Feeling droopy? Blaming breastfeeding?
Not so fast.
A study published this week in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal sexily titled "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins" has both good news and bad news for women who worry that nursing will take some of the pert and perk out of their chests.
Digital photographs were taken of the breasts of 161 pairs of identical female twins who attending the Twins Days Festivals in Twinsberg, Ohio in 2009 and 2010, and shown to plastic surgery residents from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. By accounting for the different life experiences of the twin pairs, the researchers concluded that while multiple pregnancies and breastfeeding are among the factors that can lead to drooping, and “less attractive areola size”, those are far from the only things bringing down our breasts. Smoking has a negative effect over time, as do consumption of alcohol, weight gain and just plain being large-breasted in the first place (ie, gravity.)
They also concluded that on one measure -- better skin quality -- women who breastfed scored better than those who did not. Not exactly what you were hoping to hear, but it's something.
So no, you are not imagining it. Your breasts are not what they were before you had children. (But you didn’t need a medical study to tell you that, now did you?) Still, living healthy can stave off some of the negative effects. Hormone replacement therapy is also correlated with improved breast shape (though there is also a link between HRT and an increased risk of breast cancer.) And twins who moisturized their breasts daily had fewer rhytids, or wrinkles associated with aging, than those who didn’t.
Moisturize away. But probably not while you are in the middle of nursing.