Breast lift at a glance
- A breast lift is a surgical procedure to reshape and support overall breast contour by removing excess skin while tightening surrounding tissue.
- A breast lift does not change the size of breasts, but is often combined with a breast augmentation or reduction.
- Recovery period after surgery lasts several weeks before the patient can resume all regular activities. Most patients can return to work after a week.
- Results are long lasting, but gravity and age will continue to affect the position of the breast.
What is a breast lift?
A breast lift, known as a mastopexy in medical terminology, is a procedure that elevates sagging breasts when excess skin causes the breasts to drop from their original position. The particular type of surgical procedure and technique used for a breast lift depend on the degree of sagging, the shape of the breast and other factors. These are issues discussed by patient and surgeon beforehand.
In general, a breast lift involves an incision, repositioning the underlying breast tissue, nipple and aerola, and suturing the incision. The patient is under either general or local anesthesia with sedation during the surgery.
Who is a good candidate for a breast lift?
Women may consider a breast lift when age, gravity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, rapid weight fluctuations or inherited influences have caused their breasts to drop below a desired height.
Women planning to have or breastfeed children should postpone a mastopexy until they will no longer bear children. Breastfeeding may reverse surgical results and benefits of a breast lift.
Breast lift procedure
After either general or local anesthesia is administered, the surgeon makes the initial incision point. There are numerous options for incision points, patterns and techniques that depend on the breast shape and size, the degree of sagging, areola size, as well as skin elasticity and the amount of excess tissue.
Incision point options
- The lollipop incision: this incision includes the area surrounding the areola and vertically down to the breast crease. Recommended for women with moderate sagging, the lollipop incision produces less scarring than some other incisions.
- The donut incision: or periareolar incision, circumvents the areola and is most recommended for women with mild to moderate sagging.
- The anchor incision: an incision around the areola, vertically down from the breast crease then horizontally along the breast crease. This is usually reserved for women with the most severe sagging, and the anchor incision produces the most scarring of all incisions.
After the incision, the surgeon reshapes the breast by lifting the underlying breast tissue. The nipple and areola are then repositioned to the desired height and location. If excess breast skin and tissue exists, it is removed to compensate for elasticity loss.
Once the surgeon completes the reshaping, he or she will tighten the remaining skin and close the incisions with sutures. Layered deeply within the breast tissue, they support the new breast shape and contour. Patients will likely be prescribed a supportive compression garment immediately following the surgery.
Some surgeons also offer a crescent lift. In this procedure, the surgeon removes a crescent-shaped skin patch above the areola. The crescent lift cannot produce as dramatic results as other procedures and incision points. Surgeons typically perform this type of lift along with breast augmentation.
Recovery from a breast lift procedure
Patients will likely feel achy and stiff in their chest for up to five days following a breast lift. After about a week, patients will begin moving around with more ease and comfort. Patients should sleep at an incline the first few days after surgery in order to reduce and manage swelling.
Women who receive a breast lift commonly return to work after a week. Stitches are removed in stages over three to four weeks. Patients resume exercise and activities at varying times, but typically can perform mild forms of exercise after several weeks. Breasts may require some time to reform into a more natural shape.
Patients should immediately report any severe discomfort and pain to their surgeon.
Risks and considerations of a breast lift
Mastopexy risks are similar to other cosmetic procedures and include bleeding, infection and adverse reactions to anesthesia. In some instances, patients lose some or all sensation in their nipple area for differing amounts of time (sometimes up to a year). The scars from a breast lift procedure continue to diminish over time, but they never fully disappear.