Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
What is a Breast Lift?
Over time, the effects of gravity and the loss of the skin’s natural elasticity begin to have an effect on the appearance of a woman’s breasts. These factors, combined with pregnancies and nursing, will often cause the breasts to lose their youthful shape and firmness. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is performed to return youthful shape and lift to breasts that have sagged as a result of weight loss, pregnancy, loss of the skin’s natural elasticity or simply the effects of gravity. The procedure can also reduce the size of the areola (the darker skin surrounding the nipple).
The traditional technique for this procedure entails an incision that encircles the areola, continues vertically down the breast, and traces the inframammary fold. The resultant breast shape and lines of closure will be aesthetically pleasing, and the breast shape conical and rounded, not boxy or square.
Types of Breast Lifts:
A different approach to this procedure is referred to as the vertical mammaplasty. This technique was modified by Madame Madeline Lejour, M.D., a Belgian plastic surgeon, in 1989. The vertical mammaplasty, or Lejour technique, as it is often referred to, entails an incision around the areola with a vertical limb only. There is no horizontal incision beneath the breast mound, and liposuction at the breast base is used to improve overall contour. This distinguishing feature, as well as the creation of a final breast shape, which is consistently conical, make this technique, in select individuals, preferable to the traditional approach described above. Dr. Walden will determine if this procedure is appropriate for you at your consultation.
Dr. Walden performs both the traditional technique and the vertical mammaplasty. In her opinion, the vertical mammaplasty, for appropriate patients, is preferred because it leaves less scarring. The procedure can be performed alone or in combination with breast augmentation.
“I feel better and look better. I’m more confident about the size and shape of my breasts and the way they look. I had more than a breast lift. I had a lift, reduction and new implants put in. It was a long, complex surgery and Dr Walden did a beautiful job. Her nurses, especially Michelle, were wonderful and considerate.” Breast Lift Patient of Jennifer Walden, MD
“I felt very comfortable with Dr. Walden. I believe that she understood my wants and needs better than the 2 male dr.’s that I visited with before her. Dr. Walden appears to be a perfectionist – which makes me trust her with my surgery.” Breast Lift Patient of Jennifer Walden, MD
What can a breast lift do for me?
Breast lifts rejuvenate the breasts by trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissues to achieve an uplifted, youthful contour. After a mastopexy, the breasts are higher on the chest and firmer to the touch. Breast lifts can also reposition and reduce the size of the areola – the dark skin surrounding the nipple – which may have stretched or drooped.
Breast size does not change after a breast lift, nor does the fullness or roundness in the upper part of the breasts. Women who desire larger, smaller or more rounded breasts may want to consider a breast augmentation or breast reduction together with a breast lift.
Am I a good candidate for a breast lift?
The best candidates for breast lift are women whose breasts meet some or all of the following conditions:
- Breasts sag
- Breasts have lost shape or volume
- Breasts are flat, elongated or pendulous (hanging)
- Breast skin and/or areola is stretched
- Nipples or areolas point downward
- One breast is lower than the other
- Nipples or areolas are located in the breast crease when breasts are unsupported
It is also very important that breast lift candidates:
- Maintain a stable weight
- Are generally healthy
- Do not smoke
- Discuss realistic goals with their plastic surgeon
Who should not consider a breast lift?
Women planning to have children are advised to postpone surgery, because pregnancy and nursing can counteract a breast lift’s effects by stretching the skin.
Mastopexy does not affect breast size or upper fullness. Women who desire larger, smaller or more rounded breasts may want to consider a breast augmentation or breast reduction either together with a breast lift or instead of a breast lift.
Hows is mastopexy performed?
Mastopexy may be performed in a hospital or in our accredited on-site operating room. It is usually done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, and lasts from 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours.
There are several types of incision methods that can be used when performing a breast lift. The technique a surgeon chooses depends on the patient’s:
- Breast size and shape
- Degree of sagging
- Size and position of the areolas/nipples
- Amount of excess skin
- Skin quality
Three common types of incisions used in breast lifts are a doughnut-shaped incision around the areola (small-incision mastopexy, generally only recommended for patients with small breasts and minimal sagging); a lollipop-shaped incision around the areola and down to the breast crease; and a lollipop-shaped incision with an additional half-moon incision, in an anchor shape, along the breast crease.
In all cases, breast lift surgery begins with administration of anesthesia or IV sedation. Dr. Walden makes the necessary incisions, and then lifts and reshapes the breast tissue into its new, rejuvenated contour. She moves the nipple and areola higher on the breast, and removes extra skin around the perimeter if the areola is enlarged. Finally, she trims the excess breast skin that resulted from poor elasticity. Stitches layered deep throughout the breast tissue support the lifted breasts.
When the mastopexy is complete, the skin is closed with stitches, tissue adhesive and/or surgical tape. Some of the incisions are hidden in the breast crease. Others will be visible. All scars will mature with time.
What is the recovery from breast lift like?
After surgery, the breasts are wrapped with gauze dressings, and you may need to wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra. After a few days, the bandage or surgical bra is replaced with a soft support bra, which is worn 24 hours a day for about a month.
The breasts will probably be bruised, swollen and uncomfortable after surgery, but this will pass in a few days. Any numbness in the breasts and nipples should lessen as swelling subsides. Stitches are removed after one to two weeks, and many patients return to work then.
Will I like the result of my breast lift?
If you agreed on realistic goals with Dr. Walden, you should be very satisfied with the look of your lifted breasts. You’ll be able to see the results of your mastopexy immediately after surgery, and you may become even more satisfied as swelling goes down and incision lines fade.
What are the risks of mastopexy?
Possible complications of a breast lift include:
- Temporary or permanent numbness in the nipple or areola
- Uneven positioning or shape of breasts or nipples
- Widening of scars
- Poor incision healing
- Fluid buildup
- Breast hardening
- Damage or necrosis of breast tissues
- Need for revision surgery