What Is A Breast-Lift?


A breast lift procedure, also known as a mastopexy, can lift and shape the breasts to make the chest perter, and the procedure is often done in conjunction with breast implants to restore volume.  As we age, the skin becomes less elastic, often causing the skin to sag and the breasts to droop. Pregnancy and breast-feeding can also take their toll, making the bust less firm and perky than it was in your youth. Rapid weight loss or yo-yo dieting are other contributing factors. Once you lose the fullness and shape in your breasts, it is very difficult to restore without surgery.

If your breasts are droopy or saggy or have lost significant volume, then you could be an ideal candidate for a breast lift or mastopexy.

Reasons to consider a Breast Lift

  • Reduced breast firmness and sagging as part of the ageing process
  • Drooping or sagging breasts after pregnancy or breast-feeding (in this situation you may also require a breast up-lift)
  • Sagging or dropping breasts as the result of rapid weight loss or yo-yo dieting

It is important to have realistic expectations about the results that can be achieved. Although a breast lift can be performed on any size breasts, women with smaller breasts seem to attain the most benefits from mastopexy. If you have very large breasts then you may want to have a breast reduction, which will also involve lifting.

The ideal breast lift candidate is a woman who:

  • Is over the age of 18
  • Has drooping breasts (breasts with stretched skin and less volume than in the past).
  • Is physically healthy and emotionally stable.
  • Is not pregnant or breastfeeding (and does not plan to get pregnant).
  • Does not have plans to lose excessive amounts of weight.
  • Hasn’t experienced healing problems with any past surgical treatments i.e. prone to keloid (red, angry, raised) scars.
  • Your surgeon may caution you that scars could be raised and be very visible after surgery.

Only a qualified cosmetic surgeon can determine whether a mastopexy is right for you, but providing you are fit and healthy and have realistic expectations of what can be achieved then surgery can be a great way of giving you more confidence in the way you look.

Undergoing any form of surgery is a big step so make sure you have thought about it carefully and come to an informed decision. You should also never consider having surgery if you are being pressured into it by someone else.

You should also think carefully about whether you intend to have children or if you already have a family, whether you are planning to have any more. It is usually best to wait until you are not planning to get pregnant again as pregnancy and breast-feeding can dramatically change the shape and fullness of your breasts and are two of the main reasons for women undergoing a breast lift in the first place. Although breast lift surgery does not affect you becoming pregnant, having surgery before you have finished having a family may result in the need for additional surgery. By waiting to have a mastopexy, you increase the chance that your breast lift results will last longer. In most cases, mastopexy does not affect the ability to breast-feed, however, this is a possible complication of this type of surgery.

If you have decided to have surgery after losing a lot of weight, then you should not consider having surgery until you have reached your goal weight as losing significantly more weight can affect the result of your surgery ad result in more drooping and sagging because of the loss of fat. Because your breasts are not the only areas on your body to accumulate excess skin after a sizeable weight loss, in addition to a breast lift, you should discuss with your surgeon additional procedures including a tummy tuck or body lift.

If you have experienced healing problems with any past surgical treatments or if you are prone to keloid (red, angry, raised) scars, your surgeon may not recommend a breast lift or may caution you that scars could be raised and very visible. Heavy smokers are also not ideal candidates for any type of surgery as they are at more risk when undergoing general anesthetic. If you do smoke, you’ll be asked to stop at least two months before the procedure, as smoking can also delay the healing process.

Having a thorough consultation with a qualified surgeon is the only way to discover if the procedure is suitable for you.

For many women, the size and shape of their breasts has a huge impact on the way they view themselves. Having saggy or droopy breasts can make you feel self-conscious, unattractive and insecure about your body. Breast lift surgery can have enormous benefits. Providing you have thought about it seriously beforehand and are happy with your decision then having the surgery can really boost your self-confidence and self-esteem and give you back the shape and fullness you had in your youth. Results differ from person to person however, so you need to make sure you have reasonable expectations of what the surgery can do for you.

