Many women are happy with the size of their breasts but wish them to be more shapely, perky, or positioned higher on their chest. A woman’s breasts may droop as a result of the natural effects of aging and gravity, or subsequent to pregnancy, breastfeeding or weight loss. A breast lift, also called a mastopexy, is performed to restore a more youthful shape to breasts that have sagged or lost perkiness.
A breast lift is designed to rejuvenate the breasts by trimming excess skin and reshaping the underlying breast tissue to achieve an uplifted, youthful contour. After a mastopexy, the breasts are higher on the chest, firmer and perkier. Breast lifts can also reposition and reduce the size of the areola – the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple – which may have stretched out or drooped. Women who have lost breast volume may opt to choose concurrent breast augmentation with either saline or silicone implants at the time of their breast lift. Conversely, those who have already undergone breast augmentation may benefit from a breast lift when considering breast implant removal or a decrease in the size of their implants.
Candidates for Breast Lift
The best candidates for breast lift are women whose breasts meet some or all of the following conditions:
- Breasts are sagging or droopy
- Breasts have lost shapeliness
- Breasts are flat, elongated, or pendulous
- Breast skin and/or areola is stretched out
- Nipple points downward
- Nipple is located below the level of the breast crease
- Asymmetry where one breast is lower than the other
It is also very important that breast lift candidates maintain a stable weight, are generally healthy, do not smoke and have realistic expectations for surgery. Women planning to have children may be advised to postpone surgery, since pregnancy and nursing with their inherent hormonal effects will have unpredictable consequences on breast tissue.
Breast Lift Procedure
Dr. Hutchinson performs mastopexy surgery in the privacy of her AAAASF accredited Operating Room in her office. Alternatively, patients may undergo a breast lift in one of the NYC hospitals where she practices. The operation is most often done on an outpatient basis under general anaesthesia, and lasts from 1 to 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
- Choice of concurrent breast augmentation with saline or silicone breast implants
The three most common incision types are two rings around the areola in a doughnut shape (small-incision mastopexy, generally only recommended for patients with small breasts and minimal sagging); around the areola and down to the breast crease in a lollipop shape; and the lollipop with an additional half-moon incision along the breast crease, in an anchor shape.
In all cases, breast lift surgery begins with administration of anesthesia or IV sedation. Dr. Hutchinson makes the necessary incisions, and then she 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 surgical tape. Incisions result in scars which usually fade with time and become less visible.
Recovery from Breast Lift
After surgery, the breasts are wrapped with gauze dressings, and you may need to wear a surgical bra. After a few days, this is replaced with a soft support bra, which is worn for several weeks.
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 absorbable and will gradually dissolve over a few weeks, and many patients return to work within a week of their surgery.
Results of Breast Lift
Dr. Hutchinson will have an in-depth discussion about your goals and expectations from your breast lift surgery, and most patients are extremely satisfied with the look of their lifted breasts. You will 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.
Risks of Breast Lift
Possible complications of a breast lift include bleeding, infection, numbness, uneven positioning or a buildup of fluid. These risks are considered rare and are usually only temporary if they do occur. Dr. Hutchinson will discuss these risks with you prior to treatment.
The Breast Lift Patient’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I a good candidate for breast lift surgery?
A: Women who may benefit from breast lift surgery do not seek a change in the volume or size of their breasts – but they are unhappy with the shape of their breasts, position of their nipples and/or areolas, or a combination of both. They often experience one or more of the following:
- feel that their breasts look too low or are sagging on their chest, such as after pregnancy and breastfeeding or weight loss
- have nipples that are low-set on their breasts
- lost skin elasticity resulting in sagging breasts
- have asymmetric breasts with one breast lower than the other, and would like improved symmetry
- have a congenital breast deformity such as tuberous breasts, with enlarged, downward pointing nipples and areolas
Q: What should I expect during my breast lift consultation?
A: Your initial consultation with Dr. Hutchinson includes the following:
- a comprehensive in-person discussion with Dr. Hutchinson when she will obtain your medical history and you will have time to explain what bothers you about your breasts and what results you hope to achieve with surgery
- after your conversation, you will be seen in a private examination room where she will perform a detailed physical examination and assess your unique physical characteristics
- she will also take medical photographs which provide additional information when discussing your breast surgery
- following your examination, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss plastic surgery options, determine the best customized surgical plan for you to achieve your goals, and review your medical photographs with you
- Dr. Hutchinson will also provide you with specific details regarding the bespoke breast operation she creates for you as each patient’s plan is custom designed based on individual features and desired outcome
- she will also inform you of what is required from you before and after your breast lift surgery to ensure a successful operation and smooth recovery
- you will be given ample time to ask any questions you have in order to feel comfortable with your decision
- you will also have an opportunity to schedule your breast lift once you decide to proceed
Q: How will my breasts look after my breast lift surgery?
A: Women who undergo breast lift surgery can expect a change in their breasts to higher position, perkier shape, and overall more youthful appearance, all the while maintaining the same breast size. In order to help you understand what results are achievable with breast lift and what is the best possible option for you, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss with you specific details of your current breast shape and physical characteristics. For some patients, concurrent breast augmentation surgery may be advisable to improve the aesthetic outcome. Factors that may impact your results include the following:
- your current breast shape, including:
- amount of breast sagging (“ptosis”)
- volume and weight of the breasts
- distribution of breast volume, i.e. at the top of bottom aspects of the breasts
- position of your nipples
- size and shape of areolas
- skin characteristics, such as:
- amount of excess skin
- skin quality (elasticity and tone)
- breast scars from prior surgery
- breast asymmetry or differences between the breasts in terms of:
- breast volume, shape, and width
- breast sagging (“ptosis”)
- nipple position
- areola size and shape
Q: How should I prepare for my breast lift surgery?
A: Dr. Hutchinson provides her patients with detailed and precise instructions to be followed prior to their breast lift surgery, which include the following:
- Dr. Hutchinson will make recommendations for each patient including:
- breast imaging including mammogram, sonogram, and/or MRI as necessary
- requirements for medical clearance and bloodwork prior to surgery
- patients should be active participants in optimizing their wellness, including:
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle, diet, and weight
- avoiding smoking
- not taking medications that can increase risk of complications
Q: What should I expect after my breast lift?
A: Every patient will have her own personal experience and recovery after breast lift surgery, although some common aspects of their post-operative course include the following:
- changes are immediate and results long lasting
- some discomfort, swelling, and bruising are normal in the first few days after surgery
- you should wear the surgical brassiere provided after surgery
- it is essential you refrain from strenuous physical activity after surgery and closely follow the detailed instructions provided by Dr. Hutchinson
- breast tissues and scars continue to heal over time until final results are obtained