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The Difference Between Natural and Augmented Breasts

Hilary Heath with her sportswear creations, courtesy of

Hi All!

I’m excited to share a guest post today by Hilary Heath of Sturdy Girl Sports, who is going to tell us her own breast augmentation story, and explain how sports bra support needs change after having a boob job.

And all of you active women out there – from runners, to yogis to dancers and exercise enthusiasts – you’ll want to check out Hilary’s line of Sturdy Girl sports bras and athletic wear, which allow you to continue your favorite high-impact work outs after your breast augmentation, without having to think about (or feel!) your new additions.




Hilary’s Breast Augmentation Story

As your guest host for today, I thought I’d take a moment to explain my background.
In my early forties I found myself doing that thing where you stare at yourself in mirror after a shower and sort of do a full body assessment. Overall, I felt pretty good. I was fit, strong and had lots of energy. The only part of my body that I wasn’t happy with was my breasts. Having been a runner since college and having breast-fed 3 kids, my boobs looked like they’d been through a war.  I knew all the working out in the world wasn’t going to bring my “fried eggs on a clothesline” back to their former perkiness. It was at the point I decided to get breast augmentation and my husband, god bless him, was fully supportive.
I didn’t really have a size in mind. I just asked my surgeon to “fill up the empty space”. My surgeon started with a moderate size, I think 300 cc’s of saline slightly overfilled, but after propping me up on the table and looking at them before closing me up everyone in the room agreed that my breasts still had plenty of space to fill up (read: still saggy looking). So he went up to 400 cc’s and overfilled again which took them 425cc’s. I guess that did the trick because that is how I left surgery. I am happy with how they came out and think they fit my body structure, but I did end up with DD cup size breasts which is bigger than I initially anticipated.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the sports bras I used for running and other high impact sports weren’t going to work any longer.  Sports bras sized “medium” now didn’t fit my breasts although they still fit my rib cage.  Hook and closure sports bras in size 34DD fit me, but I hated the way they looked.  To me, they looked like underwear instead of like a sports bra – which meant I wasn’t going to take my shirt off on a hot summer’s day trail run because I didn’t want to be seen running in underwear. Even worse, I hated what they did to me after a long, sweaty run.  I found I regularly got raw spots from the closure area whether it was located in the back or the front of the bras.  It was at that point that I decided I was going to design a better sports bra that fit my new figure.  It took me another couple of years to actually go do it.
My research into how to design a better sports bra for my new body led me to understanding the differences between augmented breasts and natural breasts. And this is what I am here to share today.

The Difference Between Natural and Augmented Breasts

I learned that as women age, their breast tissue and suspensor ligaments that hold them up – known as Cooper’s ligaments – thin out and droop naturally, just as all the tissue on your body loses its elasticity as you age.
However, once you get implants, the thinning ligaments that would normally sustain naturally thinning breast tissue now need to hold up dense, nonchanging implants, which over time can end up sagging even worse than natural breasts if not properly supported. Implants subjected to repeated unsupported high-impact movement can risk sliding out of the breast pocket created by the surgeon. If this happens, reconstructive surgery is required to fix the situation. This alone is reason enough to make sure you wear a high-support sports bra when working out.
Second, numbness or lack of sensation in nipple tissue is a common side effect of augmentation surgery. It doesn’t even matter where the incision was made. This is because the web of nerves in every woman’s breast is different, and avoiding no affect is almost impossible. As a result of this damage and loss of sensation, nipples may seem to have a mind of their own and stand out at embarrassing times. Workouts are no exception. A good support sports bra will help conceal this when you’re working out and don’t want to be thinking about that!
Third, women commonly get implants that are disproportionately large for their bodies even if their implants are not truly large.  This is because many women with small natural breasts have correspondingly small body frames or low body fat.  So even getting moderate implants on a small or thin body frame can lead to difficultly in finding a sports bra that fits and supports correctly. Often the breast area on a woman of this thin body structure is basically just the round implant itself with very little tissue covering it.
The Bottom Line
  • Augmented breasts need higher support than natural breasts because the dense nonchanging implants put undue strain on the body’s supportive ligaments. The bigger the implants, the bigger the strain, and potential for sagging or slippage from the breast pocket.
  • Augmented breasts can have more nipple protrusion than natural breasts, so a sports bra that offers full coverage in the nipple area will likely make you feel most comfortable.
  • Augmented breasts are often disproportionate to the rest of a women’s body, making it difficult to wear a bra sized small, medium, large. Your sports bra should securely support your breasts, and snuggly fit the width of your torso.
I hope this info is helpful to keep in mind when you’re sports bra shopping, and perhaps even deciding on an implant size.
  • Lauri Hersh on February 14, 2012

    Breast implants can be considered as an investment, as these can boost the confidence and self-esteem of a woman. And you don’t need to have particularly large implants. You can opt for more natural sizes. In the end, though, it all boils down to the preference of a person. If larger seems better, then larger is the way to go, and vice versa.

  • Genina Diaz on March 9, 2012

    This helps a lot because breast implants are not cheap. Before venturing on having the boobies done, it is helpful that you know that your nipple sensation will change. It makes me feel better on what to expect after the surgery. Thank you. ^_^

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