As women get older, they lose elasticity in their skin, and their breasts begin sagging and becoming less shapely. Breast lift surgery (mastopexy), is a plastic surgery procedure that can restore youthful shape and firmness to the breasts. DocShop can provide the fundamental information on mastopexy and help you find a skilled cosmetic surgeon in your area specializing in this procedure.
A breast lift procedure consists of an incision being made in the breast, followed by the removal of excess skin. The remaining skin and nipple are repositioned to give the breasts a firm, perky look that can restore a youthful appearance to a woman’s overall figure. The size and locations of the incisions that are made depends on the breast lift surgery technique used. Learn more about preparing for breast lift surgery, how the breast lift procedure is performed, and what to expect after breast lift surgery.
Preparing for the Procedure
Once you have chosen a surgeon to perform your breast lift procedure, you will attend a pre-operative consultation to discuss your surgery. During this consultation you will discuss which surgical techniques will most effectively achieve your goals, and your surgeon will be able to answer any questions you may have about the breast lift procedure. For the best results, it's important to discuss your expectations and goals openly and honestly with your doctor before breast lift surgery.
Your surgeon will give you pre-operative guidelines to follow before breast lift procedure. Typically, your doctor may advise you to:
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol for two weeks prior to your surgery
- Stop taking certain vitamins and herbal supplements
- Discontinue the use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or anti-inflammatory medication
To ensure your breasts are in good health prior to surgery, your doctor may also require that you have a mammogram before your breast lift procedure.
The Day of the Surgery
Although breast lift surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure, it is important to have transportation arranged in advance. Because you will be sedated throughout surgery, you will be unable to drive. A friend or relative should be on hand to ensure you arrive safely home. If possible, ask someone to stay with you for the first 24 to 48 hours following your surgery.
Following a breast lift surgery procedure, you should expect some discomfort, including swelling, bruising, and possible itching. The pain should diminish quickly, just a few days after surgery.
Major complications are extremely rare after breast lift surgery; however, some pain can be expected in the days following a breast lift procedure. Mastopexy patients will need to arrange for someone to drive them home after surgery, as the sedation will be wearing off, and patients will not be allowed to drive themselves. They may have difficulty bending for a few days and should avoid lifting heavy objects for three to four weeks. Following breast lift surgery, patients should expect to take at least a week off work and should be prepared to wear a support bra over gauze bandages during their breast lift recovery period.
General discomfort after a breast lift procedure is typically minor. Consider having someone help at home for a few days, as the ability to lift and bend will be limited. Following the breast lift procedure, pain can usually be treated with over-the-counter painkillers or medication prescribed by a doctor. Patients experiencing extreme pain should contact their doctor immediately, as this may be a sign of breast lift complications.
Swelling and Bruising
After your breast lift surgery, your breasts may be swollen and tender with bruises around the incision sites. The pain should clear up within a couple days, and the swelling should go down within one to two weeks. Bruising around incisions will disappear in seven to ten days.
Complications following a breast lift procedure are uncommon; however, at times there may be temporary loss of feeling or heightened sensation around the nipple and areola. This will generally dissipate after a few days. Because the surgeon will not be removing the nipple and areola from the breast mass during the breast lift procedure, there is generally little concern for permanent loss of feeling. Although this is one of the small risks of breast lift surgery, rarely is the loss of feeling or altered sensation permanent after breast lift surgery.
Following the breast lift procedure, there may be some itching and redness along the healing incisions. Those who experience itchiness should apply an antibiotic ointment and avoid scratching the area.
Cosmetic surgeons are often trying new incision techniques to reduce scarring following a breast lift procedure. Currently, the major drawback of a mastopexty is the resulting scars on the breast. If your surgeon utilizes the standard anchor-shaped breast lift surgery procedure, you will have a circular scar around the areola, a vertical scar below the nipple, and a scar that extends along the breast crease. The doughnut mastopexy incision leaves only a circular scar around the areola and nipple. Although the prominence of breast lift scars will diminish with the passing of time, patients should understand that the scars will be permanent. Most patients find that the benefits of a breast lift outweigh the negative appearance of scars and are pleased with their final breast lift results.
Am I a Candidate?
Women often seek a breast lift after experiencing significant weight loss, pregnancy, or aging, which can all cause breasts to begin sagging. Find out more about the general requirements for undergoing mastopexy and discover if you might benefit from a breast lift.
Drooping breasts may cause you to wonder if breast lift surgery can help. Although mastopexy is not for everyone, many women have benefited from the procedure. Determine if you are a good candidate for a breast lift.
Ideal breast lift candidates are women who are seeking a remedy for drooping breasts. It is important to have realistic expectations about the results of breast lift surgery. Although a breast lift can be performed on any size breasts, women with smaller breasts seem to attain the most benefits from mastopexy.
In general, a mastopexy candidate should be a woman who:
- Is over the age of 18.
- Has drooping breasts (breasts with stretched skin and less volume than in the past).
- Is physically healthy and emotionally stable.
- Is not pregnant or breastfeeding (and does not plan to get pregnant).
- Does not have plans to loss excessive amounts of weight.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view breast lift before and after photos.
Photo credit: James P. Wire, MD
Breast Lift after Pregnancy
Many women begin to consider a breast lift after they have children, since pregnancy and breastfeeding can turn once firm breasts into drooping breasts. It is recommended to postpone mastopexy until after you are finished having children.
Although breast lift surgery does not hinder a woman from becoming pregnant, future pregnancies could cause additional stretching of breast skin and alter breast lift results. By waiting to have a mastopexy, you increase the chance that your breast lift results will last longer.
In most cases, mastopexy does not affect the ability to breastfeed. However, the inability to breastfeed could occur after surgery and is listed among potential breast lift complications.
