Due to the passage of time, hormonal changes, and gravity—most women begin to see a change in their breasts at around age 40. It is normal at this point for breasts to appear smaller, less firm, more droopy, and/or further apart. Exactly when and how quickly changes like these occur depends a lot on genetics, body type, breast density and factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking.
For these reasons, no two women (and no two breasts) will age in the same way! That being said, nature tends to follow certain patterns when it comes to aging tissues in and around the breast. Understanding how age affects bone, muscle, and other breast tissue can help explain the changes that each woman sees in the mirror, as well as what (if anything) she might want to do about it.
Bones and Muscles
While breasts are not made up of bone, aging of the bones in the rib cage can have a visual impact on the breasts. With age, bone tends to shrink and lose density, providing less support and forward projection of the overlying breasts. This, together with changes in posture, can decrease the appearance of breast fullness. Furthermore, between the rib cage and breast tissue lies a layer of muscle that can greatly affect the appearance of the breasts. The tone and thickness of this muscle tends to diminish with age, resulting in flatter and lower placed breast. However, some of this can be mitigated by exercise to keep these muscles toned.
Breasts are mostly made up of a combination of fat and glandular tissue, including the milk ducts. With age and hormonal changes, breast tissue becomes less glandular, and the ratio of fat becomes higher. While the ratio of fat may be higher, the total amount of fat overall may still be reduced. The remaining fat is also usually less well distributed or smooth. This can result in less volume, especially in the upper part of the breast, and more sagging. Some women gain weight with age, and while fatty tissue increases, the breasts do get bigger as well. Even some women who have undergone a breast augmentation in their youth, find themselves feeling as though their breast are too big and heavy due to this weight gain.
The skin that covers the breast acts like a container for the rest of the breast tissue. Connective tissues like collagen and elastin keep the skintight, elastic, and hydrated. With age, the body can produce less of these connective tissues, causing a loss of elasticity – giving skin a dryer, less plump, and saggy appearance.
There are many parts to a nipple which include the nipple-areolar complex and the actual nipple (the raised part of the nipple-areolar complex. The circle of pigmented skin surrounding the nipple is the areola and it contains small bumps called Montgomery glands. With age, the areola can stretch, become inverted, shrink, or in some cases, even disappear. Among women there is huge diversity in the way all these components come together to form a pair of breasts, making every body unique! There is even more variability in how these breasts then change with age. This means that for those women and men considering plastic surgery, a personalized approach is necessary. It’s important to have a surgeon who can help you achieve the best results possible!
At Synergy Plastic Surgery, our board certified surgeons ensure that every patient meets their own customized aesthetic goals. Schedule your complimentary consultation and unlock your Synergy Experience today!