Disclaimer: always talk to your physician before starting any routine, even if it’s a simple massage, especially if you have any chronic or acute disease, are undergoing breast-cancer treatment or are post-surgery
Get more hands-on
“When it comes to breast health, lymphatic drainage can be a great ally,” says Miami-based massage therapist Camila Perez. Lymph nodes are located around your breasts and carry a fluid called lymph, which helps to fight off illness. Therefore, stimulating lymphatic drainage in the breast area is an easy way to maintain balance, release stagnation and reduce any swelling. The key to its success, however, is in the technique. Most of the breast tissue drains towards the armpits and a small portion towards the clavicle. “I recommend using a pumping movement, working with some light pressure and then releasing the breast gently, allowing it to return to its normal position,” advises Perez. Remember, when stimulating the lymphatic system, always begin massaging the lymph-node region on the neck and the collarbone first – this will awaken the entire system.
Try the at-home lymphatic technique
“This four-step technique is also a great way of self-examination, making you aware of any changes as soon as they may happen,” says Perez.
1. Using an oil for slip, put your hand on your armpit and push inward and upward. Go deep into the armpit. Pump upward and release. Do this ten times.
2. Hold your entire breast and move it upward toward the armpit. If your breasts are large, this may take more than one hand position. Do this ten times.
3. Pump your breast directly inwards toward the chest wall. Do this five times.
4. Holding your breast stable with one hand, pump the upper, inner quadrant of your breast towards your collarbone with the other hand. Do this five times.
Start your skincare from the nipple up
“Like the face, your décolleté and breasts tend to show early signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin,” says New York-based dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman. Breast skin (and chest skin overall) is thinner and more delicate than the skin on other parts of the body, and therefore more prone to aging – especially as people tend to focus on their faces and neglect to give the same care to other areas of the body. “Starting in their twenties (when we start to lose collagen and elastin), I tell my patients to apply the same skincare products on these areas that they apply to their faces,” explains Dr. Engelman. “The key at any age is to apply your facial skincare products to the décolleté as well, or at least rub excess product there – prevention is easier than correction.”
Be savvy with your skincare ingredients
Since the skin around your décolleté and breasts is thinner, more sensitive, and highly at risk of premature aging, it’s best to use nourishing, antioxidant ingredients. Think retinols and peptides, which strengthen the skin barrier, and boost collagen and elastin production; hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump skin; and antioxidants like vitamins C and E to prevent and combat free-radical damage (especially if you aren’t diligent about protecting this area with SPF). “Moisturizing and applying nourishing anti-aging ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants is crucial,” explains Dr. Engelman. “We tend to think of retinol as something that’s meant just for the face, but you can also apply retinol products on the décolleté and breasts to prevent and reduce signs of aging.”
Add a humidifier to your anti-aging arsenal
Nighttime is a critical time for skin to repair and rebuild, but we also lose a lot of moisture while we sleep due to transepidermal water loss. This can exacerbate the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging, causing you to wake up looking dehydrated and therefore older – and this includes the breast and décolleté area. “As a dermatologist, I’m a fan of using a humidifier at night (Canopy is my go-to brand), because it releases pure, hydrated air, so you can hygienically and effortlessly maintain an optimal hydration level while you sleep, and wake up with more youthful-looking skin,” says Dr. Engelman.
Check your breasts as part of your self-care routine
“I recommend you check your breasts once a month,” advises Dr. Zoe Williams, supporter of Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign. “Start by looking at your breasts from the front, and then look from both sides. You’re looking for any change in shape, size and contour. You’re also looking for changes in the skin – any redness, soreness, flaking or puckering. Then, move on to feeling the breast – you can use the flat part of your three middle fingers for this. Try patting or circling, whatever feels most comfortable. However, remember to ensure you feel the entire breast – nipple, chest and armpit. You’re feeling for lumps, thickening or anything that feels unusual for you.”