A breast lift — also known as mastopexy — is a surgical procedure to change the shape of your breasts. During a breast lift, excess skin is removed and breast tissue is reshaped to restore firmness and raise the breasts to a higher position.
You might choose to have a breast lift if your breasts sag or your nipples point downward. A breast lift might also boost your self-image and self-confidence.
A breast lift won't significantly change the size of your breasts. However, a breast lift can be done in combination with breast augmentation or breast reduction.
Why it's done
As you get older, your breasts change — losing elasticity and firmness. There are many causes for these kinds of breast changes, including:
- Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the ligaments that support your breasts might stretch as your breasts get fuller and heavier. This stretching might contribute to sagging breasts after pregnancy — whether or not you breastfeed your baby.
- Weight fluctuations. Changes in your weight can cause your breast skin to stretch and lose elasticity.
- Gravity. Over time, gravity causes ligaments in the breasts to stretch and sag
A breast lift can reduce sagging and raise the position of the nipples and the darker area surrounding the nipples (areolae). The size of the areolae can also be reduced during the procedure to keep them in proportion to the newly shaped breasts.
You might consider a breast lift if:
- Your breasts sag — they've lost shape and volume, or they've gotten flatter and longer
- Your nipples — when your breasts are unsupported — fall below your breast creases
- Your nipples and areolae point downward
- Your areolae have stretched out of proportion to your breasts
- One of your breasts falls lower than the other.
A breast lift isn't for everyone. If you're considering pregnancy at any point in the future, you might delay getting a breast lift. During pregnancy, your breasts could stretch and offset the results of the lift.
Breastfeeding is a consideration as well. Although breastfeeding is usually possible after a breast lift — since the nipples aren't separated from the underlying breast tissue — some women might have difficulties producing enough milk.
While a breast lift can be done on breasts of any size, women with smaller sagging breasts will likely have longer lasting results. Larger breasts are heavier, which makes them more likely to sag again.
During the procedure:
Techniques used to remove breast skin and reshape breast tissue vary. The specific technique your plastic surgeon chooses will determine the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.
Your doctor might make incisions:
- Around the areolae — the darker area surrounding the nipples
- Extending downward from the areolae to the breast creases
- Horizontally along the breast creases
The procedure typically takes two to three hours.
After the procedure:
After a breast lift, your breasts will likely be covered with gauze and a surgical support bra. Small tubes might be placed at the incision sites in your breasts to drain any excess blood or fluid.
Your breasts will be swollen and bruised for about two weeks. You'll likely feel pain and soreness around the incisions
In the first few days after a breast lift, take pain medication as recommended by your doctor. Avoid straining, bending and lifting. Sleep on your back or your side to keep pressure off your breasts.
Avoid sexual activity for at least one to two weeks after the breast lift.
Drainage tubes placed near your incisions are typically removed within a few days. When your doctor removes the tubes, he or she will also probably change or remove your bandages.
Continue to wear the surgical support bra around the clock for three or four days. Then you'll wear a soft support bra for three or four weeks. Your doctor might suggest using silicone tape or gel on your incisions to promote healing.
While you're healing, keep your breasts out of the sun. Afterwards, be careful to protect your incisions from sun exposure.