Breast sagging is something that none of us want to deal with, but we all know that it can come with age, pregnancy, breast feeding, weight gain and genetics.
For generations, women have been advised that wearing a bra would keep breasts from sagging, prevent back pain and improve posture.
Wrong, wrong and wrong, according to a study conducted by Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports medicine specialist from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Besancon, France.
“Medically, physiologically, anatomically — breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” Rouillon said, as quoted on TheLocal.fr. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”
Rouillon should know: Since 1997, he has been studying the breasts of 330 volunteers ages 18 to 35 using a slide ruler and a caliper to record the changes in breast position as the women aged, CBSNews.com reports.
His meticulous research revealed that women could experience about a 1/4-inch (7-millimeter) lift in the nipples each year they didn’t wear a bra, news site Counsel & Healreports.
The researchers involved in the study suggested that bras — which Rouillon now calls “a false necessity”— discourage the growth of supporting breast tissue, leaving the breasts to sag more quickly.
Other research has challenged the conventional wisdom that breast-feeding causes breast ptosis (sagging). A 2007 study of 132 women revealed that breast-feeding had no effect on the degree of breast sagging.
What did affect breast ptosis, that research revealed, was age, smoking status and the number of times a woman had become pregnant.
Because Rouillon’s study focused on younger women, he cautioned that the results can’t be generalized to all women.
“It would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their soutien-gorge [bra] as the women involved were not a representative sample of the population,” he said, as quoted in French news site The Connexion.
“It would be of no benefit to a 45-year-old mother to stop wearing a bra,” Rouillon said.
One of the participants in the study extolled the virtues of going bra-free: “There are multiple benefits: I breathe more easily, I carry myself better and I have less back pain,” she told news site France Info.
Theory # 1
Wearing a bra can cause sagging.
Breasts do not have muscle in them, they have ligaments and connective tissue. One study with this claim was in Japan over a 3 month period. Women aged 22-39 did not wear a bra for three months and measured, then wore a bra constantly for 3 months and the results were that during the bra wearing months the breast hung lower when measured. This was regardless of the women weight.
Another study in France with 250 women who practiced sports regularly stopped wearing a bra for an entire year. At the 6 week check up most of the women reported discomfort with not wearing a bra, but after the study was finished, 88% of the women reported improved comfort, even felt better than before the study started. The study showed perkier, more elevated and firmer breasts. However, another study with jogging showed that the bouncing can tear the ligaments so it is recommended to wear a sports bra for that type of exercise.
Wearing an ill-fitting bra is what causes the sagging.
If your bra does not fit and your breast hangs out the on sides, or the wires or fabric is digging into your skin then that will contribute to tearing of ligaments, and can cause stretching.