What Is A Mastopexy or Breast Lift?
Mastopexy (also known as a Breast Lift) is a surgical procedure that lifts and improves the contour of sagging breasts. Breast sagging can be caused by aging, pregnancy, weight loss (repeated fluctuations) and gravity. The procedure is performed by removing excess skin and tightening the supporting tissue in order to position the breast higher onto the chest and make it firmer to the touch. Additionally, the nipple and areola are repositioned and/or resized to create a more aesthetic appearance. Mastopexies do not typically change breast size. However, the breast may appear slightly smaller because of its new positioning on the chest. It can often be combined with a breast augmentation (augmentation mammoplasty) or a breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty).
Who Is A Candidate For Mastopexy?
Candidates being evaluated for mastopexy should be in good overall health, maintain the lowest possible stable weight prior to surgery, and have realistic expectations about what a breast lift can actually do. A woman who chooses to undergo mastopexy should be looking to treat the following:
- Sagging breasts
- Breasts that have lost their shape or volume
- Breasts that are flat/elongated due to weight loss
- Downward pointing nipples or areolas
- Asymmetric breasts (one lower than the other)
Anyone planning to have (more) children should be cautious about undergoing a mastopexy procedure because pregnancy and nursing can cause or worsen sagging again.
What Is Involved In A Mastopexy?
A breast lift is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. It typically takes 2 to 4 hours. Depending on the size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin, one of the following types of incisions is often used:
- Periareolar “donut” (two rings around the areola)
- A “lollipop” shape (a ring around the areola with a vertical line down to the breast crease)
- An anchor shape (a “lollipop” shape with an additional incision running along the lower breast crease)
These incisions involve a progressively larger scar. Breasts with more sagging will require a larger incision pattern, which will leave more scars.
The breast tissue is then removed and/or reshaped to create the ideal breast contour. The nipple and areola are usually moved to a higher position on the breast and resized if needed. Any excess skin is then removed and the remaining skin is tightened to give a more defined look. The incisions are then closed with dissolvable stitches.
What Is The Recovery Time After A Mastopexy?
For a few days following the breast lift procedure, patients are likely to have bruising and swelling. Many are sore for about 1 week, although this can vary. Dressings are usually kept in place inside a surgical bra for about one week. A support bra is then used for an additional month. There are no stitches that need to be removed (all are dissolvable).
Most patients can return to work after one or two weeks. No exercise or strenuous activity should be performed until cleared by your surgeon around 4 weeks postop.
To access full postoperative instructions, please click here.
What Are The Results Of Getting a Breast Lift?
Breast lift procedures provide immediate results. The breasts will continue to improve in appearance over the course of 3 months as the swelling decreases and the scars fade. The breasts will still age over time, but the results are usually fairly long-lasting. Most patients will report high satisfaction levels.
What Are The Risks Involved In A Mastopexy Procedure?
There are always risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, and the anesthesiologist will discuss these with you. Every effort is made to minimize them. Risks related to mastopexy include:
- Temporary or permanent change in nipple or breast sensation
- Asymmetry in breast shape
- Irregularities in breast contour
- Partial or total loss of nipple/areola (rare)
Almost all mastopexy techniques will produce visible scars. Many of these will be concealed within the natural crease of the breast. Others, though visible, will usually fade over time and become less apparent. The risk of poor scarring may be increased with a higher weight/BMI at the time of surgery.
Click here for more before and after breast lift (mastopexy) photos.