Women choose to undergo breast lift surgery for a variety of personal reasons. A breast lift can ultimately provide significant rejuvenation to the breasts, enhancing projection and firmness while producing a more youthful appearance. Dr. Joseph Mele, our board-certified plastic surgeon, can talk with you about your goals and expectations. If breast lift surgery is ideal for your needs, Dr. Mele can develop a customized breast lift treatment plan designed to create beautiful, natural-looking results.
What Is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift (mastopexy) is performed to change the shape of the breasts and produce a more youthful and “perky” aesthetic. Aging, pregnancy, and weight loss can negatively impact the appearance of the breasts. Each can cause the breasts to soften and sag. If the problem is purely a loss of volume, breast implants may provide the solution; however, when the breast skin is overstretched and can no longer support the weight of the breast, a breast lift can usually provide a better result.
Breast Lift Before-and-After Photos
Am I a Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?
Breast lift surgery, like breast augmentation, is an elective procedure, so the criteria that patients must meet are higher than for any other surgery. Elective surgery should only be performed on healthy patients who have any medical conditions well controlled. Medications or habits that are known to increase risks or complications should be avoided. Your plastic surgeon will go over your medical history, medication, vitamins, supplements, and habits prior to surgery.
Existing medical conditions and their treatment should be reviewed to be certain that it is safe for you to have a breast lift. Certain treatments may need to be temporarily stopped or modified, and your primary doctor may need to be recruited to help.
If you have recently been pregnant, you will need to wait until all milk production stops for at least three months before having surgery. Added time also allows your breast to take on their new post-pregnancy shape and allow for safer and more predictable results. If you are considering having more children, you may want to delay your breast lift.
Certain medications can increase the risk of surgery. Some may increase the risk of bleeding, while others may interfere with anesthesia. Everything you ingest, other than food, needs to be disclosed. Many supplements and herbal preparations can cause significant problems and should be discussed prior to surgery.
Habits like smoking and vaping will increase the risk of any surgery, but for breast lifts, tummy tucks, and face lifts, these habits are especially dangerous. Study after study shows the risk of wound complications increases six-fold for smokers. Most doctors recommend smoking cessation for four weeks before and after surgery, and some doctors recommend longer. Be sure to check with your doctor.
Expectations are the number one cause of dissatisfaction after plastic surgery. Even when the operation goes perfectly, if you are expecting unobtainable results, you will be disappointed. Spend the time to review what a breast lift can and can’t do. Before and after pictures can help, but they cannot guarantee results. Be honest with your plastic surgeon about what you expect so that they can be honest with you about the likely result. If you have reasonable expectations, your experience will be better and the chances of disappointment are greatly reduced.
What Are the Different Types of Breast Lift Surgery?
There are many different types of breast lift procedures. Some produce small scars and can lift a small amount. Others can reposition the entire breast and require longer incisions. Here is a list of the five most frequently performed breast lift procedures:
Crescent Mastopexy: The crescent breast lift is performed by making an incision around the top of the areola (the pigmented skin around the nipple). This lift is more of a nipple lift than a true breast lift. It is good for minor lifting of the nipple. Trying to move the nipple too far will lead to a distorted shape. The breast tissue cannot be lifted with a crescent lift.
PeriAreolar Mastopexy: The periareolar breast lift involves an incision made around the areola, and allows for one to two centimeters of lifting. This lift is often performed with a breast augmentation in cases where there is borderline ptosis (sagging), or without a breast implant for areola reduction with or without tubular breast deformity.
Vertical Mastopexy, Lollipop Lift: The vertical breast lift adds a vertical scar to a periareolar lift (described above). It is a variation on the Inverted-T technique listed below, but without the IMF scar (in the fold under the breast). The vertical breast lift can truly lift the breast and can push the nipple further up on the breast mound.
Horizontal Mastopexy: The horizontal breast lift adds a horizontal inframammary fold (IMF) scar to the periareolar lift. The horizontal mastopexy is one of the least used breast lifts. It requires a long narrow breast. It is a variation on the Inverted-T technique that omits the vertical scar. To avoid the vertical scar, the nipple needs to be more than 7 centimeters lower than the final desired placement. This horizontal breast lift works best for long, narrow breasts. The IMF scar is usually well-hidden in the curve at the base of the breast.
Inverted-T Lift, Anchor Lift, Keyhole Lift
Anchor Mastopexy, Inverted-T Mastopexy, Keyhole Mastopexy: The anchor breast lift is one of the most frequently performed breast lifts, and is the gold standard to which all other lifts are compared. It is a versatile breast lift that improves the shape of the breast, even in cases of severely overstretched or deflated breasts. Lifts do not add volume, so if you desire larger breasts, breast implants can be used with the lift to boost the cup size at the same time.
