A breast lift (or mastoplexy), is a surgical procedure performed on women who have sagging breasts due to pregnancy, significant weight loss, or genetics. The procedure involves:
- Elevating the breast tissue to a higher position on the chest wall
- Repositioning the nipple-areolar area
- Tightening the skin
The procedure can involve the use of a breast implant to increase the volume of the breast. When there is mild sagging to the breasts, an implant alone can produce a rejuvenated appearance with only a minimal skin incision. Any incision, however, will result in permanent scars. The procedure can restore a more youthful-looking shape to the breast.
Who Is a Candidate?
Most patients are between 30 and 60 years of age and want to make aesthetic enhancements to their breasts. The procedure can be performed as part of a post-mastectomy breast reconstruction procedure to achieve better symmetry with the reconstructed opposite breast.
Breast Lift Risks
A breast lift will enhance the appearance of your breasts but is considered major surgery. You should think carefully about your specific expectations and communicate your goals to your plastic surgeon. How much volume your breasts maintain over time will depend on the type of procedure, your weight stability, and overall good health.
You may notice breast asymmetry following the surgery but that is normal, primarily because most women’s breasts are asymmetrical before surgery. Asymmetries that exist before surgery often will remain after surgery, although the overall look of the breasts is significantly enhanced.
In addition to the risks associated with anesthesia, loss of sensation to the nipple occurs in a small number of cases, and scars are common. Not every person is a candidate for this procedure, and your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to the surgery.
Before the Procedure
Your plastic surgeon will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your breasts including a detailed history of any personal or family breast problems, as well as a review of your mammograms.
Some of the specific instructions you’ll receive about preparing for surgery include:
- Smoking cessation
- Medications to avoid
- When to take your prescribed medications
- Proper washing techniques
- Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
You and your surgeon will discuss your concerns about your current breast shape, and your goals regarding the breast uplift procedure. Prior to the consultation, you should think carefully about your goals, such as your satisfaction levels with the volume of your breasts and whether you want to increase or decrease the volume.
Breast lift procedures can be performed in a variety of ways with different types of incisions. The approximate location of the incisions and scars will be outlined directly on your skin with a medical skin marker or on a diagram. For a small uplift, short incisions just around the nipple areola may be necessary. Sometimes they extend down the breast like a lollipop. The more the breasts sag, the more likely you will need longer incisions.
Your surgeon will perform a careful evaluation of your overall health as well as issues that could cause complications, such as:
- Your blood pressure
- Bleeding tendencies
- Blood clotting disorders
- History of adverse scar formation after previous surgeries
If you are having breast implants, your doctor will talk to you in great detail about the different types of implants, their proven safety record, and how long you can expect them to last.
Type of Anesthesia
Your doctor will recommend the best type of anesthesia for you, but local anesthesia along with intravenous sedation or general anesthesia can be used.
Where Will the Procedure Be Performed?
A breast lift usually is done in a hospital as outpatient surgery and you must be driven to and from the hospital by a friend or family member.
Immediate Postoperative Recovery
In most cases, patients will experience pain in the breast area for the first 24-48 hours. Some swelling of the breast tissues always occur, but it is usually gone within a month following surgery.
Most patients will be able to go out in public one or two days after surgery. Showering is permitted within the first several days. Vigorous physical activity is limited for four weeks following surgery.
A breast lift usually produces a rejuvenated, more youthful and attractive breast shape and overall breast appearance.