A breast lift, also referred to as mastopexy, is a sophisticated cosmetic surgical procedure designed to help women raise and reshape their breasts to restore a more youthful look. As a woman ages, it is very common for the breasts to lose their firmness and begin to sag as the result of aging, gravity, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and breast feeding. While the procedure does not make the breasts larger or fuller, it is able to help slow these aging effects by restoring the stretched skin in the breasts. It can also be effective for minimizing the size of the areola, which is the darker pigmentation surrounding the nipple. Breast lifts can be combined with placement of breast implants to help increase the fullness of the upper breast, especially for women who have lost breast volume from past pregnancies.
Candidates for a Breast Lift
The ideal candidates are women who have sagging breasts, decreased breast volume, and/or stretched skin of the breasts that she is currently unhappy with. Plastic surgeons will only perform the surgery when the sagging of the breasts is significant enough to justify undergoing the procedure. Whether the drooping breasts are the results of pregnancy, breast feeding, dramatic weight loss, or normal signs of aging, the breast lift surgery can improve these concerns. Breast lift patients must also be in good overall physical and mental health, aware of the potential risks of the surgery, over the age of 18 years old, and at a healthy targeted goal weight. Women cannot receive the breast lift surgery while pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Pencil Test
The pencil test is a simple way to determine if you may be ready for a breast lift. All you need is a pencil and a mirror to get started. To perform the test, stand facing a mirror with your bra removed, and ensure that your posture is straight and shoulders are back. Then, slide the pencil along the bottom crease of your breast until it is positioned fully beneath the breast and let go. If the pencil remains in place, it is being held by the weight of your breast tissue. Alternatively, if your breast tissue is not “resting” on your chest, the pencil will drop to the floor because nothing is holding it down. While this is just a simple and informal test, it is a good indicator of whether or not your breast tissue has begun to drop and “rest” on your chest. If you believe your breast tissue has begun to sag, it may be time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pinsky to see if a mastopexy may indeed be right for you. During your consultation, our plastic surgeon, Mark Pinsky, MD, will perform a full evaluation of your breasts and determine the best approach for addressing your concerns.
About the Breast Lift Procedure
Depending on a patient’s current breast appearance and goals from the surgery, there are several different types of breast lift surgery designs. For that reason, the breast lift procedure can last anywhere from one to four hours. The kind of incision the surgeon makes will be determined by the quantity of lifting needed, whether the lifting is for the nipple or breast gland, and the patient’s skin elasticity quality. In the majority of cases, the incisions are placed around the areola in order to reposition the nipple back into a more appropriate position higher on the chest. Then, the surgeon will carefully remove all of the extra dropping breast tissue and skin.
For patients with smaller breasts, vertical or concentric breast lift surgeries are usually the best option available. Since the concentric method is intended for women with small breasts and an isolated sagging nipple, the surgeon makes the incision in a doughnut shape around the areola. Women who have small breasts with a sagging breast gland, the vertical breast lift surgery requires an incision to be made in the shape of an upside-down T from the areola down to the natural fold below the breast. If breast augmentation is combined with the surgery, it can be performed at any time and in any of the mentioned incision techniques during the mastopexy.
Preparing for the Breast Lift Procedure
When meeting with your surgeon during the initial consultation, it is extremely essential that you openly discuss the desired expectations from the procedure, including your goal breast size and shape. Dr. Pinsky will then conduct an examination on your breasts to evaluate the size and shape of your breasts, quality of your skin elasticity, and location of your nipples and breast gland. Based on the gathered measurements, he or she will be able to determine the most optimal type of breast lift surgery.
At the initial consultation, you should also be prepared to provide the surgeon with a detailed medical history and list of current medications or vitamins you are taking, including both prescriptions and over-the-counter products. Make sure to inform the surgeon if you smoke, have high blood pressure that is uncontrolled, have medical allergies, possess problems with proper blood clotting, or a tendency to form excessive scars. It is vital that the surgeon is educated on these and other health conditions because they can have a negative impact on the procedure outcome and cause increased risks to the surgery.
If you are considering or are having a breast augmentation performed in conjunction with the breast lift surgery, there will be more factors to decide on before the procedure. You and your surgeon will review what implant type and location will be the best choice to meet your needs. It is important to remember that you will still have to receive regular mammograms on a normal schedule. Despite popular belief, breast implants do not make it harder for technicians to detect signs of breast cancer. When having a mammogram, simply educate the technician about the breast augmentation and they will ensure the proper views are taken for a dependable reading.
Recovering from Breast Lift Surgery
Immediately following the surgery, it is normal for patients to feel discomfort and pain in the chest. Your surgeon will help you manage and minimize the discomfort through pain medication prescriptions. Within one day, you can expect to be walking around and performing the basic activities of everyday life, including showering. For the first week, your surgeon will recommend a light dressing over the wounds and antibiotic ointments to reduce risk for complications. During the first six weeks, you will also be instructed to wear a surgical bra because normal underwire bras cannot be worn in recovery.
Although most patients who have office jobs can return to work within one week, patients with high activity employment will need to discuss an appropriate time frame with Dr. Pinsky before returning to work. It is normal for the breasts to remain swollen and slightly uncomfortable for the first two to three weeks. You should also expect for your first menstruation cycle after surgery to cause your breasts to swell and hurt more than usual. Scars will remain red and prominent for up to six months, before gradually becoming more skin-colored. Final results from the breast lift are usually seen after nine months and the results are long-lasting.