Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

What Is a Breast Lift?

A breast lift, or a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that lifts and reshapes sagging breasts. Breasts can start to sag as a result of aging, pregnancy, weight loss and gravity. By trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissue, breasts can sit higher on the chest and be firmer to the touch. In addition, breast lift surgery can involve repositioning and resizing the nipple and areola to further enhance breast appearance. Since mastopexy does not change breast size, it is often combined with a breast augmentation or breast reduction.

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Candidates For Mastopexy

An eligible mastopexy candidate is in good overall health, maintains a stable weight, and has realistic expectations about what mastopexy can do. Women that choose to undergo mastopexy typically have one or more of the following:

  • Sagging breasts
  • Breasts that have lost shape or volume
  • Breasts that are flat or elongated
  • Nipples or areolas pointing downward
  • Asymmetrical breasts

Benefits of a Breast Lift

Women who undergo breast lift surgery enjoy a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved self-confidence. Drooping breasts make many women feel dissatisfied with their shape. Lifting breasts that sag reinstates a woman’s satisfaction with the appearance of her body. 
  • Age-defying appearance. Sagging breasts look older and regardless of a woman’s age, she wants her body to reflect how she feels. Breast lift surgery can achieve this goal. 
  • Weight loss celebration. Weight loss can be a significant cause of breast sagging. When a woman has reached her ideal weight, a breast lift can reinstate proportionate breast shape.
  • Fuller breast appearance. Augmentation is not the solution that every woman wants. For those who want a natural but fuller appearance, breast lift surgery may be ideal.

Types of Breast Lift Incisions

Dr. Altamira uses one of three types of incisions during a breast lift. The incision chosen will depend on the size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin. These incisions will be discussed during your consultation and patients can choose one of the following:

  • Two rings, one larger than the other, around the areola which works for small breasts and leaves minimal scarring.
  • A keyhole shape, around the areola and down to the breast crease.
  • An anchor shape, beginning in the breast crease and extending up to and around the areola. Best for significant sagging.

How Do I Prepare for Mastopexy Surgery?

A few steps occur before breast lift surgery. After the initial consultation, complete pre-operative instructions are provided and may include:

  • Stop smoking two or more weeks before surgery.
  • Arrange time off work as needed for a full recovery.
  • Prepare meals ahead of time to make recovery simpler.
  • Avoid medications and supplements that thin the blood (call our office if you have questions).
  • Arrange for a loved one to bring you to your surgery and to stay with you for 24 hours after.
  • Arrange childcare and pet care as needed for several days after surgery.
  • Pick up prescriptions before the day of surgery.
  • Collect books, music, extra pillows, and cozy blankets to recovery comfortably.

The Breast Lift Procedure

Dr. Altamira performs mastopexy surgery on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The entire surgery may take from 1 to 5 hours depending on the type of lift performed. First, Dr. Altamira will make the appropriate incisions. Then, he removes excess breast tissue. This will allow Dr. Altamira to reshape the breast and achieve the desired breast contour. Typically, patients also choose to alter the nipple and areola. Dr. Altamira will move them higher on the breast or resize them. Next, excess skin is trimmed for a tighter and defined shape. Finally, he will close incisions with stitches.

Breast lift surgery is performed in a way that suits each individual patient. There are a few different incision techniques that may be involved in a given procedure. Also, the degree of tissue excision and repositioning must be determined on a case-by-case basis. During the consultation for breast lift surgery, various techniques may be discussed, including:

Peri-Areolar Lift

A slight lift may be achieved using this technique in which incisions follow the border of the areola, the colored skin around the nipples. Breast tissue is repositioned through small incisions and extra skin is removed to provide adequate lift. Patients who are combining augmentation with their breast lift or who wish to decrease the size of the areola commonly choose this technique. 

Vertical Lift

Moderate lifting and breast reshaping may be performed through a “lollipop” or “keyhole” technique. This procedure involves an areola incision like the peri-areolar lift but also includes an additional incision from the areola straight down to the breast crease. This incision pattern allows more room for significant lifting and tissue excision. Scarring from a vertical lift is generally modest, especially in comparison to the degree of tissue remodeling that is achieved. 

Inverted T Lift

The Inverted T lift is also referred to as the “anchor” lift. This technique achieves the most significant modification and most dramatic results. The anchor incision includes the vertical lift pattern around the areola and down to the breast crease, as well as a horizontal incision at the crease below the breasts. Through this more expansive incision pattern, it is possible to reshape the lift breasts that sag severely.

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Before & After Mastopexy

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Breast Lift Recovery

For a few days following breast lift surgery, patients are likely to have bruising, soreness and swelling. Breasts are usually wrapped in an elastic bandage or a surgical bra for about a week. Dr. Altamira recommends that patients wear a support bra continuously for the next month. Patients will return to have Dr. Altamira remove their stitches after 1 to 2 weeks. Most patients return to work at this time. However, patients should avoid exercise and other strenuous activity for about a month.

Results Of Mastopexy

Mastopexy produces immediate results. In addition, the breasts will continue to improve in appearance as swelling subsides and scars fade. Patients who thoroughly discussed their goals prior to surgery, and had realistic expectations of what it could provide, report high satisfaction levels. A woman planning to start a family or have more children should not undergo mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing can counteract its benefits. Breasts are still subject to the effects of aging, however, mastopexy produces long-lasting results.

Can I Combine a Breast Lift with Other Procedures?

Breast lift surgery is often combined with breast augmentation using implants. This breast procedure may also be included as a vital aspect of a mommy makeover. The mommy makeover process may also involve body-shaping with liposuction, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), or both.

Breast Augmentation vs Breast Lift

Breast augmentation is an enhancement procedure in which saline or silicone implants are inserted beneath the skin or muscle tissue to make breasts larger. Breast lift surgery is the procedure that repositions existing breast tissue and skin to make the natural breast appear fuller and higher on the chest wall. Both procedures offer unique benefits.

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Will There Be Visible Scarring After a Breast Lift?

Depending on the incision type, mastopexy can produce visible scars. Although some incisions can be concealed in the natural breast contours, others cannot. In most cases, however, scars fade over time, becoming much less apparent. There is always a chance that visible scarring may develop after surgery. Breast lift surgery is conducted in a way to minimize scarring as much as possible through:  

  • The peri-areolar lift makes incisions at the border of the colored skin around the nipples. The shade differential between the areola and surrounding skin may disguise the minor scars.
  • The vertical lift scarring around the areola may be virtually hidden in the color of the skin, leaving only the vertical incision to be seen. 
  • The inverted T technique carries the most significant scars. However, patients appreciate the fact that incision scars are situated so they are not visible beneath a bikini top or lingerie. 

Over time, scarring from breast lift surgery does fade. Scars that initially appear red and raised gradually flatten out and fade to white. This can take up to one year. Following post-operative instructions carefully, including wearing compression garments, reduces the chances that scarring will be visible.

Can I Breastfeed After a Breast Lift? 

Yes, it is possible to breastfeed after a breast lift. The incisions and tissue repositioning that take place during surgery do not disrupt the milk glands or ducts.

What Are the Risks of a Breast Lift?

In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, risks specific to mastopexy include the following:

  • Asymmetry
  • Temporary or permanent change in nipple or breast sensation
  • Irregularities in breast contour and shape
  • Partial or total loss of nipple and areola

Schedule a Consultation

If you are interested in a breast lift and would like to see if you are a candidate, call (713) 271-9000 and schedule a consultation. You can also click here to submit an email contact form to our staff. Dr. Altamira has plastic surgery offices in Houston and Sugar Land, Texas.