Breasts of any size can be pendulous.[1]

Pendulous Breasts refers to breasts that are not self supporting and is commonly seen in all breast shapes and sizes with age, following events like fast or heavy weightloss, pregnancy and breast feeding. Here pendulous breasts are defined as those where the majority of the breast tissue lies below the inframammary fold (IMF) and where the nipple lies on or below the IMF.[2] It is distinct from other breast shapes because it occurs to all breast tissue, to some extent, with time. The fitting problems it presents are largely similar and encompassed by full on bottom fitting advice and recommendations. This combined with the natural universal nature of the shape makes it a somewhat redundant shape category that perpetuates body shaming of the aging process in women. Some definitions also include larger projected breasts without loss of volume as gravity means these cannot be self supporting and so the additional volume lies below the IMF. This is also arguably a redundant classification as large projected breasts do not present extra fitting problems simply because gravity and basic physics means they are not self supporting and introduces unnecessary elements of body shaming for larger breasted women.

Pendulous breasts are a normal shape variation and do not cause any inherent health concerns but are commonly referenced to body shame. It is worth noting that this aging process related shape is prized by some cultures as a sign of fertility and mature femininity.[2]

Health concernsEdit

No physical health concerns result from pendulous breasts as it is a natural phemonenon resulting from gravitational and aging processes. Common physical problems relate more to very large and/or heavy breasts rather than to breast shape. Very heavy and large breasts can cause chronic back and neck pain and poor posture leading to other health complications. Mental health can be impacted through individuals’ concern about pocessing a pendulous breast shape and perception of social stigma. This is not confined to only pendulous breast shape and can be encountered with any breast variation. While this can be effectively dealt with directly through approved psychological treatment, some women do choose surgical options to adress excessive concerns of breast shape variation.[2]

Further InformationEdit

Please note that intervention to alter pendulous breasts is not required and the following are mentioned only to provide information on options for those for who it is of great concern.

Non-surgical AlterationEdit

There has been some debate over whether wearing bras more often helps to combat aging and gravitational effects on breast tissue elevation. This debate has been largely started by isolated and heavily criticised popularist studies that have suggested various health impacts from habitual bra wearing. One such very questionable and later debunked study gained much attention for claiming that bras actually caused decending breast tissue - it is unlikely this studies findings are very accurate. [3][4]

A properly fitted bra will help breasts appear less pendulous while one is wearing it, however there isn’t a firm scientific consensus on whether wearing a bra will reduce the effect of aging and gravity on breast elevation. It is worth noting however that the effect of gravity on all human tissue over time is unquestioned, suggesting that wearing a bra is more likely to reduce sagging over time than not wearing one. [5] It is widely agreed that participating in athletic activity, particularly high impact sports such as running without a sports bra can increases sagging, due to stretching and break down of the breast ligaments.[6]

The best evidence suggests that wearing a bra regulary is more beneficial to health and appearance than not wearing one and that wearing a supportive sports bra is essential when engaging in physical activity. Wearing a bra at night is less often mentioned in relation to fighting gravity and aging processes on breast tissue and the best guide for employing this is individual preference and comfort. Women with heavier breasts often find that wearing a light unwired bra or knitted crop while sleeping or lounging provides sufficient support to reduce breast pain.

Surgical AlterationEdit

Some women choose to employ surgical techniques to alter appearance of the pendulous breasts. Please note this is by no means recommended or required as it is a very natural shape. Surgery for cosmetic purposes should always be weighed very seriously against the inherent risks. The decision to employ surgery to alter the breasts is very much a personal one and is best left to the individual.

The surgical procedure with the most immediate effect on altering a pendulous breast shape is the breast lift which involves removing extended skin surrounding the breast tissue and moving the nipple to a higher position. Augmentation is also often performed to replace lost upper volume and to refill stretched skin. For those with very large breasts and without loss of volume a breast reduction may be considered although large breasts without loss of volume are not defined as pendulous under the criteria used here .[2] Both augmentation and reduction are routinely carried out in conjunction with breast lifts and will be suggested by good surgeons at initial consult.


  1. Dr. Ashraf Metwally: "Breast Reduction Surgery"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Muscle Works Magazine: "Pendulous breasts problems"
  4. Channel 4 UK: "Bras, the Bare Facts"
  6. Ayres, B., White, J., Hedger, W., and Scurr, J.: "The influence of sports bra material properties on upper body and breast skin temperature and thermal comfort following exercise."

See alsoEdit