There’s nothing like removing a bra at the end of the day, but since stay-at-home orders evolved into remote working, more and more women are putting comfort first, meaning our bras are staying put in the back of our drawers. But do bras actually prevent breasts from sagging? Plastic surgeons sound off on whether or not it’s recommended to keep our bras in storage, or if we should be dusting them off.
The Gravity Code
“Gravity is our enemy with aging in general, but specifically when it comes to the breasts,” says New York plastic surgeon B. Aviva Preminger, MD. “Breasts carry a certain weight and, without support, tissue can stretch over time.” For this reason, Dr. Preminger errs on the side of caution when it comes to going braless. “A lot of my breast augmentation patients enjoy going braless, but I caution them about doing it all the time so they don’t fall.”
“Bras are helpful for preventing premature drooping, especially with women with breast implants and larger breasts,” adds Troy, MI plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD, who adds that they should be worn daily in order to keep them perky. However, he adds that it’s perfectly fine to remove the bra after a long day. “I don’t think it’s necessary to sleep in a bra unless you are a few weeks post-operation. Otherwise, lounge and sleep in whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.”
While Dr. Preminger and Dr. Youn believe bras keep the breasts from drooping over time, Grand Rapids, MI plastic surgeon Bradley Bengtson, MD says he doesn’t believe external support does much to support breast tissue and prevent skin stretch over time. “I believe ptosis or sagging of the breast is due to breast weight over time on the soft tissues,” he says. “Patients with bad genetics or significant weight loss have stretchier skin and can tolerate less breast volume.” Additionally, he says that small-breasted patients can have sagginess “due to breastfeeding and a gradual slow progressive stretch and a faster deflation like we see in pregnancy or tummies after pregnancies. The skin rarely goes back to normal. Most of these are things we can’t control.”
In a 15-year study conducted by a professor at the University of Besancon, it was found that “medically, physiologically and anatomically, breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity.” The study concluded that, in the absence of a bra, women are forced to have better posture and develop the muscles that lie underneath the breasts. It was also found that women who wore bras had nipples that were, on average, seven millimeters higher in relation to their shoulders each year than regular bra-users. Wearing tight bras also restricted lymphatic and blood flow, affecting circulation, the study showed.
However, Dr. Bengston does recommend wearing a bra when participating in constant high-impact activity. “I have my patients wear great support bras like SheFit Sportsbras with exercise or significant impact,” he says.
It’s a known fact that wearing a bra can be uncomfortable. “My breast reduction patients often complain of shoulder discomfort from their bra straps because their bras are doing so much heavy lifting,” says Dr. Preminger. “The best solution for this isn’t going without a bra, but rather having their breasts reduced.”