Hold Firm TREATING SAGGY BREASTS Options for women range from supportive bras to surgery words | BRANDY CENTOLANZA
Many pregnant and nursing women experience changes in the shapes of their breasts, which could result in ptosis, or saggy breasts. Is there anything that can be done to alleviate the condition? “There are multiple causes of saggy breasts,” says Saied Asfa, MD, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with Asfa Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa in Harrisonburg. Dr. Asfa specializes in the condition. Pregnancy and breastfeeding, weight fluctuation, and age and gravity may all play a role. Skin loses elasticity as women grow older, so breasts naturally begin to droop. “It is very common as a result of pregnancy,” says Dr. Asfa. “It could also be heredity.” Multiple pregnancies, a higher body mass index, and a larger breast cup size may also contribute to ptosis. There are three classifications of sagging breasts ranging from mild to severe, depending on the position of the breast nipple. The most severe cases are when the nipple falls below the infra-mammary fold, which is where the underside of the breast attaches to the chest wall. Diet and exercise or pills or creams that claim to help with saggy breasts do not work, according to Dr. Asfa. “There is not much that you can do to prevent saggy breasts,” he says. “A supportive bra could help, but that is not 100 percent.” Dr. Asfa recommends a bra with an underwire. 40
OurHealth | The Resource for Healthy Living in the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville
For many women uncomfortable with droopy breasts, the best option may be plastic surgery, particularly a procedure known as mastopexy, or a breast lift. During a breast lift, excess skin is removed and breast tissue is reshaped to better firm and raise the breasts. It is routinely performed on women with saggy breasts or whose nipples point downward. Mastopexy only changes the shape of the breasts, not their size, though the surgery can be done in combination with a breast augmentation or breast reduction. “A breast lift is one of our most common procedures,” Dr. Asfa says. Breast lift surgery has increased by 70 percent since the year 2000. Lori Ross, one of Dr. Asfa’s patients, had a breast lift five years ago at the age of 45. She opted for the procedure in part because she had developed cysts in her breasts that needed to be removed. “I wish I had done it sooner,” Ross says. “The procedure and the recovery were better than expected. It was amazing. It’s been a few years, and my breasts are still where they should be.” Mastopexy is not covered by insurance, since it is considered a cosmetic procedure. Most issues with saggy breasts are cosmetic, although in the most severe cases, some women develop a fungal infection underneath the breast skin, where moisture from perspiration may become trapped. This situation would be considered a medical condition, and therefore if the breasts are very large with existence of the fungal infection, the corrective procedure may be covered by insurance.