Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
Breast lift, or mastopexy is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts. Factors such as pregnancy, nursing, weight change, aging and gravity produce changes in the appearance of a woman’s breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and begin to sag.
Breast lift, or mastopexy is a surgery performed by plastic surgeons to raise and reshape sagging breasts. This operation can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin around the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume after pregnancy, breast implants inserted in conjunction with mastopexy can increase both firmness and size. The best candidates for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally stable women who have realistic expectations about what this type of surgery can accomplish.
Breast Lift Considerations:
- 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.
Breast Lift Options
There are several common techniques that may be utilized during a breast lift procedure. The size and shape of your breasts, size of your areolas, extent of sagging, and the desired outcome of the patient are factors that will help your surgeon determine the best technique for you. Incisions may be made in one of three ways:
- Around the areola.
- Vertically downward from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast.
- Horizontal beneath the breast and follows the natural curve of the breast crease.
When fuller, rounder breasts are the goal, a combination breast lift and breast augmentation surgery may be necessary. There are several methods available for breast augmentation, including saline and silicone implants, as well as autologous fat transfer. When smaller breasts are the goal, a combination breast lift and breast reduction may be recommended. During the breast lift procedure, extra breast tissue will be removed. The remaining tissue and skin will then be lifted and firmed. You and your surgeon will discuss which method is best for your desired outcome and individual circumstance.
What to Expect:
After a breast lift, your breasts will likely be covered with gauze and a surgical support bra. Small tubes might be placed at the incision sites in your breasts to drain any excess blood or fluid from the surgical sites. You will be able to move around normally; however, actions that involve lifting, straining, or strenuous exercise should be avoided until the breasts have completely healed. You may be instructed to sleep on your back to avoid pressure on your breasts. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed to help alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of infection. Sexual activity should be limited during the two weeks after surgery. Any surgical drains will be removed within a few days of surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. Generally, stitches will be removed in stages over a period of approximately three weeks, beginning at about one week after surgery. You may be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks, until the swelling and discoloration of your breasts diminish. Your breasts will be swollen and bruised for about two weeks. You’ll likely feel pain and soreness around the incisions, which will be red or pink for a few months. You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas. Sensation loss is usually temporary and may take weeks, months or even more than a year to return to normal. Your breasts may also require some time to assume a more natural shape. 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 one to two 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 scars will depend largely on your body’s ability to heal. Scarring is usually more extensive in smokers. 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 skin in-elasticity due to aging and gravity may make another procedure necessary to retain the desired results.
Each year thousands of women undergo successful breast lift surgery, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Significant complications from a breast lift are infrequent; however, make sure you understand what surgery involves, including possible risks, complications and follow-up care. Breast lift surgery poses various risks, including:
- Diminished sensitivity or permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or areas of breast skin.
- Irregularities or asymmetry in the shape and size of the breasts. (This could occur as a result of changes during the healing process, or surgery might not successfully correct pre-existing asymmetry).
- The areolas (the pigmented area around the nipples) may appear uneven.
- Rarely, the blood supply to the nipple or areola is interrupted during a breast lift. This can damage breast tissue in the area and lead to the partial or total loss of the nipple or areola.
- Rarely, poor healing can cause scars to become thick and wide.
- Difficulty breast-feeding.
Revisionary surgery may sometimes be helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly. Like any major surgery, a breast lift surgery poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. It’s also possible to have an allergic reaction to the surgical tape or other materials used during or after the procedure You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your surgeon, both before and after your breast lift surgery. If you have any concerns about the risks involved with the breast lift surgery, please consult your surgeon.