Breast Lift or Mastopexy
Enhancing your appearance with a breast lift
A woman’s breasts often change over time, losing their youthful shape and firmness.
These changes and loss of skin elasticity can result from:
- Weight fluctuations
Also known as mastopexy, a breast lift raises and firms the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour.
Sometimes the areola becomes enlarged over time, and a breast lift will reduce this as well. A breast lift can rejuvenate your figure with a breast profile that is youthful and uplifted.
What it won’t do
Breast lift surgery does not significantly change the size of your breasts or round out the upper part of your breast. If you want your breasts to look fuller or smaller, you might want to consider either breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery.
Is it right for me?
Breast lift surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.
A breast lift is a good option for you if:
- You are physically healthy and maintain a stable weight
- You do not smoke
- You have realistic expectations
- You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts sag, have lost shape and volume
- Your breasts have a flatter, elongated shape or are pendulous
- When unsupported, your nipples fall below the breast crease
- Your nipples and areolas point downward
- You have stretched skin and enlarged areolas
- One breast is lower than the other
What to expect during your consultation
The success and safety of your breast lift procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.
Be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
- Family history of breast cancer and results of any mammograms or previous biopsies
Your surgeon may also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine your breasts, and may take detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality, placement of your nipples and areolas
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of breast lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
- Discuss the use of anesthesia during your breast lift
Preparing for surgery
Prior to surgery, you may beasked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Get a baseline mammogram before surgery and another one after surgery to help detect any future changes in your breast tissue
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special instructions youreceive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery
- Post-operative care and follow-up
Your plastic surgeon will also discuss where your procedure will be performed. Breast lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical center, outpatient / ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
You’ll need help
If your breast lift is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
What happens during breast lift surgery?
Your breast lift surgery can be achieved through a variety of incision patterns and techniques.
The appropriate technique for you will be determined based on:
- Breast size and shape
- The size and position of your areolas
- The degree of breast sagging
- Skin quality and elasticity as well as the amount of extra skin
Step 1 - Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 - The incision
There are three common incision patterns:
- Around the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease
- Around the areola, vertically down from the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease
Step 3 - Reshaping your breasts
After your doctor makes the incisions:
- The underlying breast tissue is lifted and reshaped to improve breast contour and firmness.
- The nipple and areola are repositioned to a natural, more youthful height.
- If necessary, enlarged areolas are reduced by excising skin at the perimeter.
- Excess breast skin is removed to compensate for a loss of elasticity.
Step 4 - Closing theincisions
After your breasts are reshaped and excess skin is removed, the remaining skin is tightened as the incisions are closed.
Some incision lines resulting from breast lift are concealed in the natural breast contours; however, others are visible on the breast surface. Incision lines are permanent, but in most cases will fade and significantly improve over time.
Sutures are layered deep within the breast tissue to create and support the newly shaped breasts. Sutures, skin adhesives and/or surgical tape may be used to close the skin.
Step 5 - See the results
The results of your breast lift surgery are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade.
Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you recover and realize the fulfillment of your goal for breasts which have been restored to a more youthful and uplifted position.
Important facts about the safety and risks of breast lift surgery
The decision to have breast lift surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
The risks include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Poor healing of incisions
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
- Anesthesia risks
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Skin discoloration, permanent pigmentation changes, swelling and bruising
- Damage to deeper structures – such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs – can occur and may be temporary or permanent
- Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
- Breast asymmetry
- Fatty tissue deep in the skin could die (fat necrosis)
- Fluid accumulation
- Excessive firmness of the breast
- Potential partial or total loss of nipple and areola
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Blood clots
- Pain, which may persist
- Possibility of revisional surgery
You should know that:
- Breast lift surgery can interfere with diagnostic procedures
- Breast and nipple piercing can cause an infection
- Breast lift surgery does not normally interfere with pregnancy, but if you are planning to have a baby, your breast skin may stretch and offset the results of mastopexy and you may have more difficulty breastfeeding after this operation
When you go home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about your breast lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
After your breast lift procedure is completed, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. You’ll need to wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal.
A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for your breasts following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, and when to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
The results will belong-lasting
The final results of your breast lift will appear over the next few months as breast shape and position continue to settle. Incision lines are permanent, but will continue to fade over time.
The results of your breast lift surgery will be long-lasting. Over time, your breasts can continue to change due to aging and gravity. But, you’ll be able to retain your new look longer if you:
- Maintain your weight
- Keep a healthy lifestyle
Questions to ask my plastic surgeon Use this checklist as a guide during your consultation
- Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
- What are your qualifications in Plastic Surgery?
- How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
- Is the surgical facility licensed by the government?
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- How will my ability to breastfeed be affected?
- How can I expect my lifted breasts to look over time?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my lifted breasts?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?