The endless pull of gravity isn’t kind to our breasts. Add to that the fluctuating size and stretching that accompanies pregnancy and breastfeeding, or the gain and loss of a good deal of weight. Your breasts now appear flattered, wider, and sit much lower on the chest. The nipples may even point more downward. What happened to the higher, perkier breasts of your youth?
What is a breast lift?
A breast lift, clinically known as mastopexy, has the goal of returning the breasts to a higher position on the chest. To accomplish this, excess skin and sometimes fat is removed, the tissue is repositioned, and the nipples and areolae are usually repositioned higher on breasts.
If the patient feels she has lost too much volume, the breasts can easily be augmented during the procedure by placing implants.
Breast Lift Candidates
Breast lift surgery offers distinct benefits that are not always achieved with breast augmentation alone. With or without augmentation using breast implants, breast lift surgery can improve:
- The firmness of the breasts. When the breasts start to sag, they lose the appearance of firmness. A breast lift does not make breast tissue firmer but, by repositioning the breast mounds higher on the chest wall, this procedure gives the breasts new support.
- Nipple projection. Women may expect a bit of breast sag as they age but are often surprised about how their nipples change. With the loss of firmness and support, the nipples start to point downward toward the stomach. By lifting the skin that holds the breasts, this procedure restores the forward, perky projection of the nipples.
- Breast shape. When breasts deflate of fatty tissue and the skin around them loosens, their shape may go from round to more tubular. A breast lift restores roundness to the breast mound, including enhanced fullness at the upper region of the breast.
- Skin health and comfort. When the breasts fall over the inframammary crease, skin touches the skin. This can result in redness, irritation, and even recurrent skin infections. A breast lift removes this skin-on-skin problem and the effects that it causes.
How do I prepare for my breast lift?
There may be a few steps that are necessary before breast lift surgery. This may vary from one person to another depending on health history, current medications and supplements, lifestyle, and the findings of our examination. Some patients may need to have bloodwork or a mammogram done. Some may need to change certain medications or stop taking certain supplements. In general, significant life changes are rarely needed. Our patients also receive detailed pre-operative instructions to follow in the days leading up to their surgery, such as not smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
Every woman has different patterns of sagging in her breasts. The larger the degree of sagging, the wider the base of the breasts becomes. This usually makes the breasts the most flattened, as well. Dr. Hunsaker uses three incision patterns for this procedure, depending on your unique needs:
Also called a small-incision mastopexy, a donut-shaped incision is made around the areola. This method creates minimal visible scarring but is only appropriate for women with minimal sagging who don’t need much excess skin removed.
This incision circles the areola and then drops straight down, ending at the breast crease. This method allows for moderate removal of excess skin and fat.
This method circles the areola, drops down to the breast crease, and then extends outward in both directions, similar to the shape of an anchor. The anchor incision allows for the most skin removal and tissue adjustment, but it also creates the largest scar.
In each method, Dr. Hunsaker lifts and reshapes the breast tissue to compensate for sagging and stretching. The nipples and areolae are moved to a higher position to match the new profile of the breasts. Extra skin can be removed around the areolae to make them smaller. The final step is to trim away excess sagging skin. If you’ve opted to augment your breasts, at this point pockets are created and the implants are placed using the incisions made for the lift.
Does a breast lift require anesthesia?
The breast lift operation is performed under general anesthesia or heavy sedation combined with a local anesthetic.
How long does breast lift surgery take?
Breast lift surgery takes a few hours.
What is the recovery like from breast lift surgery?
Patients spend a short time in recovery until they regain alertness after general anesthesia. They are then sent home to begin their recovery period. Patients should relax after their procedure but need not be on bed rest. We encourage our patients to move around a little bit beginning the day of their surgery. There are no limitations to what can be eaten. Patients should not consume alcohol. Showering may resume as early as the next day.
Some of the ways that patients can promote healing after their breast lift include:
- Wear compression as directed. A compression or surgical bra can alleviate soreness and tenderness and also help swelling resolve more quickly.
- Prepare to relax most of the first few days after surgery. One of the challenges of post-surgical recovery is slowing down to allow healing to occur. We live in a world where “hustle” is the name of the game. Not after surgery. Not for a few days.
- Sprinkle short walks throughout the day. Walking is a gentle exercise that helps maintain good circulation while tissues are healing and absorbing nutrients delivered via blood flow.
- Postpone exercise. No lifting. Not even the kids or the pets. Lifting requires the chest muscles to contract, which can cause unnecessary discomfort. Patients may begin resuming normal activities 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
- Sleep on the back. Because the chest is sensitive after breast surgery, patients will need to sleep on their backs for a short time. A few extra pillows on each side may prevent turning over during the night.
- Avoid too much heat. Hot showers, hot tubs, saunas, and sunbathing should be avoided after breast lift surgery. This can worsen swelling.
- Take medications as directed. There is no need to rush to end the use of prescription pain medication. Within a week or two, most patients can make this transition. Aspirin should be avoided for at least 2 weeks.
Breast Lift vs. Breast Augmentation
A breast lift simply brings the breasts back up to a higher position on the chest. It does this by removing excess fatty tissue and trimming excess skin. Breast augmentation doesn’t provide a lift of the breasts; it simply adds volume to the breasts by inserting either silicone- or saline-filled implants. A breast lift can include augmentation if the patient would like to either return volume or simply increase the breast size.
What results can a breast lift achieve?
The improvements achieved with breast lift surgery can be seen immediately after surgery. However, because of swelling, the outcome of surgery is not realized for two to three months. Over time, incision lines fade and the breasts settle into their new, higher position. These results can last several years by maintaining a healthy diet, stable weight, and an active lifestyle.
How long do the results last?
Breast lift surgery does not stop the body from aging. It does, however, reset the clock. Once the breasts are lifted on the chest wall, their descent should be gradual. Patients can help sustain the height of their lifted breasts by maintaining a consistent weight and good muscle tone in the chest area.
Can a breast lift be combined with other procedures?
Yes. Breast lift surgery and breast augmentation are often planned at the same time. This combination restores perkiness as well as shape. Breast lift surgery can also be combined with other body-contouring procedures, such as liposuction and abdominoplasty. Sometimes, patients choose to address concerns related to facial aging and body aging at the same time. Dr. Hunsaker has the educational and clinical experience to assist patients with their personal decision regarding plastic surgery.
What our patients have to say
"I decided I wanted a breast lift and augmentation after having a tummy tuck at age 34 in Miami which was successful I lost 45 pounds I went from 195 to 146 I believe that I was nice to him however my boobs were kind of long they were glad to my stomach which I will provide pictures of and what my left dr. Robert Hunsaker has done for me is lifted them and gave me implants to give me better shape and projection and I am in love with them."
"I am one-week post-op mommy maker from Dr. Hunsaker. I was a little worried going in but he put my mind at ease. I had a tummy tuck, 550cc silicone implants, breast lift, and 4 areas of lipo done. Every time came out fantastic and I’m healing really fast. Thank you, Dr. Hunsaker!"
What are the risks with breast lift surgery?
Breast lifts include risks involved with surgery: bleeding or the formation of a hematoma, reaction to anesthesia, infection, and slow incision healing.
Risks related to this particular procedure include:
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation (these usually revolve within a few months)
- Irregularities in breast contour or shape
- Breast asymmetry
- Necrosis of fat tissue
- Fluid accumulation
- Possibility of the need for revision surgery