With aging, a woman's breasts lose fat, tissue, and mammary glands, reducing breast size, firmness, and fullness. The breasts lose support. These changes are mostly due to a decrease in the hormone, estrogen.
Aging breasts commonly flatten and sag, and the nipple may turn in slightly. The area surrounding the nipple (the areola) becomes smaller and may nearly disappear. Loss of hair around the nipple is common.
Breasts may change in size as a woman grows older. Lumps are common around the time of menopause. These are often noncancerous cysts. However, if you notice a lump, make an appointment with your doctor. Breast cancer risk increases with age. Women should perform monthly breast self-examinations. However, because breast self-exams do not always pick up early stages of breast cancer, women should also talk to their health care provider about mammograms.
Michael Langan, M.D. Department of Geriatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.