‘Mastopexy’ removes excess breast skin to raise, reshape and firm breasts. Nipples and areolas (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipples) are repositioned and the areolas are sometimes reduced in size. Implants may be inserted in conjunction with a breast lift to increase breast volume.
Skin elasticity diminishes as we age and noticeably, breasts begin to sag and lose their shape. A breast lift restores firmness and shape and when combined with a breast augmentation, achieves greater volume and firmness. Surgeons can also reduce areola size if this is a personal concern. You should be thoroughly informed before considering any surgery and as such, your Board-certified plastic surgeon will require a personal consultation before proceeding further.
Breast lift surgery is similar to breast reduction in that both involve creating anchor-shaped incisions. However, a breast lift requires the surgeon to remove excess skin rather than underlying tissue. As mentioned, a breast implant can then augment breast size and shape if desired.
An incision is made around the areola and the nipple is adjusted to a higher position. Excess skin is trimmed, leaving a pattern to create the desired shape upon closure. Breast implants may be inserted prior to suturing. Gauze dressings are applied and held in place by bandages or a surgical bra. A support bra should then be worn for several weeks while the breasts heal.
Risks and Complications
Although rare, surgical procedures can encounter complications. Some patients lose sensation in their nipples and areolas, (typically following significant repositioning). There is also the risk of bleeding, infection or excessive scarring. Patients who opt for breast augmentation during a breast lift should be aware of possible post-surgical complications associated with breast implants.
Breast lift surgery may not always meet expectation, so it is best to be realistic, particularly with inherited traits. In certain cases, one breast develops differently so that one is firm and well positioned while the other is not. Other cases that may not achieve as noticeable results are:
- pendulous breasts of satisfactory size
- breasts that currently lack substance or firmness
- nipples and areolas that point downwards, especially if positioned below the breast creases.
Breast lifts can be performed at any age, although some surgeons recommend waiting until breast development ceases. Breast lift surgery will not affect your ability to breastfeed.
Do You Need A Lift?
Your surgeon will assess and examine your breasts, taking measurements and perhaps photographs for medical records. The size and shape of your breasts, the quality of your skin and nipple and areola positioning will be carefully evaluated. It’s important that you share vital medical history and information (known medical conditions, drug allergies, treatments previously received, previous surgeries, including breast biopsies plus any medications you currently take or have taken in the past).
Individual factors and personal preferences will determine the specific technique to lift your breasts.
The most common method involves three incisions. One is made around the areola, another runs vertically from the lowest edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast and the third incision is horizontal beneath the breast and follows the natural curve of the breast creases. After excess breast skin is removed, the nipple and areola are relocated to a higher position. Stretched areola from sagging breasts can then be reduced in size. (The nipples and areolas remain attached to underlying mounds of tissue, in an attempt to preserve sensation and the ability to breastfeed).
Fortunately, significant complications from breast lifts are infrequent as thousands of women undergo successful breast lifts every year, but you need to be aware of both the benefits and risks. Potential complications include bleeding, infection and reactions to anaesthesia. Following your surgeon’s advice and instructions before and after surgery to reduce your risk.
Preparing for Surgery
Your surgeon will advise you of your preoperative instructions, which usually include avoiding certain medications (Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs as they increase bleeding). Smokers will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Depending on your age, you’ll be able to perform breast self-examination, post surgery. The surgery will not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
D-Day… or should that be B-Day?
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure, with general anaesthetic often being the preference (so that you are asleep throughout). When the surgery is complete, you will be closely monitored. Small drainage tubes may be placed in your breast to assist with accumulating fluids. Gauze or other dressings may be placed on your breasts and covered with an elastic bandage or surgical bra.
You’ll be encouraged to get out of bed for short period of time following one day’s bed rest and you should be able to move about more comfortably in the following days. Straining, bending and lifting should be avoided as you may unnecessarily increase swelling or bleeding. If possible, sleep on your back to avoid unnecessary pressure on your breasts. Stiches will be removed approximately three weeks following surgery, and you will then need to wear a supportive bra for a few weeks.
It is often possible to return to work within a week or so, depending on your role. Most normal activities can be resumed, including some forms of mild exercise (after several weeks). You should immediately report severe pain to your doctor. Sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of one or two weeks.
Breast lift surgery will firm and uplift your breasts. The position of your areolas and nipples will be enhanced, and the size of your areolas will be aesthetically pleasing.
Standard hospital procedure requires that your surgeon perform laboratory investigations and/or diagnostic examinations to ensure that you are fit for surgery, prior to hospital admission and surgery.
Time required: One to three house
Anaesthesia: General or local with sedation.
- Temporary bruising
- Dry skin
- Permanent scars
Back to work: Within one week or more
More strenuous activity: Allow one month
Scars will fade: Within several months to a year (possibly longer)
Note: This information acts as a guide to your possible treatment. Your individual concerns and specific medical history will need to be shared and discussed with your surgeon during your initial consultation.