As some women age, their breasts will naturally tend to sag. This is a normal part of the aging process. In today’s society where so much emphasis is placed on physical beauty, this can be the cause of a lot of self-esteem issues for women. Thankfully, women who once had perky, shapelier looking breasts can regain that look thanks to a plastic surgery procedure called a breast lift. In fact, about 100,000 women get breast lift surgery per year, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
What is Breast Lift Surgery?
Breast lift surgery, also called mastoplexy, is plastic surgery procedure that aims to reshape and lift sagging breasts. If the breasts have lost size in addition to becoming saggy, breast implants may used as well to increase firmness, size, and to help hold the breasts up. On the other end of the spectrum, a breast reduction may be performed alongside the breast lift instead. Whichever the case may be, the goal by the end of the surgery is to the regain perkier, youthful, more aesthetically pleasing breasts.
How is Breast Lift Surgery Performed?
There are several techniques for performing the breast lift surgery, and the technique used will be determined by your doctor depending on your personal breast shape and size. In the most general sense, whichever method is used, the procedure will involve making several incisions on the lower area of the breast, repositioning the nipple, removing excess skin, and shifting the remaining skin in a way that tightens and lifts the breast up to higher position. At this point, a breast implant may be used to add further volume and help hold the breast in place, as well re-tighten the skin.
The specifics about the exact method used to perform the surgery will depend on the plastic surgeons own person methods, experience, and your own body. However, most of the time, the techniques used will fall into one of two categories: concentric breast lift or anchored breast lift.
Concentric Breast Lift
Concentric breast lift surgery is for less extreme cases, and is usually performed under local anesthesia only. Fewer incisions are made with this technique. Concentric breast lift surgery begins with first drawing two concentric circles (a circle within a circle) on the breast, so it is often nicknamed “a doughnut breast lift” or “doughnut mastoplexy”. The inner portion between the two circles is removed, and the outer skin is then pulled together. The nipple will also be move upward into its new position. In some cases, the skin around the areola may pucker or wrinkle a bit, because there is now more skin needed along the incision of the breast. This will subside in a few weeks as the breast begins to take shape and adapt to its new size. In the rare case that the wrinkling does not go away, the plastic surgeon can fix this by performing another surgery whereby a new incision is made that descends from the nipple down to the breast fold. A vertical strip of skin will be removed and two sides will be stitched together along the incision site. Even with the possible need for this revision surgery, this method still involves less scarring than an anchor shape breast lift.
Anchor Shaped Breast Lift
This type of breast lift surgery involves making three incisions in an anchor shape along the breast. The first incision is around the areola, so it can be repositioned for the nipple. The next incision descends vertically from the nipple down towards the breast fold. The third and final incision runs underneath the breast to just before the breast fold. With these three incisions, skin flaps will be created whereby extra skin can be removed. The excess skin is trimmed away and the surrounding skin is then sutured back together into its new, perkier position. The nipple will also be placed up on the breast higher, but it will remain connected to its original nerves and blood supply, which greatly reduces the risks of loss of sensation in the nipple. Just like with a concentric breast lift, breast implants may be used to enhance the shape of your new breasts.
What is the Pain and Recovery Associated with a Breast Lift?
A breast lift is a fairly major plastic surgery procedure, so some pain and lots of swelling and bruising are to be expected. Patients will be very sore for the first three days, but it will subside as times goes by. It is recommended that most patients take at least a week off from work, during which time medication may to taken to ease the pain. Patients will be advised to sleep on their back and avoid sleeping on their stomach. The bruising and swelling will be significant during this time, but things will start healing up nicely around the one month mark. However, there will be some swelling and soreness for up to six months after the surgery. During this recovery phase, it is okay to experience many different things. There may be some breast asymmetry as one side may heal faster than the other. The breasts may go through weird phases like this as they heal, but this normal as your new breasts begin to recover and take shape. Also, you will not likely get full sensation back in the nipple area for at least six months, maybe longer. In some rare cases, patients permanently lose some or all the sensation in their nipples. This is small risk you must be aware of when thinking about getting breast lift surgery, although this risk can be greatly reduced by choosing an experienced plastic surgeon who specializes in performing breast lifts and has done it many times before.
Breast Lift Scars
The one big down side to breast lift surgery is that it will leave deep red scars, which will be very noticeable for up to six months before they start to fade. Over the next six months to a year, these deep red scars will eventually fade into thin white lines that will not be nearly as noticeable, and will feel much smoother. Your doctor will give you creams that will help heal and fade the appearance of the scars. There also more heavy duty treatment options, such as cortisone cream and silicone sheeting. You have to decide if breast lift scars are worth it for perkier, younger looking breasts. In most cases they fade to a pretty favorable degree, however some patients may be left with some permanent scars that never go away. And of course, like any plastic surgery procedure, the results will vary greatly from patient to patient, so be sure to discuss all the options for your breast lift surgery with your doctor first.
Breast Lift Surgery Cost
Breast lift surgery costs about $8,300. This is the total cost for everything, including the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia, hospital fee, etc. Your price may vary a lot depending on what type of breast lift surgery needs to be performed (doughnut breast lift or concentric breast lift), but anything in the range of $7,000 all the way up to $20,000 can be expected.
Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Breast Lift Surgery
As with any plastic surgery procedure, researching the doctor is always priority number one. Never let someone slice you open and manipulate your body until you have complete trust in them. You only have one body, pick a doctor who can give you the results you desire without screwing it up, even if means paying a few extra bucks. Here are some things you will definitely want to run past your doctor:
- Ask if you are a good candidate for a breast lift, and if your expectations are realistic
- Ask what type of procedure he will use: Doughnut breast lift, concentric breast lift, or something else
- Ask him what percentage of his patients have complications, or are not satisfied with the results
- Ask him how many times he has performed breast lift surgery in the last six months
- Ask to see before and after photos of his work
- Ask him if he has ever had a malpractice suit filed against him
- Ask him what his policy is on a revision surgery, if the procedure does not provide satisfactory results. Will he incur some of the cost if he messes something up that needs to be fixed?