A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, raises the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour. Sometimes the areola becomes enlarged over time, and a breast lift will reduce this as well.
By removing excess, stretched out skin, reshaping the breast tissue, and raising the nipple & areola into a more forward position, a better breast shape might be achieved. Stretched, large areolae can also be reduced during breast lift surgery,
A woman’s breasts often change over time, losing their youthful shape and firmness. These changes and loss of skin elasticity can result from:
- Weight fluctuations
Common Reasons Women Choose Breast Lift Surgery:
- To restore a better breast shape following pregnancy & breastfeeding. Pregnancy can bring some unwelcome changes to the breasts, often leaving them stretched and sagging. A breast lift, with or without implants, can help undo these changes and restore a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
- To improve breast contour after significant weight loss. Losing weight often means losing breast volume.
There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to get a general idea about how a breast lift might help improve your breast shape.
- Do my nipples seem to point downward? As skin at the base of the breast stretches out and begins to sag, the weight of breast tissue will pull the nipple downward. A breast lift will reposition the breast tissue so the nipples are facing forward.
- Does the nipple/areola sit below the crease underneath my breast? One trait cosmetic surgeons frequently look for when evaluating a breast lift candidate is the position of the nipple/areola in relation to the inframammary fold, or crease beneath the breast. Try this test: slide a plain sheet of paper underneath your breast (no bra) so it sits against the breast crease. When looking in the mirror, do your nipples sit below the top edge of the paper? If so, this is a good indication that you have enough sagging to warrant a breast lift.
- Am I happy with my breast size when wearing a bra? A breast lift alone will not significantly change the size of your breasts. It can help your breasts look fuller, rounder, and better in a bra, but if you would like your breasts to be larger or smaller, a breast lift in conjunction with a breast augmentation or reduction may be the right option for you.
- Are my breasts asymmetrical or unusually shaped? Since breast lift surgery reshapes the breast tissue as well as lifts sagging breasts, this procedure can be very effective in improving breast symmetry, and surgeon can use breast lift techniques to restore a more normal, rounded shape to tuberous breasts.
What will my Breast Lift Incisions and Scars be Like?
These vary according to the type of incision your aesthetic surgeon suggests for you. Your surgeon can conceal some incision lines in natural breast contours, but others will be visible on the breast surface.
A common method of lifting the breasts involves three incisions:
• Around the aureolas
• Extending downward from the areolas to the breast creases
• Horizontally along the breast creases
Although incision lines are permanent, in most cases they will fade and significantly improve over time. Aesthetic plastic surgeons make every effort to place scars in hidden areas and minimize them, with the goal of achieving the desired results with the shortest possible scar.
Types of Breast Lifts
Cosmetic surgeons use a variety of incision techniques for breast lift surgery; the exact technique used will vary based on a patient’s existing breast tissue, the amount of excess skin to be removed, and her personal goals. The cosmetic surgeon will recommend the type of breast lift that will achieve optimal results with the least conspicuous scarring possible.
Crescent Lift: Minimal Scarring to Correct Minimal Sagging
Cosmetic surgeons may use the “crescent lift” technique for women who have a very small amount of sagging to correct. This involves a small incision running halfway around the top half of the edge of the areola. Usually, a crescent lift is only done when a patient is also having breast augmentation, and even in these cases the crescent incision type is less frequently used.
Peri-Areolar or Donut Lift: Corrects Mild Sagging with a Single Scar
Women who are experiencing mild sagging, yet still will benefit from a breast lift, are often good candidates for a peri-areolar lift. This involves a circular incision running around the edge of the areola, and like the crescent lift, is commonly performed in conjunction with breast augmentation. This lift can also be effective in helping reduce areola size. The resulting scar traces the edge of the areola.
Vertical or Lollipop Lift: Corrects Moderate Sagging & Provides More Extensive Reshaping
This type of breast lift is commonly used, as it allows a cosmetic surgeon to remove excess skin and reshape the entire breast with modest, easily hidden scars. A vertical lift involves 2 incisions: one around the edge of the areola, and one running vertically from the bottom of the areola to the inframammary fold, creating a “lollipop” shape.
