Breast Lift: Reasons and Procedures
- December 31, 2022
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A mastopexy (also known as breast lift surgery) is a surgery that enhances the shape of your breasts. In this procedure, the nipples are lifted, excess skin is removed, and the surrounding tissue is tightened. In addition, a mastopexy can reduce the size of enlarged areolae (the skin around the nipples).
Breast lift surgery is suitable for individuals who are unhappy with the appearance of their breasts. This surgery helps you have a more attractive appearance and more confidence.
Breast lifts should not be mistaken for breast augmentation or breast reduction. Unlike breast augmentation and breast reduction, breast lifts do not significantly change the size of the breasts, but the shape. Nonetheless, breast lifts and breast augmentation (or reduction) can be performed at the same time.
What can a breast lift do?
A breast lift is a good option if:
- the patient has saggy breasts.
- the nipples point downward, or they are below the breast creases.
- the patient has enlarged areolae.
- the breasts are disproportionate or asymmetrical.
The Causes of Sagging Breasts
Breasts may become saggy for various reasons:
- Aging: Throughout the aging process, the breasts will gradually become droopy and lose their firmness.
- Pregnancy: Since milk is produced and the breasts grow bigger during pregnancy, the breast ligaments have to stretch. This causes the breasts to sag. Therefore, if you plan on getting a mastopexy, it would be a good idea to undergo this surgery some time after your pregnancy.
- Breast feeding: Just like pregnancy, breast feeding can stretch the ligaments. Breast lift surgery could affect milk production, making it harder.
- Significant weight changes: Weight change makes the breasts stretch and causes droopiness.
These are some of the causes of sagging breasts. Breast lift surgery helps reshape the breasts into a more attractive position. Moreover, this procedure has better and longer-lasting results in patients with small, saggy breasts. Nevertheless, it can still be performed on heavy breasts, but their heaviness may eventually revert the effects.
The Risks of Breast Lift Surgery
Most surgeries generally involve risks of bleeding, infection, and anesthesia complications. In addition, breast lift surgery has other risks:
- Asymmetrical or disproportionate Breasts.
- Breast-feeding complications: As we mentioned earlier, breast lifts can make milk production more difficult.
- Breast sensation may change: The breasts may feel numb, less or more sensitive.
- Fat necrosis: The fatty tissue beneath the skin could die.
- Loss of the areolae or the nipples.
- Pain: The pain is usually temporary.
- Poor wound healing.
- Scarring: Scars gradually fade over time.
- Seroma: Fluid accumulation in the breasts. This fluid can be drained through different ways.
- Swelling: The swelling will normally subside after a while.
Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you and will only proceed with your consent.
Preparing for a Breast Lift
First, you will have a meeting with your doctor where you discuss everything related to the surgery. This involves:
- Your medical background, current medical conditions, and whether you are on any medication. If anyone in your family has had breast cancer, inform your surgeon. They will likely ask you to stop taking medications that can inflict more bleeding, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements that cause bleeding.
- Your goals and expectations of the surgery. Be clear and straightforward about what you want to achieve. If you wish to have a breast augmentation/reduction at the same time, ask them if it is possible.
- The risks of a breast lift.
- Questions that you have regarding the surgery. It is advised that you make a list of questions before the consultation.
Furthermore, healthy candidates make the best patients. So try to exercise, have a healthy diet, and keep a steady weight. You will also be asked to stop smoking if you are a smoker. Smoking can increase the chances of complications and risks.
You will undergo a physical examination in which the doctor inspects the breasts, the nipples, and the skin of the breasts. You may also need to get a baseline mammogram before and after the mastopexy so that future changes in the breast tissue can be recognized.
Breast Lift Procedure
Breast lift surgery is conducted mostly as an outpatient surgery. This means you can go home without staying at the hospital overnight. Your surgeon will choose the most suitable technique based on the shape of your breasts, how saggy they are, and how much excess skin there is.
- In the first stage, anesthesia will be administered. The surgeon may choose to use either IV sedation or general anesthesia.
- Then the surgeon proceeds to make the incisions. There are three patterns for the incisions:
- Horizontal incisions along the breast creases
- Incisions around the areolae
- Vertical, downward incisions from the areola toward the breast crease
- After the incisions have been made, the surgeon tries to reshape the tissue and lift the breasts. Extra skin is removed and the nipples are repositioned. In case you arranged with your doctor to simultaneously get breast implants, the doctor inserts the implants.
- In the final stage, the surgeon closes the incisions using skin adhesives, surgical tape, or stitches.
These are the steps of a breast lift procedure:
The surgery will take approximately 3 hours. You will be discharged after a few hours. Just make sure you have someone to drive you home.
Recovery after Breast Lift Surgery
- Your doctor will tell you to wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra to support the breasts and speed up the healing process.
- You may have to take certain medications and antibiotics.
- Take good care of your incisions after breast lift surgery and do not expose them to pressure.
- To prevent seroma (fluid accumulation), your surgeon will insert a small tube beneath the skin. This tube helps drain excess fluid.
- Your breasts may temporarily feel more or less sensitive, or even numb after surgery.
- Your doctor will remove the bandages after 48 hours. The stitches will also be removed after roughly 14 days.
- Refrain from doing any strenuous activities for several weeks. Light exercises such as walking are fine.
- You can probably go back to work after one or two weeks. Of course, if your job requires vigorous physical activities, you should wait longer before going back.
- Avoid having sex for 14 days.
You will be able to see the effects immediately after your breast lift. However, these are not the final results, since it will take several months for your breasts to take their final form. Bear in mind that aging and gravity will affect the shape of your breasts in the long run, no matter what. Sagging is especially more common among individuals with heavier breasts. With that being said, leading a healthy life and keeping a steady weight can preserve the results longer.
Your breasts will have a firmer shape after the surgery, and although their size will not change substantially, your former bra size may not fit them anymore.
The scars from surgery are permanent, but they will subside and become less noticeable over time.
Breast Lift: Costs and Insurance
A breast lift normally costs $4500-$5000. However, this does not cover the total cost. As with any other surgery, there are other factors involved in the surgery for which you have to pay separately. Other costs involve:
- Anesthesia costs
- Costs for the operation room
- Medical tests
- Prescriptions for medicine
The surgeon’s experience also affects the price of your surgery.
Insurance usually does not cover breast lift surgery. This is because breast lifts are typically cosmetic surgeries; consequently, insurance only covers breast lifts that serve a medical purpose. For example, insurance would cover a mastopexy (a surgery to stop breast cancer using a breast lift).
Can I breastfeed after a breast lift?
Yes, you can. However, breast lift surgery may affect milk production and make it harder for the body to produce enough milk.
Will the scars be visible right after surgery?
Yes, but you can conceal them under a bra or a bikini. And through time, they will fade.
What questions should I ask during my consultation?
- Is the surgeon certified?
- Will the surgery be performed in an accredited facility?
- Am I a good candidate?
- What do I need to do to get the intended results?
- How long will the recovery take? When can I go back to my daily routine and start exercising again?
- What medications should I take after the surgery?
- How often should I visit for follow-up consultations?
- What will my breasts look like after the procedure?
- What should I do if I’m unhappy with the results?
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