What is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift, or mastopexy, is designed to recreate the appearance of firm and more youthful breasts. Whether from childbirth and breastfeeding, changes in weight, gravity, or the natural aging process, a woman’s breasts will change over time. These factors can result in sagging breasts losing their elasticity and firmness, a condition also known as ptosis. Depending on the specific problems to be addressed, a breast lift procedure may consist of one or multiple discrete procedures:
- Tighten skin to eliminate the sagging effect.
- Reduce the size of the areola to keep them in proportion to the newly shaped breasts.
- Move the nipple higher up on the breast so it is approximately even with the lower crease of the breast.
In some cases, when there has been significant loss of breast tissue, a breast augmentation can be performed in conjunction with the breast lift. A breast lift won’t significantly change the size of your breasts. However, a breast lift can be done in combination with breast augmentation or breast reduction.
- LENGTH: 2 to 2.5 hours
- ANESTHESIA: General – Usually Outpatient Surgery
- SIDE EFFECTS: Temporary bruising, swelling, discomfort, numbness, dry breast skin. Permanent scars.
- RISKS: Thick, wide scars; skin loss; infection. Unevenly positioned nipples. Permanent loss of feeling in nipples or breast.
- RECOVERY: Tasks of daily living may be resumed immediately. Back to non-strenuous work (no lifting greater than 10 lbs) in 5 to 7 days. No strong pushing, pulling or repetitive upper body movements for 3 weeks.
- EXERCISE: Resume low impact activities at 2 – 3 weeks (1/3 duration of exercise, repetitions, amount of weight and pulse rate). Moderate impact activity @ 4 – 6 weeks. Full intensity including high impact (running, horse back riding, high impact aerobics) @ 8 weeks.
- FADING & SCAR IMPROVEMENT: 6 to 24 months
- SWELLING: Moderate/Significant 4 weeks, Subtle/Mild 2 to 3 months, all of which are dependent upon extent of procedure(s).
- DURATION of RESULTS: Variable. Breast size may fluctuate with hormonal shifts, weight changes, and pregnancy.
- OFFICE VISITS: 1st post op visit 5 – 7 days / 2nd Visit 10 – 14 days / Anticipated # of office visits: 4 to 5 the first 3 months then yearly.
- GARMENT WORN: Support as needed for 6 weeks.
- PAIN MEDS: Ibuprofen or Narcotics as needed
A breast lift can be performed at any age, however it is recommend that women wait until breast development has stopped, a stable weight is achieved, and no future pregnancies are planned. Pregnancy and breast-feeding may have significant and unpredictable effects on the size and shape of your breasts. A breast lift can be performed on breasts of any size. Women with smaller sagging breasts will likely have longer lasting results. Larger breasts are heavier, which makes them more likely to sag again. The following conditions could indicate that breast lift surgery is right for you:
- Have breasts that lack substance or firmness.
- Have breasts that are loose and sagging (breasts are flatter and longer).
- Have one breast that falls lower than the other.
- Have nipples and areolas that point downward (fall below your breast creases).
- Have areolas stretched out of proportion to your breasts.
During the consultation, you will be asked about your desired breast shape and size. Our surgeons will discuss with you how your nipples and areolas will be repositioned. You should mention anything else about your breasts that you would like to see improved. This will help us to understand your expectations and determine whether those expectations can be met. Depending on your age, or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, we may also recommend a baseline mammogram before surgery. Following a breast lift, you will still be able to perform self breast-examinations. Breast lift surgery will not affect your risk of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding is a consideration, as well. Since the milk ducts and nipples are left intact, breast lift surgery will not typically affect your ability to breastfeed, however some women might have difficulties producing enough milk. If you have concerns about breastfeeding after a breast lift surgery, you should discuss this with your surgeon.
The breast lift procedure will leave some scarring along the incision sites. While scars are permanent, they will soften and become thin and white within a few years. The scarring will generally follow along the natural lines of the breast and can usually be hidden by bras and bathing suits. The extent of the scarring will depend largely on your body’s ability to heal as well as the degree of lifting required.
The results from a breast lift should be long lasting. Once corrected, the breasts should remain relatively stable, assuming the patient’s weight does not fluctuate greatly. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight can help you retain your results. Over time normal loss of skin elasticity due to aging and gravity may make another procedure necessary to retain the desired results.