Sagging breasts are a real concern for many women. Loss of skin elasticity, gravity and other factors such as pregnancy and nursing can cause the breasts to lose their natural shape and firmness.
A breast lift or mastopexy is a cosmetic breast surgical procedure to lift and reshape the sagging breasts. It can also be performed in combination with a wide local excision to remove cancer and leave the breast with a more pleasing appearance than before surgery.
Breast lifts are performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure generally takes 1.5 to 3.5 hours to perform. Your surgeon will make an anchor-shaped incision or a vertical "lollipop" incision that follows the natural contour of the breast. Next, your surgeon will remove the excess skin and move your nipple and areola to a higher position. Then the skin around the areola is brought down and drawn together to reshape the breast. After completion of the procedure, stitches are placed around the areola and nipple area, in a vertical line beneath the nipple and along the lower crease of the breast.
After you have a breast lift, you may feel slight discomfort, for which medications are recommended by your surgeon. A post surgical bra is recommended with no underwire to wear post operatively and can be obtained from David Jones, Target and other lingerie shops. You will need to wear the bra day and night for 3 weeks and then during the day for a further 3 weeks. You may experience tingling, numbness or discomfort in the armpit. You will be bruised and lumpy over the breast. The bluish-black colour and swelling will lessen after a few days. You may expect loss of sensation around your nipple and areola areas. Breast lift can enhance your breast size and shape, and restore the body contour of your breasts.
- Following the surgery your breast will be bruised, swollen, and may ache for a day or two.
- All sutures are usually dissolvable and dressings are waterproof for showering.
- No swimming is permitted for 6 weeks post surgery.
- Loss of sensation around the nipple and areola may take six weeks or more to return to normal.
Most health insurance plans don't cover mastopexy for aesthetic value. Please check with your health plans if mastopexy is covered when performed during breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery.
What other procedures are performed during a mastopexy to achieve overall aesthetic value of the breasts?
Mastopexy may also involve repositioning the areola and nipple. Some women may have small breasts or may have lost a significant amount of breast volume after pregnancy. In such cases, placement of breast implants in addition to breast lift may be required to increase the size and firmness of the breasts. The implants are placed most often underneath the breast tissue or under the muscle of the chest wall.
What are the risks and complications of mastopexy?
Some of the risks and complications of mastopexy include:
- Bleeding or hematoma formation
- Change in sensation of nipple or breast
- Irregularities in breast shape and contour
- Fluid accumulation
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Need for revisional surgery