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Breast Lift: Overview of the Procedure

As we age, our skin loses its elasticity, and collagen, which makes up a significant portion of the connective tissue in the breasts, begins to break down. Although sagging, or ptosis, is perfectly normal, many people feel self-conscious about it. One option for people who are unhappy with the appearance of their breasts is a breast lift, also called a mastopexy. Read on to learn more. 

Breast size and shape change over time. There are many factors that may contribute to sagging breasts, including:

  • Breast size — The weight of larger breasts can contribute to earlier sagging. 
  • Age — As people age, their skin loses elasticity. And the cumulative effect of gravity over time also pulls the breasts down and stretches the ligaments and tissue.
  • Pregnancy — Hormonal changes and weight gain during pregnancy can contribute to breast ptosis post-pregnancy. 
  • Breastfeeding — During breastfeeding, hormonal changes cause milk ducts to expand, which causes the skin on the breasts to stretch. After weaning, breast size decreases and sagging can occur. 
  • Weight fluctuations — Significant weight gain and loss (±50 pounds) can affect breast tissue. 
  • Smoking — Smoking damages collagen and elastin in the skin, which causes early aging, including sagging breasts. 

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and skin that’s lost its elasticity is a normal part of a long life. However, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your breasts, breast lift surgery may be something to consider. For many, it boosts self-image and self-confidence, in addition to changing the shape of their breasts.

If you’ve chosen to get a boob lift, there are a few things you should consider before going in for a mastopexy.

If there’s a possibility that you may get pregnant or breastfeed in the future, it might be best to hold off on surgery. During pregnancy, your breasts may stretch, counteracting the effects of the breast lift. In addition, mastopexy can negatively affect milk supply and make breastfeeding more challenging. 

If you’re considering breast lift surgery, it’s a good idea to first visit your doctor for a general wellness checkup. Be sure to discuss any medications that you’re taking and whether they are compatible with surgery. Your doctor should assess your general health condition and clear you for elective surgery. 

After your initial general wellness checkup, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon. During intake, the surgeon will: 

  • Review your medical history: The doctor will ask about your personal medical history and your family medical history. It’s important to share any incidences of breast cancer in your family, as well as results from breast examinations and mammograms that you’ve had recently. 
  • Do a physical examination: The surgeon will examine your breasts, including breast size and shape and the position of your nipples. 
  • Evaluate whether you are a good candidate for surgery: Not every woman is a good candidate for mastopexy. The surgeon will let you know if a boob lift is a good option for you based on your medical history and physical examination. 
  • Discuss expectations: Your doctor will most likely ask you why you’re interested in breast lift surgery. Be clear about what you expect to get out of this procedure. In addition, your doctor should inform you about the risks, including scarring and changes to the breasts and nipples. 

The specific steps of a breast lift procedure vary depending on the size and shape of the breasts, but the general process of mastopexy includes the following steps: 

  • Anesthesia: The patient is fully sedated during the surgery by way of either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. The doctor chooses the best course of sedation for each patient. 
  • Incision: There are a few different incision pattern choices for this procedure. The doctor chooses which incision pattern to use based on breast size and shape. 
  • Reshaping the breasts: Once the incision is made, the doctor lifts and reshapes the breasts and removes excess breast tissue to alter breast contour.
  • Closing the incisions: When the surgeon has completed reshaping the breasts, they will tighten the skin and close the incision. The incision lines are permanent, but will most likely fade over time. 

Recovery time after breast lift surgery is normally 2–6 weeks. For about two weeks, the breasts will be covered with gauze and supported by a surgical support bra. They will be swollen, tender, and bruised during this time. Numbness in that area may remain for up to 6 weeks. The incisions may take a few months to heal. 

In the first few days post-surgery, painkillers are typically prescribed by the surgeon. It’s important to avoid bending, lifting, or straining, and it’s necessary to sleep on the back or side to keep weight off the breasts. Sexual activity should be avoided for up to two weeks following surgery. 

A few follow-up visits to the surgeon will be necessary to have any drainage tubes removed, bandages changed, and possibly to have stitches removed as well.

Many women find that they can return to their normal every-day activities within three weeks after mastopexy. Your doctor will discuss your personal recovery timeline with you

Like all surgeries, breast lift surgery comes with risk factors, including: 

  • Side effects of anesthesia: The effects of the anesthesia itself may include temporary confusion, memory loss, and sore throat from the breathing tube.
  • Infection: The incision may become infected. That’s why it’s very important to go to all your post-operation appointments, so the doctor can examine the incision and ensure that it’s healing well. 
  • Scarring: Incision lines are permanent, but they will most likely fade and improve over time. 
  • Changes in sensation: Most of the time, full sensation returns within six weeks. Sometimes, there may be permanent loss of feeling, although it doesn’t usually affect erotic sensation. 
  • Breast asymmetry: Your breasts may be visibly different from one another in size or shape. 
  • Difficulty breastfeeding: Mastopexy may affect milk supply, which is why it’s not recommended to have the surgery unless you are done breastfeeding. 

Possible risks of breast lift surgery should be discussed with your surgeon prior to your consent. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you may have before undergoing surgery.

Breast ptosis is one of the most natural and normal aspects of aging. It’s by no means necessary to get a boob lift, but if you think that it will improve your quality of life or boost your self-esteem, then it’s something to consider. If you think that mastopexy may be right for you, consult with your general practitioner and a plastic surgeon. 

If you decide surgery is not for you, there are many other ways to lift your breasts including supportive bras and tape. Targeted exercises won’t lift your breasts, but they can increase the size of the muscles underneath the breasts, which can alter the contour of your chest. To prevent further sagging, maintain a healthy lifestyle by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-lift/about/pac-20393218

https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/to-breast-lift-or-not-to-breast-lift

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