St. Louis Breast Lift Specialist
Our team at BodyAesthetic Plastic Surgery & Skin Care Center treats St. Louis breast lift patients. In the paragraphs below, the breast lift procedure is described.
Over time, pregnancy, nursing, aging, the force of gravity, and weight loss all take their toll on a woman's breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that raises and reshapes sagging breasts, at least for a time. (No surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity.) Mastopexy can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple.
Women considering mastopexy must be realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. Results are usually superior in women with smaller, sagging breasts. Although breasts of any size can be lifted, the lifting effect may not last as long in heavy breasts. For women with large and heavy breasts, a breast reduction is usually more appropriate. Both procedures have many similarities, but breast reduction removes some of the breast tissue, in contrast to a mastopexy that removes skin only and reshapes the breast. In both surgeries, the nipples and areolas are raised to a higher position on the breast mounds to produce a more youthful contour.
Many women seek mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. Women planning to have more children should probably postpone a breast lift because a future pregnancy is likely to stretch the breasts again. If you do become pregnant after a breast lift, you should still be able to breastfeed since the milk ducts remain attached to the nipples.
The biggest disadvantage of a mastopexy is that it leaves permanent scars, which may be quite noticeable in some women, though they will be covered by a bra or bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) Dr. Boswell is experienced in short-scar mastopexy techniques, which require fewer and smaller incisions, and therefore produce fewer scars than traditional mastopexy methods. We only rarely need to use this older mastopexy technique anymore.
During the consultation, your surgeon will determine whether you are a good candidate for a short-scar procedure. The mastopexy technique that is best for you will depend on the size and shape of your breasts, the size of your areolas, and the extent of the sagging and excess skin.
Women who have breasts that are both small and sagging may get the best results if the mastopexy is combined with breast implants. For many women, mastopexy plus augmentation produces better results when done as two procedures, with the mastopexy performed first followed by augmentation a few months later. If this is a possibility, your surgeon will thoroughly discuss breast implants and the timing of surgery so you can make a fully informed decision.
Breast Lift: The Surgery
Mastopexy usually takes 1 to 3 hours. Surgical techniques vary depending on your anatomy and preferences, but the most common procedure used Dr. Boswell involves removing excess skin through an incision made around the areola and extended vertically between the areola and the inframammary crease (the natural fold below the breast). The incision around the areola is needed so the nipple and areola can be raised to a higher position. When appropriate, the areola, which tends to enlarge in diameter with age and pregnancy, can be made smaller.
After excess skin is removed around the incision, the skin that remains is re-draped over the breast tissue to create a natural breast contour. The resulting scar is shaped like a lollipop, around the areola and straight down to the inframammary crease. If there is a large excess of skin, another incision that runs horizontally along the inframammary crease may be needed, but this is rarely required for a mastopexy.
Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for a modified procedure that requires only a circular incision made around the areola. This is called a "doughnut" (or concentric circle) mastopexy, because excess skin is removed only from this doughnut-shaped area. Most women who seek mastopexy have more excess skin than can be removed through this circular incision.
What To Expect After A Breast Lift
After surgery, your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a few days, but the pain shouldn't be severe and can be relieved with medications prescribed by your surgeon. The breasts are bandaged at first, but the bandage is replaced within a few days by a soft sports bra that provides support. It should be worn over a layer of gauze 24 hours a day for 3 to 4 weeks. The stitches are absorbable and don't have to be removed.
You should expect some loss of feeling in the nipples and breast skin, which is caused by swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling subsides over the next 6 weeks or so. In some patients, however, numbness may last a year or more. Rarely, it may be permanent.
You should be up and about in a day or two after surgery, but don't plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending on how you feel. And avoid lifting anything over your head for 3 to 4 weeks. Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for gradually resuming your normal activities.
Even though your surgeon will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible, mastopexy scars are permanent and will not be invisible. They may remain lumpy and red for months, then gradually become less obvious, perhaps eventually fading to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars are located on the lower part of the breast and will not be visible to others even if you wear low-cut tops.
The results of a breast lift will not last forever, and the effects of gravity, aging, and weight fluctuations will eventually take their toll again. Women who get implants along with a mastopexy usually find that the results last longer.
Length Of Surgery
1 to 3 hours
Usually outpatient, sometimes inpatient
Breast Lift: The Side Effects
Temporary bruising, swelling, discomfort, numbness, and/or dry breast skin. Permanent scars.
Breast Lift: The Risks
Thick, wide scars; skin loss; infection. Unevenly positioned nipples. Permanent loss of feeling in nipples or breast skin.
Breast Lift: The Recovery
Back to work: 1 week or more.
Strenuous activities: 1 month.
Fading of scars: several months to a year.
Duration of Results
Variable; gravity, pregnancy, aging, and weight changes may cause new sagging. Results may last longer or be enhanced when breast implants are inserted.