Breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical procedure performed to raise and reshape breasts that have sagged as a result of aging, pregnancy, weight loss, gravity or other factors. By trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissue, patients can achieve an uplifted, youthful breast contour. After surgery, the breasts are higher on the chest and firmer to the touch. The nipple and areola can also be repositioned or resized during this procedure to further enhance the appearance of the breast.
Since a breast lift does not change the shape or fullness of the breasts, many patients choose to combine this procedure with a breast augmentation or reduction in order to achieve their desired results.
Candidates for a Breast Lift
A breast lift is a safe and effective procedure for many women seeking to enhance the appearance of their drooping breasts, although there are certain restrictions on eligibility. The ideal candidates for a breast lift are women with:
- Sagging breasts
- Breasts that have lost shape or volume
- Breasts that are flat or elongated
- Nipples or areolas pointing downward
- One breast lower than the other
In addition to sagging breasts, it is also important for women considering this procedure to be in good overall health, maintain a stable weight and have realistic expectations for surgery. It is recommended that women still planning to have children postpone this procedure, as pregnancy and nursing can counteract the effects of a breast lift.
The Breast Lift Procedure
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia and usually takes one to three hours. Depending on the size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin, your surgeon will determine an appropriate incision approach for the procedure, which may include:
- Two rings around the areola in a doughnut shape, which is ideal for women with small breasts and minimal scarring
- Around the areola and down to the breast crease in a lollipop shape
- A lollipop shape with an additional incision along the breast crease for an anchor shape, ideal for breasts with significant sagging
After the incisions are made, breast tissue is removed and reshaped to achieve the desired breast contour. The nipple and areola may be moved higher on the breast or resized as well. Finally, any excess skin is trimmed to create a tighter, more defined appearance. When the breast lift is complete, the incisions are closed with stitches and tend to heal well.
After a breast lift, patients will likely experience bruising, soreness and swelling for a few days. The breasts will likely be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a surgical bra for about a week, followed by a support bra worn continuously for a month. Any stitches will be removed after one or two weeks. Most patients will be able to return to work within a week, although exercise and other strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month. Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for your individual recovery.
The results of a breast lift are visible immediately after surgery and will continue to improve as swelling subsides and scars fade. Most patients who maintain realistic expectations and thoroughly discussed their goals prior to surgery are satisfied with the look of their lifted breasts. While results are not permanent, they will allow patients to enjoy a younger-looking appearance for many years to come.
Risks Associated with a Breast Lift
Although a breast lift is considered a safe procedure for ideal candidates, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgical procedure, which may include bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia or permanent scarring. These risks can be reduced by choosing an experienced surgeon to perform your procedure and by following the surgeon’s instructions before and after treatment.