Although there are many benefits to breast lift surgery, there are also a number of risks involved, which should be carefully considered before you make the decision whether or not to go ahead.

Risks include swelling, bruising, infection, scarring, loss of nipple sensation, nerve damage, asymmetry, interference with breast-feeding and reaction to general anesthetic. If you have also had breast implants then additional complications can include: capsular contracture, rippling, displacement, rupturing and leakage. Breast implants can also interfere with mammogram results and some women report difficulty with breast-feeding. The risk of these complications occurring can be minimized by carefully picking your surgeon, following the post-surgery recovery instructions and the type of implant you choose.

Swelling is very common following any breast lift surgery. It can take three to five weeks to go completely and wearing your recommended supportive surgical garments will help.

Bruising is fairly common after any surgery although not everyone will experience it. The amount of bruising you get will depend on how your surgery is performed and varies from person to person. While bruising is usually very minimal, if you have any large, firm, painful areas of bruising, contact your surgeon immediately as there is the possibility of developing a hematoma, which is a more serious type of bruise that will need treatment. However normal bruising should subside in one to two weeks.

Infection can occur with any type of surgery. It usually happens within one to six weeks of surgery. In the majority of cases an infection can just be treated with antibiotics. If you have also had implants and contract a serious infection, they may need to be removed. Symptoms of infection include fever as well as severe tenderness, redness, and swelling. To avoid getting an infection, make sure you keep the area around your stitches clean and avoid putting creams or deodorants near it. You should also not submerge yourself in a bath or swimming pool during the recovery period.

Scarring will occur with any kind of surgery. The locations of your scars will depend on the technique used by your surgeon. Your scars will be firm and pink for approximately six weeks and will fade over the next few months but never disappear completely. Various topical medications are available to help minimize the appearance of scars.

Nipple sensation can be affected by breast lift surgery. Increased sensitivity or numbness/loss of sensation in the nipples can be a permanent side effect. It is important to remember that this is very common as a temporary side effect as the nerves that bring sensation to the breast are severed during surgery. It may take several months for these nerves to regenerate and for sensation to return. There is a higher risk of permanent sensation loss when significant repositioning of the nipple is necessary.

Asymmetry of the breast is another possible complication. Because everyone heals differently, some women will experience small differences in the size or shape of breasts after breast lift surgery. Asymmetrical nipple placement may also be apparent after surgery. Breast asymmetry is one of the most common risks of breast lift surgery and in most cases, is minor. However, if the asymmetry is extreme, it can be revised through an additional surgery.

Interference with breastfeeding has long been thought to be one of the risks of breast lift surgery. However, because the milk glands are not separated from the nipple during the procedure, breastfeeding is typically not affected. Great care is taken to preserve the milk ducts during nipple re-positioning and only in rare cases are the ducts affected.

There is also always a risk associated with undergoing general anesthetic. You can experience side effects from anesthesia, such as a sore throat, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shivering, or muscle pain but these are usually temporary. It is very important that you let your surgeon know if you have experienced any reactions to anesthesia in the past.

Serious side effects and complications with breast lift surgery are very unusual, however it is important to remember that if you do suffer complications you may require additional surgery to repair the damage.

Before making the decision to undergo a breast lift, you should find out as much information as possible about the procedure, the surgeon and hospital you are being treated at.

Always discuss the procedure with your clinic or hospital first and then go away and consider very carefully you reasons for wanting breast-lifting surgery. You should also have a consultation of at least an hour with your surgeon before going ahead. Do not be afraid to ask any questions and make sure all of your concerns are addressed before you sign on the dotted line. The most important thing is to make an informed decision that you feel confident about.

A thorough consultation should involve your surgeon taking a full medical history to ensure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t have the procedure done. You will also be asked to sign a consent form to say you have understood both the benefits and risks associated with the surgery. It is very important that you read this form carefully. Most surgeons will also take before and after photographs to give you a comparison later.

