Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure? What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How will my ability to breastfeed be affected?
- How can I expect my lifted breasts to look over time? After pregnancy? After breastfeeding?
1. Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
A breast lift addresses several issues including sagging and uneven breasts, decreased breast volume, drooping nipples, and stretched areolas (the darker area surrounding the nipples) to recreate a youthful shape and lift to your breasts. If you’ve become increasingly unhappy about the sagging of your breasts, you may wonder what surgery can do. If there is too little or too much breast volume, a breast augmentation or breast reduction might be recommended in addition to a lift.
The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider a breast lift:
- Breasts that are pendulous but adequate in size.
- Breasts that lack substance or firmness.
- Nipples and areolas that point downward, especially if they are positioned below the breast crease.
- Breasts that appear different from each other; one breast may appear firm and well positioned while the other does not.
- Breasts that are not equal in size.
- Breasts that are relatively small.
- Breasts that are large and heavy can be lifted, but the results may not be as long-lasting as a breast lift performed on smaller breasts; the weight of larger breasts works against surgical changes.
- You are finished with childbearing and breast-feeding. If you plan to have children, you may want to postpone cosmetic breast surgery. Pregnancy may stretch the breasts and reduce their volume, compromising surgery benefits.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
2. Where and how will you perform my procedure? What surgical technique is recommended for me?
Here is a description of the different incision patterns and techniques that Dr. Hsu will choose from:
- The "anchor" incision, made around the perimeter of the areola, vertically down from the areola to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease, produces the most scarring. It is for women with a severe degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by less invasive techniques. This incision, which is the oldest technique, is often used for a breast lift in conjunction with a breast reduction.
- The "lollipop" lift, also known as a "keyhole" incision, made around the perimeter of the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease, is suitable for women with a moderate degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by the periareolar technique and who do not want breast implants.
- The "donut" lift, also known as the "periareolar incision," made around the perimeter of the areola only, is suitable for women with a mild-to-moderate degree of sagging. When used in conjunction with the placement of implants, it can produce a satisfactory result for patients with more pronounced sagging.
- The "crescent" lift, which is less commonly used, is an incision that lies just along the upper half of the areola. A crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed above that line, and the surrounding skin is reattached to the areola. This type of lift is usually done in conjunction with breast augmentation in women with minor sagging. It cannot accomplish the same degree of lifting as the other incision techniques.
- The "scarless" lift. For a select few women concerned more about volume loss than actual sagging, there are procedures to lift the appearance of the breast that are touted as scarless.
3. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
After your breast lift procedure is completed, dressings will be applied to the incisions. You’ll need to wear a support bra to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal. If necessary, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect after breast lift surgery. You will be given specific instructions that may include: how to care for your breasts following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, and when to come in for your follow up appointments.
Recovery time frame after breast lift surgery
It is important that you follow all patient care instructions provided. This will include information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains, taking a prescribed antibiotic and the level and type of physical activity that is safe. We will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first week
The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short periods of time. After several days, you should be able to move about more comfortably. Avoid straining, bending, and lifting since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. It is advised to sleep on your back to avoid pressure on your breasts. Any surgical drains will be removed within a few days of surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. For two to five days, your chest region may feel stiff and sore.
Two weeks to six weeks
After breast lift surgery it is often possible to return to work within a week or so, depending on your job. You should avoid excessive physical activity for at least the first six weeks following surgery. Avoid sexual activity for a minimum of one or two weeks. After that, take care to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next couple of weeks. You will be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks until the swelling and discoloration of your breasts diminish. You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas. This is usually temporary; however, it may take weeks, months or even more than a year before sensation returns to normal. Your breasts may require some time to assume a more natural shape as they heal. Incisions will initially be red or pink. They will remain this way for many months following surgery. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks. Usually after six weeks, patients can resume their regular physical regimen. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. If you have severe pain, report it to us immediately.
4. What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
Fortunately, significant complications from breast lifts are infrequent. Your specific risks for breast lift will be discussed during your consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions given, both before and after your breast lift.
5. How will my ability to breastfeed be affected?
If you are an appropriate candidate, a breast lift can be performed before you become – or are actively planning to become – pregnant. If you are interested in breast lift surgery after pregnancy, then you will need to delay surgery for several months after you are finished lactating. This is to reduce the risk of infections and cysts after breast lift surgery. If you are between pregnancies, and are planning to have more children in the not-too-distant future, then you may choose to hold off on breast lift surgery until you are finished having children. This is because subsequent pregnancies are progressively more likely to change the shape of your breast even after breast lift surgery. By waiting, a more long-lasting result can be achieved, and may save you from wanting “touch-up” surgeries that ultimately add recovery time and cost.
6. How can I expect my lifted breasts to look over time? After pregnancy? After breastfeeding?
If a breast lift is performed properly, your breasts should not return to their preoperative droop for decades, assuming you don't have significant weight fluctuations or go through pregnancy. Some settling may occur, but the new nipple position should remain intact.