Breast Lift

Like other areas of a woman’s body, the breasts undergo a number of changes over the course of a woman’s lifetime. Certain factors, such as aging, genetics, pregnancy and breastfeeding, hormonal changes (e.g. menopause), and weight gain/loss can contribute to a condition known as breast ptosis, or sagging of the breast. Many women find this condition unpleasant and become dissatisfied with the appearance of their breasts, potentially leading to a loss of self-confidence.

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is designed to correct breast sagging, drooping, and heaviness, modifying the contour and elevation of the breasts and contributing to an overall appearance of lifted, shapelier, firmer breasts. A breast lift may be performed alone or in combination with a breast augmentation.

What are Some of the Causes of Sagging Breasts?

Breasts can change due to a number of factors. Like facial skin, breast skin loses much of its elasticity with age, the ligaments that hold the breasts begin to weaken, and gravity takes a toll, causing breast tissue to become lax and saggy. Some women may find that their breasts become stretched during pregnancy and breastfeeding, producing loose skin when they shrink back to their original size. Weight loss and menopause may also contribute to this condition. Some women also experience breast ptosis following breast implant removal, and a breast lift is often recommended for women who choose to remove their implants without replacement. Breast ptosis is usually graded on a scale from mild to severe, which measures the nipple location is relation to the inframammary fold, or breast crease.

About Breast Lift Surgery

A breast lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that involves cutting and removing excess tissue and overstretched ligaments, as well as raising the nipples and areolae, allowing them to sit higher on the breast.

Eligibility for a breast lift largely depends on the amount of viable tissue to ensure breast functionality is retained following surgery.

Incision Techniques

A full breast lift typically uses a series of three incisions that form an anchor shape: one above and around the areolar border, a vertical incision from the lower areolar border to the inframammary fold (breast crease), and a horizontal incision along the inframammary fold. While this triple incision technique is somewhat more invasive than a typical breast augmentation, for example, it ensures maximal corrections and optimal results. Breast lift scars follow a typical healing pattern: the scar along the areolar border fades into the dark areolar skin, the vertical scar is hidden in the shadow of the breast’s hemisphere, and the third scar is hidden in the inframammary fold. Of the three scars, the vertical scar tends to remain the most visible, although it should partially fade with time.

Modifications of a full breast lift employ different incision techniques that, while potentially less invasive, may not yield the same comprehensive results as the traditional “anchor” technique. A periareolar lift, or “crescent” lift, features a crescent-shaped incision above the areola, a circumareolar lift, or “donut” lift, involves the removal of a concentric ring of flesh around the areolar border, and a circumvertical lift, or “lollipop” lift, employs both an incision around the areola and a vertical incision to the inframammary fold, excluding the third, inframammary incision of a traditional breast lift. Each of these techniques have limited efficacy, and may be chosen in cases of less severe ptosis or in patients with minimal breast tissue.

What to Expect During & Right After the Breast Lift Surgery

A breast lift typically lasts 1-4 hours, depending on the type and extent of work to be performed and the number of simultaneous procedures (e.g. breast augmentation). General anaesthesia is normally used. Most surgeons will recommend a compression garment following your procedure, which will help reduce swelling and fluid buildup, and you may also be fitted with surgical drains, which should be removed within a few days. Minor pain, bruising, swelling, and numbness can be expected, and should subside in a few weeks. Most women are able to return to work within a week following a breast lift, but strenuous activity and heavy lifting should be avoided for up to 4-6 weeks following the procedure.

What to Expect after Breast Lift Surgery

While results should be evident immediately following your procedure, it may take weeks or even months for your breasts to settle into their final positions. Scarring should mostly fade, although it is important to be aware that some scarring may always be visible. Furthermore, patients are advised that a breast lift may not last forever, as it will not prevent the effects of future aging. Many women are advised to complete any pregnancy and breastfeeding prior to undergoing a breast lift, as these may cause the breasts to revert to a condition of ptosis, negating the benefits of a breast lift procedure. While it is important to maintain realistic expectations about what can be achieved with a breast lift, many women find it to be an effective procedure that delivers dramatic results. Patients report that not only do their breasts feel lifted, firmer, and more shapely, but their self-confidence is restored. At Clinic 360, our number one goal is patient satisfaction, and our highly trained, specialist surgeons aim not only to meet but to exceed your standards.

Surgery Risks

Because it is a surgical procedure, a breast lift carries all the risks associated with surgery, including bleeding, scarring, infection, and the possibility of adverse reaction to anaesthesia. Additional risks specific to breast lift include loss of sensitivity, nipple necrosis, or loss of breastfeeding ability. These complications are rare in healthy individuals

