Pregnancy, nursing and the aging process take their toll on a woman's breasts, and they eventually begin to sag and lose their shape and firmness. Breast lift is a surgical procedure that raises and reshapes sagging breasts, and (if desirable) reduces the size of the areola. Breast lift combined with implant surgery can enlarge as well as firm sagging breasts.

The technique involves removing excess skin and repositioning the breast tissue and nipples. Women with small, sagging breasts are the best candidates for breast lift. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but results in larger, heavier breasts are less enduring. The procedure takes about three hours, and it is usually performed in an outpatient setting. This is usually done under a general anesthetic.

Pain, bruising, swelling, soreness, numbness and dry breast skin are common temporary side-effects after surgery, but discomfort is unlikely to be severe. Loss of feeling in the nipples and breast skin will usually return.

Risks include bleeding, infection, thick wide scars, asymmetry and unevenly positioned nipples. Permanent loss of feeling in the nipples and/or breasts is rare.

Patients can go back to work in a week to 10 days and resume more strenuous activity in about a month. Scars are permanent, but usually fade and become less noticeable after several months to one year.

The duration of results is variable. Factors such as pregnancy, age, weight fluctuations and breast size affect the longevity of the improvement.

Procedure Steps

First, Anesthesia is induced

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. This procedure is usually done under general anesthesia

Your breast lift procedure can be achieved through a variety of incision patterns and techniques.

The appropriate technique for you will be determined based on:

  • Breast size and shape
  • The size and position of your areolas
  • The degree of breast sagging
  • Skin quality and elasticity as well as the amount of extra skin

First, Anesthesia is induced

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. This procedure is usually done under general anesthesia.

Incision options

Saline Implant

A circular pattern around the areola

Saline Implant

Around the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease

Saline Implant

Around the areola, vertically down from the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease

The incison lines that remain are visible and perminant scars develop, although they are usually will concealed beneath a swimsuit or bra.

Reshaping your breasts

After the incisions are made, the underlying breast tissue is lifted and reshaped to improve breast contour and firmness. The nipple and areola are repositioned to a natural, more youthful height. If necessary, enlarged areolas are reduced by excising skin at the perimeter. Excess breast skin is removed to compensate for a loss of elasticity.

Closing the incisions

After your breasts are reshaped and excess skin is removed, the remaining skin is tightened as the incisions are closed.

Some incision lines resulting from breast lift are concealed in the natural breast contours. Others are visible on the breast surface. Incision lines are permanent, but in most cases will fade and significantly improve over time.

Many women desire the smallest scar possible. However, at your consultation, we will recommend the incisions which best suit your anatomy.

Breast lift risks

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of breast lift surgery are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any breast lift risks and potential complications.

Breast lift risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding or hematoma formation
  • Infection
  • Poor healing of incisions
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
  • Breast contour and shape irregularities
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Potential partial or total loss of nipple and areola
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Possibility of revisional surgery

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent.

Breast lift and breast implant placement

Some women may want to consider placement of a breast implant in addition to the breast lift.

Implant can provide improved upper breast fullness or cleavage. Implants can be placed at the same time or as a second procedure.

Breast lift recovery

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During your breast lift recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is completed.

You’ll need to wear a 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.

You will be given specific instructions that may include:

  • How to care for your breasts following surgery
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
  • When to follow up in the office.