Breast Lift Surgery (Mastopexy)
A breast lift (mastopexy or mastoplexy) can raise, shape and firm sagging breasts, resulting in a perky, youthful appearance. Breast lift can be performed on its own or in combination with breast augmentation surgery, including breast auto augmentation.
There are several types of breast lift. They mainly vary based on incision patterns. The determination as to which breast lift is right for you depends on the degree of breast ptosis (sagging), the amount of excess skin, the position of your nipples and your surgeon's preference.
There are some nonsurgical breast lift alternatives that you may want to consider, including the so-called Botox breast lift and the laser bra procedure.
Are You a Good Candidate for Breast Lift?
If you are planning to have more children, postpone your breast lift until you are done. Pregnancy and breast-feeding contribute to breast sagging (ptosis). In addition, if you are planning to lose a significant amount of weight, hold off on your breast lift until you have achieved this goal. Massive weight loss can also cause your breasts to sag.
The first step in the process is a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. During this visit, your surgeon will determine if you are a candidate for breast lift. He or she will examine your breasts and assess the degree of ptosis. This is also the time to tell your surgeon exactly what you expect from your breast lift procedure. He or she will be able to determine if your expectations are realistic, and if they can be met with a breast lift or a breast lift in combination with breast augmentation. If you choose to have a breast lift, your surgeon will give you a list of preoperative instructions detailing what you can and can't do in the days and weeks leading up to your procedure(s).
Types of Breast Lifts
The types of breast lift differ by incision pattern.
The anchor lift is the oldest form of breast lift. It is so named because the scar looks like an anchor. This lift is mainly for breasts that are extremely droopy. It involves three incisions: one around the areola (the colored circle around your nipple), one that runs vertically from the bottom of your areola to the crease under your breast, and a third that runs horizontally beneath your breast.
The "lollipop lift" involves an incision around the perimeter of the areola and one that runs vertically down from the areola to the breast crease. This technique is appropriate for women with a moderate degree of breast ptosis.
The "donut lift" involves an incision around the perimeter of your areola. This technique is also called the periareolar lift or a "Benelli" lift (for the surgeon who pioneered it). This type of breast lift is suitable for mild to moderate sagging.
The "crescent lift" is less common. It involves an incision just along the upper half of your areola. This is usually done in conjunction with breast augmentation, and is only appropriate in women with a small degree of ptosis.
A"scarless" breast lift involves tiny incisions that are strategically placed to reduce scarring. These lifts are usually performed using an endoscope (a long, flexible tube with a lighted camera) for guidance. Sometimes, the term "scarless" breast lift is used to describe procedures that use Botox, Thermage (a noninvasive body contouring technique that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten skin) or liposuction to achieve the lifting effect.
In general, a breast lift takes 1.5 to 3.5 hours to perform. Most breast lifts are performed under light sleep sedation or general anesthesia. It is often an outpatient procedure, but this is something you should discuss with your surgeon in advance.
Once you and your surgeon have decided on the most appropriate type of breast lift, the excess skin is removed and your nipple and areola are moved into a new, higher position. The surgical plan will vary based on your breasts and whether you are having any other procedures performed at the same time. Each breast lift surgery is individualized.
Breast Lift Risks, Recovery and Results
Breast lift risks may include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Loss of sensation
- Wound separation
- Hematoma (break in a blood vessel)
- Seroma (collection of fluid under the skin)
Make sure to discuss your personal breast lift risk profile with your breast surgeon in advance of your surgery.
Your breast lift recovery process will vary based on the specifics of your surgery. Your breasts will be swollen and bruised. They will be covered with gauze dressings after the surgery. You will likely be asked to wear a compression garment to minimize swelling.
There will be some discomfort in the first few days. Walking and getting out of bed for brief periods is advisable, but you should not strain, bend of lift until you get the all-clear. These activities can increase your risk of developing complications. There may be a temporary loss of sensation in the treated area.
Your surgeon will likely advise you to avoid lifting anything over your head for at least four weeks. You will probably be able to return to work within a week and resume all your normal activities in a few weeks.
Your surgical dressings should be changed after a few days. During this visit, your surgeon will also remove the drains used to collect excess fluid. You will likely graduate from a compression garment to a soft support bra. It usually takes about six months for your scars to fade and the full results of your breast lift to be evident.
Breast Lift Cost
Your breast lift surgery cost will vary based on the extent of the procedure and whether or not additional procedures are done at the same time. It comprises the anesthesia fee, the facility fee and the surgeon's fee. The cost of a breast lift ranges from $3,500 to $6,000. The cost will be higher if you are also receiving breast implants. Insurance will likely not cover the cost of your breast lift if it is being done for purely cosmetic reasons. If the cost is prohibitive, talk with your surgeon about your financing options.