Also known as mastopexy, a breast lift raises the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support new breast contour. Breast lifts have grown 70% since 2000, as new statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show. A breast lift can rejuvenate the figure with a breast profile that is more uplifted and youthful.
Women’s breasts change over time, losing their firmness and shape. Most often, these changes and loss of skin elasticity result from:
- gravity heredity
- weight fluctuations
This type of surgery does not significantly change the size of your breasts or round out the upper part of the breast. For fuller breasts, consider breast lift and breast augmentation surgery.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?
You may be a good breast lift candidate if:
- one breast is lower than the other
- you are physically healthy
- you do not smoke
- you maintain a stable weight
- your breasts have a flatter, elongated shape or are pendulous
- your nipples and areolas point downward
- your nipples fall below the breast crease when unsupported
Risks and Safety Information
Before surgery, you will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications. Breast lift surgery risks include:
- anesthesia risks
- bleeding or hematoma formation
- breast asymmetry
- breast contour and shape irregularities
- cardiac and pulmonary complications
- changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
- deep vein thrombosis
- fat necrosis deep in the skin
- fluid accumulation
- poor healing of incisions
- possibility of revision surgery
- potential partial or total loss of nipple and areola
All risks will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Breast Lift Consultation
During your consultation you should be prepared to discuss the following:
- current medications you are taking, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- if you have a family history of breast cancer
- medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- previous surgeries
- the results of any mammograms or previous biopsies
- your surgical goals
Also, during the consultation, your surgeon may also evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors. He or she will also examine your breasts and may take detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality, and placement of your nipples and areolas. Your surgeon may also:
- discuss likely outcomes of breast lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
- discuss the use of anesthesia during the breast lift
- discuss your options
- recommend a course of treatment
- take photographs
It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether it is excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress.
How Do I Prepare for Surgery?
Before surgery, your doctor will ask you to:
- avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements (they can increase bleeding)
- get a baseline mammogram before surgery and another one after surgery to help detect any future changes in the breast tissue
- get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- stop smoking
- take certain medication or adjust your current medications
Procedure Steps, Recovery and Results
Your breast lift procedure can be achieved through a variety of incision patterns and techniques. The technique for your surgery will be determined based on:
- breast size and shape
- skin quality and elasticity, as well as the amount of extra skin
- the degree of breast sagging
- the size and position of your areolas
Step 1- Anesthesia
Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you. Intravenous sedation and general anesthesia are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure.
Step 2- The Incision
The surgeon will perform an incision to perform the breast lift. There are 3 common incision patterns:
- around the areola
- 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 the Breasts
After the incision is made, the surgeon will:
- lift the underlying breast tissue and reshape it to improve firmness and contour
- reposition the nipple and areola to a natural, more youthful height
- reduce enlarged areolas if the case, by excising skin at the perimeter
- remove excess skin to compensate for a loss of elasticity
Step 4- Closing the Incisions
Some incision lines resulting from breast lift surgery are concealed in the natural breast contours, but some are visible on the breast surface. Incision lines are permanent, but will fade in most cases and improve over time.
During recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is completed. In order to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal, you will need to wear an elastic bandage or support bra. Also, a small and 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 include advice on how to care for your breasts after surgery, when to follow up with your plastic surgeon, specific concerns and medications to aid healing.
Results are immediately visible and over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. The final results of your breast lift will appear over the next few months, as breast shape and position continue to settle. You will be able to retain your new look longer if you maintain your weight and keep a healthy lifestyle.