Over time, pregnancy, nursing, massive weight loss, certain hereditary traits or the natural ageing process can negatively affect the look and contour of the breasts. For instance, pregnancy and major weight loss can cause the breast skin to lose its elastic quality, so it starts to droop. Breastfeeding can also cause changes in the appearance of the breasts and nipple location: Some women report a loss of breast volume after breastfeeding, leaving them with deflated-looking breasts, while others are frustrated that their nipples have started to migrate down the breast and point southward instead of straight ahead.
Breast lift surgery does not increase the size of breasts, but improves the position and look of low hanging or droopy breasts. Patients who undergo this procedure and wish to enhance their cup size, often receive a breast augmentation as well.
The best candidates for breast lift surgery are healthy and maintain a relatively stable weight, but have lost firmness, support and often volume in their breasts. While mastopexy can enhance your appearance and boost your self-confidence, you may not be able to achieve your ideal image.
Sometimes, the breast lift alone is not sufficient to restore breast volume that has been lost due to nursing, weight loss or the ageing process. In this case, the plastic surgeon may recommend breast augmentation using breast implants or the patient’s own fat taken from another area of the body.
Mastopexy is performed using a general anaesthetic, so you’ll sleep through the entire operation. Surgery usually lasts about three hours. There are three main incision patterns used for breast lift surgery: periareolar, vertical and inframammary. The plastic surgeon discusses these options during consultation and helps the patient decide which is best for her, based on her unique anatomy and aesthetic objectives.
With the periareolar incision, the plastic surgeon removes a “donut-shaped” region of skin next to the areola (the darkly pigmented skin surrounding the nipple). This incision approach is best for patients who only need a small amount of skin removal and nipple elevation. The vertical incision pattern involves using both the periareolar incision as well as a vertical incision that extends down the front of the breast, starting at the bottom border of the areola and ending just above the natural breast fold. This pattern is best for patients who need a greater degree of skin removal. It also allows the surgeon to tighten the supporting breast tissue and raise the nipple to a higher position on the breast.
For women with a substantial amount of surplus skin, especially in the lower breast quadrant, the plastic surgeon uses an inframammary incision in addition to the periareolar and vertical incisions. This involves making an incision that runs left to right underneath the natural breast crease. Using the inframammary incision pattern allows the breast surgeon to optimize the final shape of the breast, in addition to removing a significant amount of skin from the breast area.
During your breast lift recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is completed. You’ll need to wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. Most patients are swollen and bruised, so you won’t see the results from the breast lift for a few weeks.
While there is some pain following surgery, most patients can be back at work within 5 to 7 days. It takes much longer–usually several months– for the final outcome to become apparent. Almost all patients are extremely pleased with their decision to undergo breast lift surgery. Your decision is a highly personal one that not everyone will understand. The important thing is how you feel about it. If the results meet your goals, then your surgery is truly a success.