Breast Lift surgery, or Mastopexy
, raises and reshapes sagging breasts.
Frequently Asked Questions.
How is the surgery performed?
Techniques vary, but the most common
procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour
of the breast. The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will
be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess
skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position.
The skin surrounding the areola is then brought down and together to reshape
the breast. Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical
line extending downwards from the nipple area, and along the lower crease
of the breast.
Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal
sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive
incisions. One such procedure is the "doughnut (or concentric) mastopexy,"
in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped
area of skin is removed.
If you're having an implant inserted along with your breast lift, it will
be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue, or deeper, under
the muscle of the chest wall.
Will the surgery result in permanent scarring?
Mastopexy leaves noticeable,
permanent scars, although they'll be covered by your bra or bathing suit.
(Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.)
How long does the procedure take?
Mastopexy usually takes one and
a half to three and a half hours.
How long is the recovery time?
You may be up and around in a day
or two, but don't plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending
on how you feel. Avoid lifting anything over your head for three to four
Will I need Anesthesia?
Breast lifts are usually performed under
general anesthesia, which means you'll sleep through the operation. In selected
patients, particularly when a smaller incision is being made, the surgeon
may use local anesthesia combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll
be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort.
Am I a good candidate for Breast Lift surgery?
The best candidates
for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally-stable women who are realistic about
what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in
women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but
the results may not last as long in heavy breasts.
Many women seek mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing have left them with
stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you're planning
to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift.
While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example,
mastopexy usually doesn't interfere with breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely
to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.
Before your procedure.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health and
explain which surgical techniques are most appropriate for you, based on
the condition of your breasts and skin tone. Photographs will be taken for
reference during surgery and after. The surgeon will also examine your breasts
and measure them while you're sitting or standing. Variables will be discussed
that may affect the procedure--such as your age, the size and shape of your
breasts, and the condition of your skin--and whether an implant is advisable.
You should also discuss where the nipple and areola will be positioned.
Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and if you're taking any medications,
vitamins, or other drugs.
Your surgeon will give you instructions to prepare for surgery, including
guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain
vitamins and medications.
While making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home
after your surgery and to assist you for a few days, if needed.
After your procedure.
Following surgery, you'll need to wear an elastic bandage or a surgical
bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable
for a couple days, but the pain shouldn't be severe. Any discomfort you
do feel can be relieved with medications prescribed by your surgeon.
Within a few days, the bandages or surgical bra will be replaced by a soft
support bra. You'll need to wear this bra over a layer of gauze around the
clock for three to four weeks. The stitches will be removed after a week
If your breast skin is very dry following surgery, you can apply a moisturizer
several times a day. Be careful not to tug at your skin in the process,
and keep the moisturizer away from the suture areas.
You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused
by the swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling
subsides over the next six weeks or so. In some patients, however, it may
last a year or more, and occasionally it may be permanent.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for resuming your normal
activities. You may be instructed to avoid sex for a week or more, and to
avoid strenuous sports for about a month. After that, you can resume these
activities slowly. If you become pregnant, the operation should not affect
your ability to breast-feed, since your milk ducts and nipples will be left