For many women, the size and shape of their breasts are of major importance. It can have a dramatic effect on her psychological, social, and medical well-being. Today, women who are troubled by sagging or loose breasts due to the effects of gravity, aging, or pregnancy can be helped by the technique known as a mastopexy, or breast lift. The ultimate goal of a breast lift is to make ones breasts look perkier and more youthful.

PRIOR TO THE SURGERY

A complete medical history and a careful examination with blood tests will be done in the initial preoperative visit to determine the general health of the patient. The surgeon will then evaluate the shape and structure of the patient’s breasts, and determine the extent of surgery and approach required to achieve the desired shape. Other options available will also be discussed to help achieve this desired shape such as a breast augmentation at the same time as the lift to produce fuller breasts. Photographs, that do not include the face, may also be taken before and after surgery to evaluate the extent of improvement. Moreover, the surgeon will discuss the procedure, realistic expected results, type of anesthesia to be used, and possible risks of surgery.

Preoperative instructions generally include taking certain vitamins and elimination of certain drugs, such as birth control pills, to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. Furthermore, antibiotics may be prescribed for the days prior to surgery in order to prevent infection. Women who anticipate breast-feeding should also discuss this with the surgeon since the ability to do this can vary with each individual after surgery.

THE OPERATION

A mastopexy is generally performed in an outpatient surgical facility under general anesthesia or IV sedation and the procedure usually lasts two to three hours. Many techniques are available depending on the circumstances of the lift but generally incisions are made on both sides of the breast. Excess skin is removed from the bottom of the breast and around the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple). The skin of the breast is tightened followed by the positioning of the nipple and the areola to a new higher position. The skin from both sides of the bottom part of the nipple is then sutured together to reshape the breast. The entire procedure is designed to minimize scarring.

AFTER SURGERY

Patients are usually allowed to go home after surgery. A surgical dressing is placed to protect the incisions and a supportive bra may be required for the first three weeks. The breasts may be swollen and bruised for the first few days and any pain experienced can be controlled with oral medication. Furthermore, the breast and nipples may be numb, but this usually subsides as the swelling decreases within the next six weeks or so. Healing is gradual, and although light activity can be resumed within a few days routine exercising and vigorous activity should be avoided, the surgeon will describe details of when normal activity can be resumed. Scars from mastopexy are placed as inconspicuous as possible but they are permanent. They will be red and lumpy for the first months, fading to light lines over time.

RISKS

Breast lift surgery is normally safe but as with any surgery there are complications such as bleeding and infection. To help ensure a safe outcome the patient should adhere to the physician’s instructions.