Related Links

Breast Augmentation

Breast Augmentation Cost

Subglandular vs. Submuscular Placement

Breast Augmentation Incision Placement

Breast Augmentation Types of Implants

Breast Augmentation Risks & Complications

Breast Augmentation Recovery

Breast Implant Removal

Breast Reduction & Lift

Combined Breast Augmentation & Breast Lift

Breast Lift

Breast Revision

Inverted Nipple Correction

Asymmetrical Breast Augmentation

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

Breast Augmentation History

Anaesthesia & Sedation

Choosing the Right Surgeon

Breast Lift FAQ

What is a breast lift?
A breast lift is a surgical procedure designed to correct breast sagging or drooping, modifying the contour and elevation of the female breasts and contributing to an overall appearance of lifted, shapelier, firmer breasts.
Why do women undergo breast lift procedures?
With age, menopause, weight gain/loss, following pregnancy and breastfeeding, or due to genetic factors, many women experience a condition known as breast ptosis, or sagging. Many women find this condition unpleasant and become dissatisfied with the appearance of their breasts, potentially leading to a loss of self-confidence. Women with excess skin and sagging breasts who don’t necessarily require an increase in volume may choose to undergo breast lift procedures in order to restore tightness and firmness to their breasts.
What causes breast sagging?
Breasts can change due to a number of factors. Skin naturally loses elasticity with age and the ligaments which hold the breasts in place begin to loosen and weaken. Some women find that their breasts expand during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and become saggy when they shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size. Similarly, some women experience breast sagging following breast implant removal. Weight loss and menopause may also lead to breast ptosis.
How do I know if I need a breast lift?
Breast ptosis is graded on a scale from mild to severe, which measures the position of the nipple relative to the inframammary fold, or breast crease. Patients with moderate to severe ptosis may be good candidates for a breast lift.
What are some of the risks of a breast lift?
A breast lift is a surgical procedure and carries all the risks of any surgery, such as those associated with infection, bleeding, scarring, and anaesthesia. A breast lift may also interfere with future breastfeeding ability. Other risks include loss of sensitivity and nipple necrosis, but these complications are rare in the hands of an experienced surgeon.
How long does a breast lift procedure take to perform?
A breast lift is a highly variable procedure that can take anywhere between one and four hours to perform, depending on the type and extent of work required.
What type of anaesthesia is used for a breast lift?
A breast lift is usually performed under general anaesthesia.
What types of incisions are used for a breast lift?
The typical incision pattern for a breast lift is anchor-shaped, incorporating a periareolar incision (around the border of the areola), a vertical incision from the areola to the inframammary fold, and a horizontal incision along the inframammary fold or breast crease. Variations of this incision pattern include a “lollipop” incision, which incorporates only the periareolar and vertical incisions, a “crescent” incision that is made above the areola, or a “donut” incision which involves the removal of a concentric ring of flesh around the areola. These variations are used in cases of less severe breast ptosis.
Will I experience scarring following a breast lift?
The incision patterns used for a breast lift are designed to minimize visible scarring. However, because a breast lift is slightly more invasive than a breast augmentation, you may experience some scarring. Scars usually follow a similar healing pattern. In the case of a full breast lift, the periareolar scar is hidden by the darker skin of the areola, the vertical scar is hidden in the lower breast hemisphere, and the inframammary scar is hidden in the breast crease. Of the three, the vertical scar between the areola and breast crease tends to remain the most visible, while the inframammary scar tends to be the thickest. While most scars do fade with time, patients are advised that some scarring may always be visible following a breast lift.
What is the recovery time following a breast lift?
Most women are able to return to work within a week following a breast lift, although heavy lifting and other strenuous activity should be avoided for at least 4-6 weeks. Minor pain, bruising, swelling, and tenderness can be expected in the days following the procedure, and can be treated with prescription pain medication. Your doctor may recommend a compression garment to prevent excess swelling and fluid buildup.
Does a breast lift hurt?
The procedure itself is performed under anaesthesia and is therefore painless. Some mild pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness is to be expected following the procedure, and can be treated with prescription pain medication.
Can I breastfeed following a breast lift?
While every effort will be made to retain sensation and function, because a breast lift is a delicate procedure, there is a risk of severing milk ducts and therefore inhibiting breastfeeding function following a breast lift procedure. Women are furthermore advised to complete all breastfeeding prior to undergoing a breast lift, as there is a risk that further breastfeeding will reverse the results.
Will I lose sensation following a breast lift?
In most cases, there will be little loss of sensation following a breast lift. However, because of the nature of the procedure and the abundance of nerves in the surgical area, permanent loss of sensation is always a risk. Some temporary numbness and tingling is normal following the procedure, but it should subside within a few weeks.
What kind of results can I expect following a breast lift?
While some results should be immediately evident following a breast lift, it may take weeks or even months for the final results to be apparent. While it is important to maintain realistic expectations, many women find a breast lift to be an effective procedure for restoring breast tightness and reversing breast ptosis. Patients report that their breasts felt lifted, firmer, and more toned, and that their nipples were elevated and perkier than before the procedure. Some women report improved self-confidence and body image.
Can I combine a breast lift with a breast augmentation/reduction?
Yes, these procedures are commonly combined, although combining procedures may slightly lengthen surgery time and make for a longer, more difficult recovery.
Can I get a breast lift without implants?
Yes. If you have adequate breast volume and simply want to firm and tone your breast area, a breast lift alone may be sufficient to deliver the desired result.
Will my results be permanent?
Patients are advised that the results of a breast lift are not always permanent, and may be adversely affected by weight gain/loss, subsequent pregnancies or breastfeeding, and aging.
How do I know if a breast lift is right for me?
If you are in generally good health, a non-smoker, and have excess skin or breast sagging but aren’t looking to increase breast volume, a breast lift procedure is a safe, effective way to restore some of the tightness lost through aging, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or weight loss.