Breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical procedure performed to raise and reshape breasts that have sagged as a result of aging, pregnancy, breast feeding, weight loss, gravity or other factors. By trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissue, patients can achieve an uplifted, more youthful breast contour. After surgery, the breasts are higher on the chest and generally firmer to the touch. The nipple and areola is also be repositioned and can be resized during this procedure to further enhance the appearance of the breast.
Since a breast lift does not change the size of the breasts and offers little improvement in the way of firmness, many women often choose to combine a breast lift procedure with a breast augmentation procedure. For women who already have larger breasts that sag, and who do want to be larger, rather than a standard breast lift, a mini-breast reduction, which includes a lift offers more firmness and longer lasting results, than a breast lift alone.
Candidates for Breast Lift
A breast lift is a safe and effective procedure for many women seeking to enhance the appearance of their drooping breasts, although there are certain restrictions on eligibility. The ideal candidates for a breast lift are women with:
- Sagging breasts
- Breasts that have lost shape or volume
- Breasts that are flat or elongated
- Nipples or areolas pointing downward
- One breast lower than the other
In addition to sagging breasts, it is also important for women considering this procedure to be in good overall health, maintain a stable weight and have realistic expectations for surgery. It is recommended that women still planning to have children postpone this procedure, as pregnancy and nursing can counteract or undo the effects of a breast lift.
Breast Lift Procedure
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia and usually takes one to three hours, and if combined with a breast augmentation, can take longer. Depending on the size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin, Dr. Bershof will determine an appropriate incision approach for the procedure:
This involves a removal of a quarter-moon or so shaped skin above the nipple areolar complex. A nipple lift lifts the nipple areola, not the breast.
This involves removal a circumferential skin around the entire areola and is a hybrid between a nipple lift and a breast lift. Depending upon the design of the skin excision, the nipple areola complex can be lifted and made smaller, and the skin envelope tightened somewhat. There is little actual lifting with a donut mastopexy, it is more of a tightening.
Tear Drop Mastopexy
This involves removal of skin around the nipple areola complex and down to the mammary crease in the shape of a tear drop (sometimes called a Sno-Cone Mastopexy). This can lift the nipple areola complex, lift the breast, make the areola smaller, and tighten the breast skin envelope. It is also called the Lollipop Mastopexy because the resulting incision is in the shape of a lollipop.
Key Hole Mastopexy
This involves removal of skin around the nipple areola complex, down towards the mammary crease and skin along the mammary crease in the shape of a keyhole that one might see in an old-fashion door. This is the most powerful of the breast lifts and can lift the nipple, lift the breast, make the areola smaller, and tighten the breast skin envelope. It is also called the Anchor Mastopexy because the resulting incision is in the shape of a ship's anchor.
Recovery from Breast Lift
After a breast lift, patients will likely experience bruising, soreness and swelling for a few days. The breasts will be in a surgical bra for about a week, followed by a support bra worn continuously for a 4-6 weeks. Stitches will be removed after one or two weeks. Most patients will be able to return to work within a week, although exercise and other strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month. Recovery might be a little longer if a breast augmentation is combined with the lift.
Results of a Breast Lift
The results of a breast lift are visible immediately after surgery and will continue to improve as swelling subsides and scars fade. Additionally, it can take several months for the incision areas to soften and for the bottom part of the breast to assume a more natural shape. Most patients who maintain realistic expectations and thoroughly discussed their goals prior to surgery are satisfied with the look of their lifted breasts. While results are not permanent, they will allow patients to enjoy a younger-looking appearance for many years to come. The larger the breasts, the more gravity will drag on the breasts making results not last as long; as a result, sometimes Dr. Bershof recommends a mini-breast reduction rather than a breast lift. This is a good alternative in women whose breasts are already on the larger side. Additionally, although some think adding an implant "lifts" the breasts, they do not. Implants make a sagging breast "look" better proportioned, but not lifted.
Risks of Breast Lift
Although a breast lift is considered a safe procedure for ideal candidates, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgical procedure, which may include bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia or permanent visible scarring. These risks can be reduced by following the Dr. Bershof's instructions before and after treatment.
Breast Lift FAQs
Is a Breast Lift Painful?
