Breast lift surgery, or mastopexy, restores a more youthful appearance to a woman’s breasts. Over the years breasts can lose their shape and firmness due to pregnancy, nursing, and loss of skin elasticity, causing them to sag. Mastopexy will raise and reshape breasts—slowing the effects of aging and gravity. This procedure can reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple.
Mastopexy is commonly performed in conjunction with breast augmentation (implants) to increase breast firmness and size. This may appeal to women who have lost breast volume after pregnancy. Pregnancy and nursing often result in stretched skin and therefore decreased volume. If you are planning a future pregnancy, it is advisable to postpone your breast lift as pregnancy will likely cause further stretching.
As with all plastic surgery, realistic expectations and emotional stability are important. Though breasts of any size can be lifted, women with smaller breasts enjoy longer lasting results.
Though not a simple operation, mastopexy is normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Mastopexy is occasionally performed in a hospital, but more often is done in an outpatient facility. Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia. Local anesthesia may be used with a sedative if the incision is small; you’ll be awake but relaxed and will feel minimal discomfort.
The surgery may take between 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. A more common approach involves an incision along the natural contour of the breast where the excess skin will be removed. The nipple and areola are then repositioned. The skin surrounding the areola is brought together to reshape the breast, with stitches around the areola and the lower breast area.
As with any surgery, there are possible complications. A patient may suffer an adverse reaction to the anesthesia (rare), or experience bleeding and infection following a breast lift, causing scars to widen. Poor healing and wider scars are more common with patients who smoke.
Because milk ducts are left intact, mastopexy will not affect your ability to breastfeed.
For best results, follow your physician’s advice both before and after surgery.
After Surgery: What to Expect
After surgery, your stitches will be covered with gauze and an elastic bandage or a surgical bra will hold the breasts in place. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and you may experience some mild discomfort for a couple of days. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication. A soft support bra replaces the bandages or surgical bra after a few days. In the recovery stage, it is important to wear the bra at all times.
After a week or two, the stitches will be removed. Some noticeable, permanent scarring is normal but easily covered by your bra or bathing suit. The scars may be red and lumpy for a few months, eventually fading and becoming less obvious. The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.
To ensure proper healing, plan to stay at home for at least a week before returning to work. You will need to avoid lifting anything over your head for 3-4 weeks and avoid strenuous sports for a month.