- RELATED: Mommy makeover treatments combine several procedres and treatments to help counteract the effects of pregnancy
Breast Lift with Augmentation
In addition to stretched skin, drooping breasts may have lost additional volume due to tissue loss. In such cases, a mastopexy with augmentation may produce better results than a breast lift alone. Breast implants inserted during a mastopexy procedure can fill missing volume and create fuller breasts.
Breast Lift after Massive Weight Loss
Massive weight loss can give you a new lease on life. It can also leave you with drooping breasts due to fat loss. Once you have achieved your goal weight (or have come close to it), a breast lift is an option to restore firmness and shape to your breasts. To avoid needing a second surgery, a mastopexy should be postponed if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight.
Because your breasts are not the only areas on your body to accumulate excess skin after a sizeable weight loss, in addition to a breast lift, you should discuss additional procedures including a body lift procedure, tummy tuck (also known as abdominoplasty), or other post bariatric surgeries with your surgeon.
The greatest benefit of a mastopexy procedure is the transformation of drooping breasts into firmer breasts. This in turn can have a tremendous positive impact on the patient’s self-esteem because their bust line will look more youthful, certain clothing will fit better, and in cases of patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, the breast lift will add the finishing touches to a trim, fit new figure. Learn more about the potential benefits of breast lift surgery.
Weight loss, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and aging can cause breasts to sag or droop, hindering a woman’s self-confidence. Breast lift surgery improves the position of the breasts and creates confidence in women who once felt embarrassed or ashamed of their bust lines.
Breast lift benefits are not simply limited to physical improvements. Many women who have their breasts lifted and reshaped in a perkier and more youthful-looking position find the surgery emotionally rewarding and well-worth the time commitment and price tag.
Correct Drooping Breasts
Drooping, also known as ptosis, is commonly caused by the stretching of the skin and loss of volume that can be the result of extensive weight loss, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or simply the aging process. Breast lift surgery is designed to improve the look of sagging and drooping breasts by removing excess skin and lifting the inner breast tissue to create fuller, younger looking breasts.
A breast lift is primarily used to correct drooping breasts or improve the shape or symmetry of the breasts. A breast lift with implants can further enhance the volume of the breasts.
Restore Youthful Appearance
Youthful looking breasts have volume and rest high on the chest. As we age, the skin begins to stretch and volume is lost, creating a droopy look which occurs faster after breastfeeding or excessive weight loss. By tightening and lifting the breast, breast lift results in a perkier, more youthful appearance. Many women report that their breasts look years younger after breast lift surgery.
Increase Clothing Options
Many women who are unhappy with the appearance of their breasts find shopping for clothes frustrating and discouraging. They may avoid wearing fitted clothing or wear items that hide their bodies. The firmer and shapelier physique that is possible through breast lift creates new clothing options for many women who undergo the procedure. In many cases, they feel comfortable wearing types of clothing that they were unable to wear before their breast lift. They may find that bras and clothing fit them better and can often wear fitted clothing with more confidence.
Extensive weight loss, breastfeeding, and the normal aging process can cause breasts to loose their volume and sag, causing some women to lose confidence in the way they look. For women who are unhappy with the appearance of their breasts due to sagging or drooping, a breast lift can improve their self-confidence by creating shapelier, younger looking breasts. Many women who have had breast lift surgery find that they experience a positive change in their overall quality of life as a result of their improved self-esteem and no longer feeling self-conscious about their appearance.
Breast Lift Surgical Techniques
Surgeons can choose from several breast lift techniques depending upon the specific needs of their patient. They vary according to the incision pattern used. The standard (anchor) breast lift surgery involves an incision along the underside of the breast and along the crease where it meets the chest; the doughnut mastopexy involves an incision made around the nipple; the laser bra lift, a new technique that employs a laser instead of a scalpel, uses the patient’s excess tissue to create a permanent bra-like support system beneath the breast. The method of breast lift used depends on the size of the patient's breasts and the extent to which they are sagging. Your doctor will help you determine which technique will be most beneficial.
"Doughnut mastopexy" is a type of breast lift surgery that involves less skin removal and results in a significantly faster recovery time than breast lift surgery performed with the standard “anchor” technique. The scarring from doughnut mastopexy occurs around the circumference of the nipple and areola, and is often less noticeable than the vertical scars from the standard technique. It should be noted that the doughnut technique may not be a good option for women with larger breasts.
Laser Bra Lift
The laser bra breast lift is an exciting new alternative to traditional mastopexy. It provides a longer-lasting solution for patients with sagging breasts. A laser breast lift uses the same laser technology that doctors have used for years in facial plastic surgery. During a traditional breast lift surgery, the skin removed during the procedure is discarded. By contrast, the new laser bra breast lift makes use of that excess skin to add support to the underside of the breast. Most women of all breast sizes are candidates for this breast lift technique.
When performing breast lift surgery, doctors most often use the standard anchor-shaped incision, which leaves some permanent scarring on the breast. Currently, some doctors are exploring the use of other incision techniques and alternative methods that reduce scars and prolong the results of the procedure such as the laser bra breast lift. However, the standard anchor technique has been proven to reduce sag and droopiness on the lower half of the breast and create rounder, perkier breasts. Most women are good candidates for this procedure, although women with smaller, saggy breasts will be the ideal candidates.
Find an Experienced Plastic Surgeon through DocShop
There are many things to consider before undergoing breast lift surgery, including the risks and benefits of mastopexy and the costs associated with breast lifts. It is important to meet with a skilled cosmetic surgeon in order to discuss treatment options and ensure that you make an informed decision about surgery. DocShop is your online resource for important procedural information and can also help you find an experienced cosmetic surgeon in your area.