Background/purpose: The skin overlying a woman's breast acts as an anatomical support structure to the breast. Although aging is known to affect the thickness and elasticity of human skin, limited research has examined age-related changes to skin covering the breast or related these changes to breast support requirements. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of age on female breast skin thickness and elasticity.
Methods: The left breast of 339 women (18-84 years), classified into four age groups (18-24 years, 25-44 years, 45-64 years, and 65 + years), was divided into four quadrants. Skin thickness (dermal layer; 20 MHz ultrasound probe) and skin elasticity (Cutometer® MPA 580) were measured for each breast quadrant and then compared to determine whether there was any significant (P < 0.05) effect of aging on breast skin.
Results: Breast skin thickness significantly decreased from 45 years of age onwards. A significant decline in breast skin elasticity was evident from the mid 20's.
Conclusion: Aging is associated with a significant decline in breast skin thickness and elasticity, which is likely to reduce anatomical breast support. Women might therefore benefit from increased external breast support (i.e. a more supportive bra) with increasing age.