A breast lift, or mastopexy, is performed to return youthful shape and lift to breasts that have sagged as a result of weight loss, pregnancy, loss of the skin’s natural elasticity or simply the effects of gravity. The procedure can also reduce areolar size (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), and it can be combined with augmentation mammaplasty (breast augmentation) for added breast volume and firmness. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but results last longest when they are originally small and sagging.
Women planning to have children are advised to postpone surgery, since pregnancy and nursing can counteract its effects by stretching the skin. However, breast lift should not affect your ability to breast-feed.
Breast lift may be performed in a hospital, an outpatient surgery center or a surgeon’s office-based facility. It is usually done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, and lasts from 1-½ to 3-½ hours.
A number of pre-operative steps are typically taken such as a mammogram, measurement of the bustline, and discussion with the surgeon about the desired size and shape of the breast and placement of the nipple. During the procedure an anchor-shaped incision is made from the location of the new nipple down to and around the crease beneath the breast. The surgeon removes excess skin, relocates the nipple and areola, and reshapes the breast using skin from around the areola before closing the incisions with stitches.
Patients with small breasts and minimal sagging may be recommended for smaller-incision mastopexy. One such modified procedure is concentric (“doughnut”) mastopexy, in which two concentric circular incisions are made around the areola and a doughnut-shaped swathe of skin is removed.
After breast lift surgery the breasts are wrapped with gauze dressings, over which an elastic bandage or a surgical bra is placed. After a few days this is replaced with a soft support bra which is worn 24 hours a day for about a month. Breasts will probably be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a few days but this will pass. Numbness in the breasts and nipples should lessen as swelling subsides, although occasionally it lasts for months or even permanently. Stitches are removed after one to two weeks, and many patients return to work then.
Large breasts can negatively impact a woman both physically and emotionally, causing symptoms such as chronic back pain, rashes, poor posture, low self-esteem and restricted activity. Many women seek treatment to reduce the painful effects of their large breasts, while also improving their self-confidence and overall quality of life. Also known as reduction mammaplasty, breast reduction surgery reduces the size of large, disproportionate breasts by removing excess fat, tissue and skin for a more desirable appearance and relief of physical and emotional symptoms.
During the breast reduction procedure, the surgeon makes either two circular incisions around the nipple or an anchor incision that circles the nipple and extends down the breast and along the breast crease. Fat and glandular tissue is then removed, while excess skin is tightened to produce a smaller, natural-looking breast. In some cases, the nipple and areola may need to be removed and then repositioned higher on the breast.
The results of a breast reduction are visible right away and will continue to improve as swelling and bruising subside. Scars will continue to fade over time, becoming less and less noticeable.