modality can lift and enhance the breasts better than a Breast Lift. Also, known as a Mastopexy, the procedure reverses the sagging process by removing redundant skin and reshaping the breasts from within. The scars from the surgery are strategically hidden around the areolae. In very saggy breasts, where a lot of skin tightening is required, additional scars may be required. A mastopexy surgery will set you back around $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the severity of the ptosis.
For those suffering from very large breasts, a breast reduction surgery will lighten the breasts, and at the same time, like a breast lift, improve the breast shape and elevate the bust at the same time. Breast reduction surgery may be covered by insurance or Medisave, so do discuss with your plastic surgeon.
Sagginess aside, breastfeeding has drained the volume out of my breasts too. I spoke to Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Dr Chia Hui Ling, from SW1 Plastic Surgery Clinic, on options for replenishing this loss of volume. I am glad I found an experienced female plastic surgeon, whom I can openly discuss this touchy topic. The idea of fat grafting truly intrigued me, that I can actually use the fat I gained from my serial pregnancies to augment my breasts. Dr Chia explained that the process of fat grafting starts with liposuction to harvest the fat. The fat is reaped from areas of excess flab and is processed by lipo-condensation using the latest Lipokit system, before re-injection into the breasts. The downside is that more than 1 session may be required because the breast can only absorb a limited amount of fat each time. But the results is au-naturale and preferred by women who wants moderate increase of 1, possibly 2 cup sizes.
Attractive as it sounds, not all women are suitable for fat grafting. “For women lacking in body fat, or those who wants to achieve more perkiness and upsizing,” explains Dr Chia, “breast augmentation using implants will give a far superior result, in terms of size and shape”. Dr Chia added that breast implants has a lifting effect, instantly correcting mild sagginess without the need for a mastopexy surgery. The cost of these surgeries are in the range of $15,000 – $20,000 for fat grafting and $12,000 – $16,000 for implant augmentation.
I want to end with an important message on breast health. Breast cancer is common and affects approximately 1 in 11 women in their lifetime in Singapore, with nearly 2000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. All women should start breast self-examination (BSE) from 20 years of age and speak to your doctor about screening mammogram from 40 years of age.
Dr Chia emphasised that “it is imperative for women, after they reach 40 years of age, to have a screening mammogram before any breast enhancement surgery.” Dr Chia is the co-founder of Breast Reconstruction Awareness Singapore (BRAS), a non-profit organisation aimed at providing information and support to women considering breast reconstruction. BRAS is holding a public symposium on breast cancer and reconstruction on 27 October 2018, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Find out more about the symposium here.