How Is the Breast Lift Procedure Performed?
How the procedures are performed depends on the type of breast lift needed. Periareolar lifts are small and may take an hour, while more complicated lifts, such as the Inverted-T Lift, may take several hours in order to achieve a meticulous closure and the best possible aesthetic results. Shorter lifts may be performed under local anesthesia, while larger lifts usually require general anesthesia. Either way, breast lifts are performed in an accredited surgery center on an outpatient basis, so you can go home the same day.
During your breast lift procedure, Dr. Mele removes excess skin from the breasts to lift and reshape them. The amount of excess skin determines how much lifting is needed and the type of lift performed. Incisions may be confined to a small, circular incision around the areola (periareolar) when a little lift is needed, an anchor-shaped incision on the lower breast to provide maximum lifting (inverted-T), or something in between.
Excess skin and tissue is removed, while the deep dermis is preserved to provide internal support. The remaining breast tissue is lifted and tightened. The nipples and surrounding areolae are positioned higher on the breasts. Nipples are not usually removed from the breast. They remain attached to the breast tissue to maintain sensation and circulation.
Breast Lift Videos
What Is Breast Lift Recovery Like?
Recovery for breast lifts is usually not very painful, but it does vary depending on the type of lift performed. For the crescent and periareolar breast lifts, healing is quick and the recovery is usually a few days. Since the vertical and anchor mastopexies are performed for larger breasts with increased sagging, the procedures are more involved and the recovery can take a few weeks.
Regardless of the type of breast lift, your first follow-up visit is usually within a week of your procedure. The sutures used are absorbable, so removal is not necessary. Healing is usually rapid, so the majority of the follow-up visits are dedicated to obtaining the best possible scar. Scar massage and topical silicone have both been shown to clinically improve the resultant scars. Be certain to ask Dr. Mele about methods for maximizing the results of your mastopexy.
What Is a Breast Lift with Augmentation?
Breast lifts can be combined with breast augmentation when patients desire to add both volume and lift the breasts. They are complementary, as the breast lift helps shape the breast and position the nipple, while the breast augmentation adds missing volume. Alternatively, if the breasts are too large, a breast reduction is performed.
Breast Lift with Augmentation Before-and-After Photos
What Is a Breast Lift with Breast Augmentation Revision Surgery?
For patients with previous breast augmentation, the breast lift may be part of a more comprehensive breast augmentation revision surgery. If you have breast implants and you have experienced weight gain, weight loss, or pregnancy, the skin and breast tissue in front of the breast implants may have dropped. This leads to elongated breasts that sometimes hang off the breast implants and is often called a waterfall deformity.
A breast lift can reposition the breast tissue back over the breast implants, restoring the breasts to a more youthful shape and position. If a change in size or style is desired, the breast implants can be changed at the same time. Be sure to ask about all your options.
How Noticeable Are Breast Lift Scars?
The number one concern about mastopexy is the scars. Where the scars are and how they will heal are the most common questions Dr. Mele receives during consultations. Types of breast lift are not interchangeable. A lift with more scars lifts more, and a lift with fewer scars lifts less. Your plastic surgeon will let you know how this pertains to your breasts. The goal is to maximize lifting, while minimizing scars.
The appearance of scars varies from patient to patient. The ideal scar is flat, narrow, and matches the surrounding skin. Even the best scar is noticeable, and a prerequisite for a breast lift is accepting the fact that there will be a scar.
There are three factors that affect how the incision heals:
- Surgical Technique
- Perioperative Care
- The Genetics of Your Wound Healing
Two out of three we have control over. Selecting the correct lift, performing it in the correct environment, and using the best techniques all increase the chances of a good scar. Scar placement and meticulously layered surgical closure also help. Following preoperative instructions and postoperative wound care also help tremendously. Genetics, at least at this time, cannot be modified; however, if you have had previous cuts, how they have healed can give us a clue as to how your breast may heal. The appearance of your scar is expected to improve over time with proper treatment and as the scar matures.
How Much Does a Breast Lift Cost?
The cost of a breast lift varies widely because the procedure includes a wide range of techniques. Smaller lifts take less time and cost less, while larger lifts are more complicated, take longer, and cost more. Once the type of lift needed is determined an estimate is provided for the procedure, including anesthesia costs and operating room time.
If desired, our office also offers financing through several third party lenders. More information about financing is available on our plastic surgery financing page. We also accept all major credit cards.
Contact Dr. Mele
If you are interested in learning more about breast lift surgery, please contact our cosmetic surgery office today. Give us a call at (925) 943-6353. The office is open weekdays 9 AM – 5 PM.