During your breast lift consultation, your surgeon will examine you and measure your breasts. They will then discuss your options with you, which include having a straightforward mastoplexy, a reduction or a lift combined with augmentation using implants. They will also talk to you about the type of surgery you can have which will determine where your scars are and where your nipple and areola will be positioned.

To prepare for your Breast Lift surgery you should:

  • Avoid taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs for a period of 10 days before your surgery, because they cause the blood to thin and make surgery more dangerous
  • Give up smoking at least two months before the procedure, as it increases the risks and can delay the healing process
  • On the day of surgery, you should wear loose-fitting clothes that can be removed and replaced easily

Your breast lift will be performed at a hospital, or a surgeon’s clinic, and usually doesn’t require an overnight stay. A breast lift can take between one and a half and three and a half hours and you will be put under general anesthetic during the procedure. In some cases, where little skin needs to be removed, the breast lift procedure can be performed with a local anesthetic and a sedative.

There are different techniques that can be used, but the surgery usually begins with the surgeon making a cut underneath your breast, which follows the natural curve of the breast. He then makes another cut, which runs from the nipple down towards the bottom of the breast. In all types of breast lift surgery excess skin is removed and the skin and nipple are re-positioned to result in breasts that are firm and lifted. Where the surgeon makes his incisions will depend on the type of breast lift surgery you are having. This will also determine where your scars will be placed. This will all have been discussed at your consultation. Stitches are usually put in around the areola, in a line running downwards from the nipple area, and along the lower crease of the breast.

As with any surgery, breast lift recovery takes time. You will most likely be drowsy and sore for a day or two so it is a good idea to have a friend or relative to drive you home and help you for a couple of days until you feel a bit better. Although you should be up and around after about 48 hours, there may be some side effects which can last for a couple weeks to a month so you should follow your surgeon’s instructions closely during this healing period.

You can be quite swollen and bruised after surgery and your breasts may also be quite sensitive and tender for a few weeks. You will usually be sent home with bandages and surgical bra, which will be removed after a couple of days. You may also have a drain (to drain excess fluid) as drainage of fluid and crusting is a normal side effect.

You will wear the surgical bra for the first few days after surgery. This bra is then replaced with a support bandage or sports bra, which is to be worn at all times for at least four weeks after surgery.

Discomfort, swelling, and bruising usually lasts from two to three weeks so you may be prescribed pain medication during your first week of recovery.

You should avoid bending over, exercising or performing any strenuous activities that put unnecessary pressure on the chest for at least four weeks, as this can slow the healing process and lead to excess swelling and bleeding. You should also avoid sleeping on your stomach for the first two weeks, and are advised to sponge bathe until the sutures are removed one to two weeks after your surgery.

Most people are able to return to work a week after having a breast lift, but for some people it may be longer. Don’t attempt to rush your recovery however as it may have the reverse effect and prolong things. If you need to take more time off work, do it.

It can take a couple of months to fully recover from your surgery and the final results can be seen.

There tends to be some numbness in the nipples and skin after breast lift surgery, which usually disappears in six weeks or so. However, in some rare cases this numbness can be permanent. Some patients experience a burning or tingling sensation in the breasts during breast lift recovery as the nerves begin to return to normal function.

Breast lift scars will be very noticeable for the first few months, often appearing red and lumpy. The scars will continue to fade into thin white lines over the next several months, but will never go away completely. Several treatment options are available to reduce the appearance of scars, including cortisone creams and silicone sheeting.

When considering the long-term results of breast lift surgery, many women feel that scars are a fair trade-off for firmer, younger-looking breasts. However, in some cases, abnormal breast lift scars can form, causing undesirable results.

The surgical technique used during your breast lift procedure will also influence the appearance of your scars. Your surgeon can help you understand the typical scarring associated with the standard (anchor) breast lift surgery, doughnut mastopexy, and laser bra lift techniques and determine which is appropriate for you.

To make sure your scars heal as well as possible, make sure you stick religiously to the recovery instructions given to you by your surgeon. If you have any concerns during your recovery discuss them with your surgeon.