There will be some pain during your recovery after your breast lift with Dr. Bershof. The method he uses will correlate to the amount of discomfort, as there are different incision lengths along with different degrees of breast tissue repositioning. You will need the prescription pain medication Dr. Bershof prescribes for at least a couple days, but at that point you should be able to transition to over-the-counter pain medication. After those first few days, your pain should rapidly decrease. Keeping your breasts from moving at all is helpful in avoiding pain.
Will Breast and Nipple Sensitivity Be Affected by a Breast Lift?
Breast lifts involve a good deal of repositioning of breast tissue, and this can affect nipple sensation in the short term. The nipples can be either numb or very sensitive. This is because the surgery usually disturbs some of the nerve pathways. But regular sensation returns in all but a very small percentage of patients.
Still, since the areolae are usually repositioned in a breast lift, there is the possibility that some loss of sensation or sensitivity could occur.
Overall breast sensitivity should not be affected. As with the nipples, there may be some temporary loss of sensation, but these issues should resolve as you heal.
How Long Will My Results Last with My Breast Lift?
The sagging and excess skin removed with your breast lift are permanently gone. Of course, your body will continue to age, and your tissues will continue to weaken and sag. Still, any future sagging won’t come close to the sagging that created the need for this surgery with Dr. Bershof.
The only way to really negate any of your results would be to gain and lose a large amount of weight, or to become pregnant again.
If you’ve opted for augmentation with your breast lift, implants have a lifespan of usually around 10 years, so you’ll probably need to have your implants replaced at least twice during your life (depending on your age).
How Does a Breast Lift Differ from Breast Augmentation?
A lift targets the stretched sagging skin and other tissues that have flattened the breasts and dropped the breasts lower on the chest. The goal of a lift is to bring the breasts back to their former higher location on the chest. Excess skin is removed, breast tissue is repositioned, and the nipple/areola complex is moved up and often decreased in size. Breast lifts have nothing to do with breast volume, only breast position and sagging skin.
Augmentation has the goal of increasing the size and volume of the breasts. Augmentation makes the breasts fuller, especially in the area above the nipples. Augmentation does nothing for sagging skin, although implants can correct a small amount of sagging by adding volume.
Can a Breast Lift Correct Asymmetrical Breasts?
Most women have some degree of asymmetry between their breasts; this is completely normal. The sagging of descension of your breasts with pregnancy and or weight gain and loss can exacerbate this. Dr. Bershof can correct this discrepancy with either a breast lift or a breast lift with implants. This is possible because the breast lift procedure changes the elevation of the breasts and that can be customized to each breast so that they end up symmetrical.
Can I Combine a Breast Lift with Other Surgical Procedures?
A breast lift is already part of Dr. Bershof’s “mommy makeovers,” along with a tummy tuck and liposuction. Mommy makeovers combine these three surgical procedures into a single surgical session to target the changes that occur with a woman’s body due to pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.
As mentioned above, many patients have Dr. Bershof’s add implants during their breast lift to return volume they’ve lost, especially on the top half of the breasts. Or they can simply want to have somewhat larger breasts. Adding augmentation to a lift is the perfect time, as Dr. Bershof can place the implants through the incisions he has already made for the breast lift.
If I Think I May Have More Children, Should I Still Have a Breast Lift?
Dr. Bershof advises his potential breast lift patients to be confident they do not want any additional children moving forward. This is because the changes he makes with your breast lift can be negated, at least to a large extent, by the breast size gain and weight gain of pregnancy and breastfeeding. This can create new sagging afterwards.
The best time for this procedure is after you are finished having children.
What Will My Scarring Be Like after a Breast Lift?
Scarring will be a part of these procedures, as the incisions are somewhat lengthy. But you’ll be surprised at how they fade with time. The anchor incision will create the most scarring, as you would assume.
The best advice for managing or attempting to minimize the appearance of your scars is to leave the silicone wound dressings in place until Dr. Bershof removes them at your follow-up. Also, always wearing your surgical bra and then your support bra during the first 4-6 weeks is critical. This eliminates any pressure on the incisions, which keeps the scars as narrow as possible. It also helps eliminate some of the redness.
Topical scar-minimizing treatments keep the area moisturized and help to minimize the appearance of the scars. SkinMedica makes one such product called Scar Recovery Gel with Centelline.
Lightly massaging your scars can help them heal more smoothly. But you cannot do this too early and put stress on your incisions. Ask Dr. Bershof when massage could be appropriate, along with the proper technique.
To learn more about the breast lift procedure, please call us today to schedule a consultation.