What is a Breast Lift?
Breast lift surgery, also known as Mastopexy, involves restoring a more youthful look to a woman’s breasts. The breasts can lose their shape and firmness due to many different factors such as pregnancy, nursing, atrophy of the breast tissue after the child-bearing years, loss of elasticity of the skin or even weight loss. In effect, the breasts sag and lose their shape making them appear deflated. In such cases, there is a discrepancy between the excessive skin envelopes of the breast compared to what is left of the volume of breast tissue, according to the patient’s view.
This surgical procedure is designed to lift and give the breasts a better shape by delaying or reversing the effects of aging and gravity. Reduction of the size of the areola, the pigmented area which surrounds the nipple, is also done in this procedure as it may become wider after breastfeeding. If necessary, breast implants may also be placed to add the adequate volume needed, aside from the lifting and tightening of the breast envelope.
Effects of Breast Lift
More often than not, patients find Mastopexy to be an extremely uplifting procedure. A more youthful appearance is restored to breasts that have aged disproportionately to the rest of their bodies. In most cases, patients are able to select from a wider range of more appealing bra styles and wear clothing that enhance their appearance. A lot of patients also feel a boost in their self-confidence about how their breasts look when not wearing clothing.
Candidates for Breast LIFT
Those who are good candidates for Breast Lift have at least one of following characteristics:
Women who are healthy and young with small, sagging, or drooping breasts.
Women who after pregnancy or nursing have stretched skin with consequent atrophy or loss of breast tissue volume.
Women with recurring weight gain and loss episodes as these episodes can result in breasts that can be of adequate cup size but appear to be hanging loosely or are drooping.
Women whose breasts have more breast tissue volume compared to the amount of excess skin.
Women with empty breasts, those with extreme excess skin with poor elasticity as compared to the volume of the breast. Although the breasts may be lifted up, the results are generally not as long lasting.
Breast Lift is usually performed along with Breast Augmentation or Breast Enlargement, using implants in order to increase the firmness and size or volume of the breasts.
Your surgeon will conduct a thorough examination and take a complete medical history to evaluate your overall health, as well as a detailed examination and measurement of your breasts. It is ideal that you have no health issues, no pre-existing breast disease, and desire only to improve the shape and appearance of your breasts. Generally, mastopexy does not get in the way with your ability to breast feed, if future pregnancies are expected.
A mammogram at least six months before surgery is required, and photos of your breasts will be taken before and after surgery.
The doctor will discuss your options based upon your preferences and the physical qualities of your breasts, and will also determine if the addition of an implant is suitable. The probable location of the incisions will also be discussed with you.
Before the surgery, antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent infections. Drugs containing aspirin should be avoided in order to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding.
The Breast Lift Procedure
Breast lifts are usually performed in an outpatient facility setting and under general anesthesia. The procedure may take between two to three hours.
The common approach to this procedure involves having an incision alongside the natural contour of the fold beneath the breast where removal of the excess skin takes place. Repositioning of the nipple and areola at a higher level is done on the breast mound. Stitches are made around the areola and the lower breast area to bring together the skin surrounding the areola to reshape the breast.
Several layers of hidden sutures are used and with the use of surgical tape the final incisions are covered. A small suction drain is placed behind the breast. This is done to avoid accumulation of fluid and is usually removed within two to five days.
For the first 24 to 48 hours post-surgery, you will be placed in a soft bra and/or a comfortable wrapping around the chest and breasts. Dressings will be removed and will be replaced at a follow-up appointment in the office.
The Mastopexy technique has other variations which include minimally invasive techniques such as Binelli or doughnut mastopexy, concentric mastopexy, SPAIR mammoplasty, vertical or LeJour mastopexy, and crescent mastopexy. These are generally designed to modify the length or location of the surgical scars. However, these techniques are not applicable in many cases and may even involve setbacks such as the possibility of gathering or puckering of the skin that surrounds the areola and can delay healing of the incision and result in poor initial shape of the breasts after surgery.
To achieve optimal results, some techniques are dependent upon the implants used. Many patients are concerned with the length and location of the scars but oftentimes are exceedingly pleased with their results following surgery. They believe the cosmetic improvement of the breasts is well worth the trade-off of the necessary scars.
