Breast lift (Mastopexy)
Breast lift surgery, or mastopexy, restores a more youthful appearance to a woman’s breasts.
Over the years breasts can lose their shape and firmness due to pregnancy, nursing, weight loss, and normal aging. The resulting loss of skin elasticity causes breasts to become ptotic (droopy).
Mastopexy can raise and reshape breasts as well as reduce the size of enlarged areola (the darker skin around the nipple). Some size reduction is required to make these changes. Mastopexy will reverse and slow the effects of aging and gravity, but not stop these inevitable processes.
Though not a simple operation, mastopexy is normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Breast lifts may be performed under general anesthesia versus local anesthesia with sedation, depending on the extent of the operation. The surgery may take between 2 1/2 to 5 hours. Markings are made on the breast before the operation. A common approach makes incision along natural contours of the breast where excess skin will be removed. The nipple and areola are then repositioned. The skin is then closed around the areola in a circle. Depending on the amount of lift needed, the remainder of the breast is then closed in a straight line extending to the breast fold or in an inverted “T” with the closure continued in the fold of the breast. Advanced techniques are used to to maintain good blood flow and drainage to the nipple / areola complex and skin flaps while also maximizing fullness.
After surgery, your stitches will be covered with gauze and an elastic binder or surgical bra will hold your breasts in place. Your breasts will be bruised and swollen, and you may experience some mild to moderate discomfort for a few days. In the recovery stage, it is important to wear support at all times. You may shower 48 hours post op, but should not submerge you wounds in a bath until the sutures are removed. During the first 3 weeks after the operation, you should wear a tube top or loose sports bra. During the second 3 weeks, you may wear a regular soft bra without underwire. After 6 weeks, you may wear an underwire bra for short periods and progress to longer periods over the next month. Many women return to work and normal daily activities within a week. You should let your pain level guide your activity, but avoid vigorous exercise for at least 3 weeks. Your sutures will be removed at approximately 2 weeks post op.
Some noticeable, permanent scarring is expected, but easily covered by your bra or bathing suit. The scars may be red and uneven for a few months, but usually fade and become less obvious. As with other lifting type operations, mastopexy is a trade off of concealable scars for improved contour. After a few months, once the final result is seen, few women would ever trade back for their pre-operative appearance. You may notice some asymmetry. This should not be unexpected as studies show approximately 90% of women have significant breast asymmetries both before and after operation. Your breasts will continue to change with time as mastopexy cannot stop the natural aging process.
Complications are not common, but do occur. The operation disrupts the breasts’ natural blood supply and drainage, so there may be skin and nipple healing difficulties. Nipple sensation may also be temporarily or permanently decreased. Smoking increases the risks of these problems. Other complications include, but are not limited to bleeding and infection. The ability to breastfeed is often preserved, but cannot be guaranteed.