Breast lift surgery is a cosmetic procedure that is often performed in combination with breast augmentation, breast implant revision, and breast reduction surgery. The treatment is intended to achieve two goals. First, we want to tighten a loose skin envelope, which can contribute to the appearance of breast ptosis. Second, we want to reposition the nipple to produce a more youthful appearance. At our practice, we perform breast lift surgery on women who are unhappy with the changes that have affected their breasts. If the skin on your breasts has stretched and the nipple has begun to droop, you may be an ideal candidate for breast lift surgery.
Breast Lift Candidates
The breasts change in size and shape any time a woman experiences changes in her weight. The skin on the breasts gets stretched out during periods of weight gain; unfortunately, when the excess weight is lost, the skin may not contract and conform to the smaller breast size. This results in looseness of the breast skin envelope.
The breasts also lose their youthful look as a result of the aging process. As the skin loses its elasticity and ability to support the breasts, the breasts may begin to sag downward.
With time, the stretching of the skin envelope and weight of the breasts will cause the nipple to move down the fold of the breast. Women that are experiencing these cosmetic issues may want to undergo breast lift surgery.
Ideal candidates for breast lift surgery include women who:
- Have experienced pregnancy
- Have breastfed
- Have lost a lot of weight
- Have naturally large breasts; naturally large breasts tend to sag at a faster rate than smaller breasts
- Have trouble finding clothes and bras that fit
- Experience discomfort when wearing a bra
- Have noticed a loss of cleavage due to breast ptosis
- Want an improved breast contour
- Do not smoke
- Are in good health
- Understand that surgery will result in some scarring on the breasts
Breast Lift Techniques
Our Philadelphia breast lift surgeons perform the following lifting techniques to improve the appearance of the breasts.
- Crescent: In the crescent lift, a small crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed from the upper portion of the areola to slightly lift the breasts. This approach is best suited to patients that have mild sagging of the breasts, and are also having breast implants placed at the time of breast lift surgery.
- Doughnut: The donut lift, also called periareolar or Benelli lift, involves an incision that encircles the entire circumference of the areola. This approach is best suited to women with large areolas (the size of the nipple can be reduced with this approach); women with slightly drooping areolas; women who are also receiving implants at the time of surgery; and women who require some moderate tightening of the skin envelope.
- Lollipop: With the lollipop lift, the incisions that are created resemble a lollipop; an incision is made around the nipple, and then a vertical, centered incision is made down the fold of the breast. This approach allows our surgeons to treat more significant cases of ptosis and excess skin when compared to the crescent or doughnut lift.
- Anchor: The anchor technique is performed on patients that have the highest degree of skin laxity and nipple droopiness. During surgery, an incision is made down the center of the fold of the breast, along with a curved, horizontal incision in the crease of the breast.
Breast Lift Procedure
The breast lift procedure is performed in the following stages:
- Our surgeons will use a surgical pen to mark the incision locations
- The patient is put under local or general anesthesia (In most cases, breast lift patients undergo general anesthesia)
- We will apply an antibacterial wash to the breasts and incision area
- The breast lift incisions are made around the nipple, down the fold of the breast, and/or in the breast crease
- Excess skin is removed
- The skin is re-draped
- The nipple is repositioned
- The incisions are closed
- Tape and bandages are applied to the breasts to reduce the risk of swelling and infection
Breast Lift Recovery
Recovery from breast lift surgery is well tolerated by patients. Patients can improve their recovery experience and surgical results by following our post-surgical instructions.
- Take pain medication on schedule for the first two to three days, and as needed for the rest of your recovery
- Keep the head elevated for a couple of days after surgery
- Plan to rest for the first two or three days after surgery, and take at least one week off of work
- Use a soft ice compress to reduce pain and swelling
- Patients should wait a couple of days to shower – talk to our surgeons to find out when you can take a shower after breast lift surgery. Do not take a bath, sit in a hot tub, or swim in a pool for one month after surgery; such activities could increase the risk of infection.
- Wear a soft bra for one month after surgery; we recommend a wireless bra or sports bra.
- Do not engage in normal activities for at least three to five days after surgery
- Avoid strenuous exercise or activity for at least four to six weeks. Slowly work back into your regular exercise routine after getting the go-ahead from our doctors.
Breast Lift Side Effects
The following breast lift side effects are common and are not usually a cause for concern:
- Itchiness or numbness at the incision sites
- Nausea on the day of surgery
Breast Lift Risks
Rarely, breast lift surgery can result in surgical or post-surgical complications. The possible risks of breast lift surgery include:
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia or healing materials (bandages, tape, pain medication)
- Breast asymmetry
- Slow healing of the incision (especially common in smokers)
- Loss or reduction of nipple sensation
- Bleeding (hematoma)
Breast Lift Results
While the results of breast lift surgery can be seen immediately, the best results are seen by three months to one year after surgery. At the three-month point, the vast majority of the swelling will have subsided and the scars should be healing nicely. By one year after surgery, all residual swelling will be gone and the scars will have faded as much as possible.