After the procedure, your stitches will be covered with gauze and a soft wrap or surgical bra in order to hold the bandages in place. Your breasts will be slightly bruised or swollen and some mild discomfort should be expected for a few days. Your surgeon will prescribe a pain medication that is strong enough to work against any pain or discomfort. It is imperative that at the recovery stage, a soft surgical bra is worn for the breasts to be fully supported after the surgery and to make sure that shape is maintained during the healing stage. If drains are placed, removal of these will take place after two to five days.
The stitches will then be removed after one to two weeks. A special suturing technique is being utilized by your surgeon in order for stitch marks to be minimized and to make sure that the incisions will fade eventually. Loss of sensation in your nipples or breasts may be temporarily lost due to the swelling experienced in the initial post-operative period of 6 to 12 weeks. Expect normal sensation to come back in three to six months’ time.
For proper healing to occur, it is important that you follow the detailed instructions given during your pre-operative consultation. In general, patients may return to their daily activities within 24 to 48 hours. Non-strenuous work can be resumed in one week or less after the surgery. Lifting heavy objects should be avoided for three to four weeks. You can gradually progress to strenuous physical exercise or activity after that time.
It is of utmost importance that anyone considering surgery, not just Mastopexy, should be aware of both the benefits and risks. Fortunately, significant complications from mastopexy are uncommon and generally patients are happy with the results.
The potential risks of Mastopexy are bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Tissue loss and delayed wound healing occur rarely along the portions of the incision, especially in smokers or diabetic patients or where there has been a more extensive procedure. Mastopexy leaves permanent scars but most of the incisions are placed within natural skin folds and are generally covered by a bra or a bathing suit. The appearance of the scars is expected to improve with time. Occasionally, revision of the scars will be required at a succeeding procedure if they have healed poorly. Very seldom do problems with the shape or position of the nipples occur, as well as permanent loss of sensation or loss of tissue in the nipples or breast. When breast implants are used, complications of deflation in saline implants, rupturing of silicone implants, contracture, palpable surface irregularities, asymmetry, interference with mammography, and others could occur.
It is important to carefully follow the recommendations and instructions given by your surgeon during your consultation in order to lessen most of the risks associated with mastopexy. Any personal questions or concerns may be addressed during that time as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will my nipple be removed during the procedure?
A: During the procedure, the nipple remains attached to the breast and the chest wall at all times. This preserves the circulation and sensation to the nipple, as well as the function of the nipple and the breast. The nipple is transposed to a higher position on the breast mound and is never detached from the breast.
Q: How long will it take for my scars to fade?
A: The progress of your incisions post-surgery will be carefully monitored by your surgeon. Some treatments may be recommended to improve the scars’ appearance and to speed up their improvement. In general, final results of your incision will be seen after 12 to 18 months.
Q: Can I breast feed after Mastopexy?
A: Most women maintain their capability to breast feed since only a few incisions are made in the glandular substance of the breast during mastopexy. On the other hand, with or without mastopexy, not all women are capable of breast feeding.
Q: Will I lose sensation in my nipples?
A: Although there may be some decrease in the sensation of your nipples or rarely some hypersensitivity, nipple sensation is generally preserved.
Q: Does smoking increase my risk of complications from Mastopexy?
A: It is required that you quit smoking for at least two to three weeks prior to and four to six weeks after your mastopexy. There is greater risk for smokers to have tissue loss in the nipple or surrounding breast, delay of wound healing, or poor scars.
Q: When can I resume to my normal activities?
A: You may return to daily activities such as driving and to work within 24 to 48 hours post-surgery. Until the drains have been removed and the incisions are completely healed, you should not bathe or immerse the incisions or drain sites under water in a bathtub, hot tub, swimming pool, etc.
Q: Will insurance cover my Mastopexy procedure?
A: Mastopexy is considered a cosmetic procedure. Therefore, insurance will not pay for any portion of the procedure.
Q: When can I wear bras or clothing styles I prefer?
A: After three to four weeks, you may expect that most of your swelling after the procedure is resolved. During this time, it is unlikely that the breasts will change much in size but they may continue to become soft and may show improvement in shape. At this time, you can start shopping for bras and even start wearing your clothing style of choice. However, it is important that you wear the post-surgical bra supplied by our office for at least the first two weeks after the procedure.