Mastopexy (Breast Lift)
What is a Breast Lift (Mastopexy)?
A breast lift or mastopexy may be an option when we are unable to perform a breast augmentation due to the excessive looseness of the skin. This is particularly common following pregnancy with breastfeeding and following weight loss.
Implants alone can improve loose skin if the nipple is at or above the underlying breast fold. If the nipple sags or hangs below the breast fold, placing an implant usually will not adequately raise the nipple, creating an unfavorable outcome with the breast still hanging off the implant. In these cases, there is a tightening of the skin and reshaping of the breast to allow augmentation.
Am I a Candidate for a Breast Lift?
To be a candidate for a breast lift procedure, the patient must be in good overall health, maintain a stable weight, and have realistic expectations. A woman who chooses to have a breast lift has one or more of the following:
- Sagging breasts
- Breasts that have lost shape or volume
- Breasts that are flat or elongated
- Nipples or areolas pointing downward
- One breast lower than the other
Any woman who plans to have (more) children should not undergo the breast lift procedure because pregnancy and nursing can affect its benefits.
Breast Lift procedure
Our team performs a Mastopexy on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, and usually takes 1 to 3 hours. Depending on size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin, we will use one of the following types of incisions:
- Two rings, one larger than the other, around the areola
- A keyhole shape, around the areola and down to the breast crease
- An anchor shape, beginning in the breast crease and extending up to and around the areola
The first type of incision (above) is used for small breasts and leaves the least amount of scarring; the third type is used for breasts with significant sagging.
After the surgeon makes the incisions, we remove breast tissue and reshape it to achieve the desired breast contour. The nipple and areola are usually moved higher on the breast or resized. We trim excess skin to create a tighter, more defined appearance. The surgeon will close the incisions with stitches.
Types of Breast Lifts
Periareolar Lift (Intermediate)
A periareolar lift, or an intermediate lift, is the main choice when only a small correction is necessary. In this case, the skin is more widely tightened up around the entire nipple areola, limiting the mastopexy scar to the border of the areola.
Full Breast Lift
In the case of an extremely loose breast with most of the gland hanging below the breast fold, we recommend a full breast lift. Dr. Lipton repositions the nipple to its new ideal location and the skin is tightened up around the entire breast mound, eliminating all or most of the skin which was hanging below the breast fold. In this case, it is necessary to place an incision on the lower pole of the breast which resembles an upside down “T”. These incisions are identical to a breast reduction. However, with a reduction, we remove a significant amount of breast tissue in addition to the skin. These procedures almost never require removal of the nipple, just repositioning, and in most cases, sensation and function remain intact.
Breast Lift with Implants
With each of the mastopexy procedures, Dr. Lipton is able to place breast implants simultaneously. A full breast lift, however, is occasionally performed without an implant, especially when there is already a substantial amount of breast tissue. In addition, with a full mastopexy, placing a very large implant is impractical and may be unsafe since the breast lift is trying to tighten the skin and the implant is trying to expand it. The implant may end up slightly out of position. More importantly, there is significant disruption of the normal blood flow within the breast and healing problems are far more common when we place implants at the time of a full mastopexy.
At the time of your examination, we’ll explain this more thoroughly. We’ll determine which approach is best for you and help you make decisions regarding breast augmentation simultaneously or as a future, separate procedure. Future augmentation following a full breast lift can allow excellent tightening and reshaping as well as a very large augmentation if that is your goal.
Results Of Breast Lift
Breast lift produces immediate results. As swelling subsides and scars fade, the patient’s breasts will continue to improve in appearance.
Breast Lift Recovery
Following a mastopexy, patients are likely to have bruising, soreness and swelling for a few days. Usually, the doctor will wrap the patient’s breasts in an elastic bandage or a surgical bra which they will wear for about a week. Following that, a support bra will then be worn continuously for a month. The doctor will remove the stitches after 1 to 2 weeks. Most patients may return to work within a week. Patients should also avoid exercise and other strenuous activity for about a month.