The natural aging process as well as major life events of pregnancy, breastfeeding and weight loss can all negatively impact the appearance, shape and size of a woman’s breasts. As the breast tissue is stretched and the skin loses elasticity, the breasts can begin to sag. The good news is that a breast lift procedure, or mastopexy, can noticeably improve the shape and appearance of the breasts. A breast lift improves the shape and profile of the breasts, returning them to a more youthful position and shape. This procedure corrects for breasts that seem saggy or deflated.
Breast lift surgery is a real solution for patients seeking breast rejuvenation that actually gives a lift to the body shape and profile. Returning the breasts to a more youthful position and shape allows other features to be noticed, like a narrow rib cage and defined waist, shapely shoulders and decollete. When pleasing, proportion is restored, patients also benefit from a boost in self-confidence.
Reasons for a Breast Lift
- Sagging breasts
- Enlarged areola
- Excess breast skin tissue
For some women with adequate breast volume, a breast lift alone can be sufficient for restoring breast shape and contours. For women with a small amount of breast volume, a breast lift with augmentation is an excellent option to restore breast shape. The majority of women with breast sagging and low breast volume require a combination of breast lift and augmentation for optimal results. The implant restores or enhances lost volume and fullness, while the breast lift is done to reshape the breast, removing excess skin and elevating the areola.
It is recommended that women wait to undergo a breast lift until they are done having children. Although a breast lift will not negatively impact a woman’s ability to get pregnant, pregnancy will likely stretch the breasts again and can undo the results of the breast lift procedure.
The Breast Lift Surgical Procedure
Our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive, short incision techniques. Shorter incisions give outcomes with smaller, less visible scarring. There are three common approaches to a breast lift procedure. During the consultation, the surgeon will analyze the woman’s anatomy and determine which technique will yield the most optimal outcomes. Once the incision is made, the surgeon enhances the breast shape by:
- Lifting and reshaping the underlying breast tissue to improve contours and firmness
- Repositioning the nipple and areola to a higher, more youthful and natural position
- Reducing enlarged areolas when necessary
- Removing excess breast tissue that has lost elasticity
The Peri-areolar(Benelli) Lift
This breast lift is commonly performed for women who need a small breast lift with only minor repositioning of the areola and tightening of the skin. It is also commonly performed when a woman is undergoing breast augmentation in addition to the breast lift. The benefit of this technique is that the nipple position and breast shape are both improved. In this procedure, the surgeon creates an incision around the areola, allowing for reduction in the size of the areola to 1.5 inches diameter.
The Vertical Breast Lift
This breast lift utilizes an incision that goes around the nipple and then downward to the breast crease (where the breast meets the torso). This incision is sometimes called the lollipop lift because the incision is created in the shape of a lollipop. This approach allows for expert repositioning of the nipple and remodeling of the breast tissue into a youthful and pleasing shape. The surgeon removes excess skin and the deep layer of breast tissue is sutured together to reshape the breast.
The areola is positioned in a more pleasing way and the incision is closed. This technique typically does not result in any puckering around the areola, but it initially leaves the breasts high and perky. Within a few weeks of healing, the breasts soften and assume a natural and pleasing appearance.
The Inverted T Breast Lift
This breast lift technique utilizes an inverted T shaped incision, running down the middle of the breast and along the base. Combining these two incisions allows the surgeon to remove the maximum amount of skin and allows for the greatest breast reshaping. The surgeon will remove excess skin and tighten existing skin, in addition to suturing the deep layer of breast tissue for reshaping.
The areola is positioned to a higher and more pleasing position and the incisions are closed. This technique typically does not result in any skin puckering but does leave the breasts high and perky initially. In the few weeks of recovery, the breasts settle into a natural and pleasing position.
Our surgeons are experienced with all techniques and strive to create short incisions for optimal results with limited scarring. Some incision lines are concealed by the breasts natural contours, such as the horizontal incision at the base of the breast, or in the transition between the darker areola to the lighter breast skin. Incision scars are permanent but they will fade and improve over time.
What to Expect During Breast Lift Recovery
Breast lift surgery takes 2-3 hours and is done under general anesthesia. Recovery takes about 4 weeks, but will differ from patient to patient and the extent of the procedure. For individuals undergoing a breast lift alone, the surgery will take a shorter amount of time. For individuals undergoing a breast lift and augmentation, the surgery will take more time.
What to Expect After Breast Lift Surgery
After the surgeon has completed the breast lift, with or without augmentation, the surgical incisions are closed with sutures or tape. The breasts are wrapped in gauze bandages to protect and support the breasts. The breasts are supported with a surgical bra during the healing phase.
There will likely be some swelling in the area, which will decrease rapidly over several weeks following surgery. Because the breast tissue has been altered and stretched, pain should be expected. However, surgical pain can be easily controlled with prescription or over the counter pain medications.
Most women are able to go home to recover within a few hours after surgery. Patients are given educational instruction on the proper care of the breasts, medications, and follow up instructions. After surgery, it is important to rest for a few days in order to allow for proper healing. Heavy lifting should be avoided for four to six weeks. Soreness and swelling should be expected for the first few weeks. Patients are permitted to return to most of their work and household activities within one week.