If You’re Considering a Breast Lift…

Over the years, factors such as pregnancy, nursing, and the force of gravity take their toll on a woman’s breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. Breastlift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts — at least, for a time. (No surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity.) Mastopexy can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume — for example, after pregnancy — breast implants inserted in conjunction with mastopexy can increase both their firmness and their size. If you’re considering a breast lift, this brochure will give you a basic understanding of the procedure — when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand.

The Best Candidates for Breast Lift

A breast lift can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

The best candidates for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally-stable women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts.

Many women seek mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you’re planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift. While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example, mastopexy usually doesn’t interfere with breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.

All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk

A breast lift is not a simple operation, but it’s normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following your physician’s advice both before and after surgery.

Mastopexy does leave noticeable, permanent scars, although they’ll be covered by your bra or bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.

Planning Your Surgery

In your initial consultation, it’s important to discuss your expectations frankly with your surgeon, and to listen to his or her opinion. Every patient — and every physician, as well — has a different view of what is a desirable size and shape for breasts.

The surgeon will examine your breasts and measure them while you’re sitting or standing. He or she will discuss the variables that may affect the procedure — such as your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin — and whether an implant is advisable. You should also discuss where the nipple and areola will be positioned; they’ll be moved higher during the procedure, and should be approximately even with the crease beneath your breast.

Your surgeon should describe the procedure in detail, explaining its risks and limitations and making sure you understand the scarring that will result. He or she should also explain the anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.

Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

Preparing For Your Surgery

Depending on your age and family history, your surgeon may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. You’ll also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.

While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.

Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed

Your breast lift may be performed in a hospital, an outpatient surgery center, or a surgeon’s office-based facility. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. If you’re admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, you can expect to stay one or two days.

Types of Anesthesia

Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll sleep through the operation. In selected patients — particularly when a smaller incision is being made — the surgeon may use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort.