Breast lift, or "mastopexy" is a procedure to lift and reshape sagging breasts. Sagging breasts may be the result of pregnancy, nursing or age because of the effects of gravity and physiologic changes within the breast tissue. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag.
The best candidates for breast lift are women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts. Larger breasted women may require a breast reduction in order to lift their breasts. If your breasts are small or have lost volume--for example, after pregnancy--breast implants may need to be inserted in conjunction with mastopexy to increase both their firmness and their size. Mastopexy is usually not recommended if you are planning on having more children, because pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and deteriorate the results of the procedure.
The Preoperative visit
Consultation for a breast lift consists of a thorough discussion of the patient's desires and concerns. An examination and evaluation of the patient's breasts will be performed. The available surgical options, including a description of how the procedure is performed, will be reviewed. An idea of what results you can expect, including the limitations and risks of surgery, will also be discussed. A discussion of the variables that may affect the procedure such as age, the size and shape of the breasts, the condition of the skin, and whether an implant is advisable, will be reviewed.
Breast lift is performed as an outpatient at a surgical facility. Commonly general anesthesia is used. The surgical technique used and the location of the incisions depends on the patient's anatomy and the extent of the procedure. Preoperative markings are made with the patient in the sitting or standing position. The nipple and breast are raised and excess skin is removed. The new breast will be higher and firmer. Every effort will be made to assure that the incision is placed so resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible. However, Mastopexy can create noticeable, permanent scars, although they will be covered by the bra or bathing suit. Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions. 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. In most cases dissolvable sutures are used. The procedure takes between 2 to 4 hours depending of the severity and complexity of the case.
After surgery, the patient wears an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Patients may be sore for a period of time after surgery. Bruising and/or swelling may last for a few weeks to several months. Most patients are able to return to work in one to two weeks following surgery. Patients may be required to wear a surgical bra and limit their activities for several weeks following surgery.
The patients can expect significant improvement in the appearance of their breast. The longevity of the results, however, depend on many factors, including the size of the breasts, the quality of the skin and support tissue of the breast, and presence of an implant. Patients should keep in mind that mastopexy will not keep the breasts firm permanently. The effects of gravity, pregnancy, aging, and weight fluctuations will eventually cause further sagging of the breasts. Women who have implants along with their breast lift may find the results last longer.