Inverted T or Anchor Lift: Dramatic Reshaping to Correct Extensive Sagging
If you have considerable sagging, pendulous breasts, an anchor lift, which allows a cosmetic surgeon to remove a significant amount of excess skin and sagging tissues, may yield the best results. This technique involves 3 incisions: one around the edge of the areola, one vertically from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease, and one along the inframammary fold, hidden in the breast crease. Your cosmetic surgeon may also use this technique if you are having a with lift. While the anchor lift comes with some visible scarring, these typically will fade significantly with proper care, and are easily hidden by a bikini top.
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss what you want to achieve. The surgeon will evaluate you as a breast lift candidate and clarify what procedures may benefit you most. The plastic surgeon will examine, measure and photograph your breasts for your medical record. The surgeon will consider:
- The current size and shape of your breasts.
- The breast size and shape that you desire.
- The quality and quantity of your breast tissue.
- The quality of your skin.
- The placement of your nipples and areolas.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your complete medical history. This will include information about:
- Previous surgeries, including breast biopsies (if any)
- Past and Present medical conditions.
- Allergies and current medications.
- Medical treatments you have received.
- Family history of breast cancer.
- Current mammogram results (if any)
If you think that you may want to become pregnant in the future, discuss this with your surgeon. Pregnancy can alter breast size in an unpredictable way and could affect the long-term results of your breast lift.
Based on your goals, physical characteristics and the surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
• An approach to your surgery, including the type of procedure or combination of procedures.
• The outcomes that you can anticipate.
• Associated risks and complications.
• What you can expect to experience after surgery.
• Show before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours and answer any questions.
Aftercare and Recovery
The surgeon will explain how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
• Drains, if they have been placed
• Normal symptoms you will experience
• Potential signs of complications
Immediately After Your Breast Lift
Generally, you can expect to be bandaged, wearing compression garments and you may have some surgical drains.
Recovery Time Frame After Breast Lift Surgery
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by the surgeon. This will include information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains, taking antibiotics and the level and type of activity that is safe. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The First Week
- The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short periods of time.
- After few days, you should be able to move about more comfortably.
- Avoid straining, bending and lifting since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding.
- You will probably be instructed to sleep on your back to avoid pressure on your breasts.
- Any surgical drains will be removed within a few days of surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed.
- For two to five days, your chest region may feel stiff and sore.
Two Weeks to Six Weeks
- After breast lift surgery it is often possible to return to work within a week or so, depending on your job.
- You should avoid excessive physical activity for at least the first two weeks following surgery. After that, be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next month.
- Avoid sexual activity for a minimum of two or three weeks, but the plastic surgeon may advise you to wait longer. After that, take care to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next couple of weeks.
- You may be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks, until the swelling and discoloration of your breasts diminish.
- Generally, the surgeon will use dissolvable stitches which will dissolve in approximately 6-8 weeks of time.
- You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas. This is usually temporary; however, it may take weeks, months or even more than a year before sensation returns to normal.
- Your breasts may require some time to assume a more natural shape.
- Incisions will initially be red or pink. They will remain this way for many months following surgery.
- In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks.
- You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. If you have severe pain, you should report it.
While at Home:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take pain medications as ordered by your doctor.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Take at least a week off from work.
- Abstain from intercourse for at least two, three weeks after the surgery.
- Check your temperature from time to time.
Avoid lifting anything over the head for about three to four weeks.
- Have a friend or a family member take care of your pets.
Getting back to normal is a gradual process. The Doctor gives the patient detailed instructions for resuming their normal activities.
The aim of this article is to give you a general information about the surgical intervention in question. You need to make more research about possible complications and risks of this selected procedure in order to make an informed decision. Please note that complications occur more frequently with patients who are obese, smoke, and have a history or lung or other chronic underlying medical conditions.
Smokers are recognized to have a significantly higher risk of post operative wound healing problems with a subsequently higher potential of infection as well as operative and post operative bleeding. Patients should discontinue smoking for two weeks before and two weeks after surgery. Although it helps to stop smoking before and after surgery, this does not completely eliminate the increased risks resulting from long term smoking. Smoking also has a long term adverse effect on the skin and ageing process.