I am in my late 20s with no children. Over the past couple of years I have noticed that my breasts have become very saggy. I exercise regularly but to no apparent effect. I am contemplating a silicone implant to make them firmer and more uplifted. I would appreciate your advice.

Breasts rely mostly on structural fat for their size and shape. They contain no muscles themselves but are supported by ligaments, a form of connective tissue, which connect to the pectoral muscles on the chest wall. Exercise will do nothing to alter the actual size and shape of the breasts. It can, however, firm the pectoral muscles, possibly making the breasts seem somewhat firmer, larger and perhaps more uplifted, but this is not usually to any great extent. Connective tissue in the breast, as elsewhere on the body, loses firmness and elasticity as we age so the breasts will eventually droop. Those who went bra-less a few years ago most likely stretched the suspensory ligament substantially and the breasts can never return to their original shape. Be careful to wear a good support bra, especially with medium to large breasts.

Silicone implants are placed either above or below the wall of the pectoral muscles. The surgery takes two to three hours and stitches are removed in approximately one week. Bruising and discomfort will be present for a few weeks and complete recovery will take two to three months. Complications could include hardening of the implant due to the formation of scar tissue around it. It poses no health problems but you might eventually end up with breasts that are very firm.

Many plastic surgeons agree that it would be an error to use a silicone implant in a sagging breast as it would just sag more with the additional weight. A better solution is to have the “skin brassiere,” the skin above the breast, lifted or tightened to uplift its appearance. Discuss these procedures with a plastic surgeon to find the best solution for you.

I am 61 years old and my hair has turned white-grey after being dark. I dislike the yellow shades in my hair but am not interested in dying or tinting it. I am healthy, take no medication, do not smoke nor work in a smoky environment. Can you recommend a means of dealing with this problem?

The yellowing of hair can result from the minerals in water, especially hard water, and from air pollution. For some people, the problem stems from the over-bleaching and tinting of the hair, although this is obviously not your problem. Generally a perm will take out the yellow color.

You could try using a water-color rinse, which is not a permanent tint or dye. Some will last only one shampoo while others may last several shampoos. There are some shampoos available that are especially designed, for greying hair and can help keep the color pure. Ask your hairdresser to recommend one of these to you.

I have some age spots on my face and chest area. I am particularly worried about these as I am only 36.

One does not necessarily have to be old to get age or liver spots. They are the result of a high concentration of the pigment melanin, and form after repeated exposure to the sun. These patches are flat and smooth in texture and can be light or dark brown. They are usually found on the hands, face, chest and upper shoulders – areas where sun exposure may have been more concentrated.

Some bleaching creams containing hydroquinone or resorcinol can lighten the pigmentation after regular use over a long period of time (sometimes two to three times a day for several months). It seems that these ointments work best on skins that have suffered pigmentation problems through injury or as the result of disease, and are somewhat less effective on a more normal skin.

By using a suncreen on exposed areas both summer and winter and avoiding the sun as much as possible, the spots may fade very slowly.

NOTE: If you go out of doors while wearing a bleaching cream, avoid sun exposure as a chemical reaction could make the spots worse.

I want to start taking better care of my nails. Could you please tell me what would be the advantages of using a cuticle cream and do I really need to use a base coat before the polish?

Cuticle creams are designed to soften and nourish the cuticle and to help prevent the formation of hangnails by preventing drying and splitting. They replace some of the moisture to the nail and cuticle that may have been lost through exposure to detergents, chemicals, paper, nail polish remover, etc. Mostly they are made to be used overnight only, although some can be used in the morning as well. To apply, massage in using gentle, circular movements. This action is also beneficial to the circulation.

These types of products should not be confused with cuticle removers which are applied to the cuticle during a manicure treatment and are designed to help soften and dissolve any cuticle which adheres to the nail plate.

A base coat should be applied before any colored polish. It will prevent the color from staining the nail and smooth out any ridges so the polish will adhere more smoothly.