Breastfeeding Does Not Create Sagging Breasts

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Oct 29 2007 - 1:08am

Breastfeeding And Sagging Breasts

While the benefits of breastfeeding are unquestionable, many new mothers choose not to for fear of sagging breasts. However, breastfeeding alone has no impact on a woman's breast shape, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2007 conference in Baltimore.

"Many women who come in for breast surgery tell us their breasts are sagging, drooping or are less full because they breastfed," said Brian Rinker, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study author. "Although the amount of sagging in the breasts appears to increase with each pregnancy, we've found that breastfeeding does not worsen the effect."

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The study examined 93 women who were pregnant one or more times prior to having cosmetic breast surgery. Fifty-eight percent of patients reported breastfeeding one or more of their children. The duration of breastfeeding ranged from 2 to 25 months, with an average of nine months. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported an adverse change in the shape of their breasts following pregnancy.

As the first study to examine what impacts breast shape in connection to pregnancy, plastic surgeons found that a history of breastfeeding, the number of children breastfed, the duration of each child's breastfeeding, or the amount of weight gained during pregnancy were not significant predictors for losing breast shape. However, body mass index (BMI), the number of pregnancies, a larger pre-pregnancy bra size, smoking history, and age were significant risk factors for an increased degree of breast sagging.

Nearly 104,000 women had breast lifts in 2006, up 96 percent since 2000, according to the ASPS. In addition, more than 329,000 women had breast augmentation, making it the top surgical cosmetic procedure in 2006.

"Women may be reluctant to breastfeed because of this unfounded myth that doing so means the end of youthful breasts," said Dr. Rinker. "Now, expectant mothers can relax knowing breastfeeding does not change the appearance of their breasts."

Breast milk provides indisputable health benefits to infants. Research has shown breastfed infants have improved general health, growth and development as well as a lower risk of many acute and chronic illnesses than bottle-fed infants.

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