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Breast lift (mastopexy)

Mastopexy - the breast lift - tightens breast tissues and removes excess skin, giving them a more ideal shape and position.

Before You Go

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • Will my breasts benefit from breast lift surgery?
  • Will lifting my breasts increase their size?
  • Will I need to replace my bras?

Pre-procedure prep for breast lift (mastopexy): The importance of a pre-op mammogram can't be stressed enough, because a breast lift can make it difficult to spot abnormalities in the months following surgery. Smoking before or after surgery puts you at a higher risk for infection and scarring, so if you smoke or live with a smoker, you'll need to quit.

About a week before surgery , stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and warfarin (all anti-inflammatory agents).

On the day of treatment: You may be advised to avoid eating and drinking at midnight before surgery. Pack loose clothing for after the operation, since you'll want to give your chest plenty of breathing room.

What To Expect

A breast lift can be performed in an office-based surgical facility, ambulatory surgical facility, or a hospital. The locale will most likely be chosen by your plastic surgeon. Breast lifts entail between one and three incisions depending on the degree of your breast' sag, the quality and elasticity of your skin, and whether or not you decide to couple your lift with a complimentary procedure like breast augmentation or reduction.

The "anchor" incision is meant for breasts that sag significantly and require tissue removal as well. This method consists of three cuts. The first is a round cut around the perimeter of the areola (colored skin surrounding your nipple), the second is a vertical cut from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease, and the third is a horizontal cut that cradles the breast crease. The anchor method involves the most incisions and leaves the most prominent scars.

The "lollipop" lift is for women with moderately sagging breast tissue. This method can't be combined with implants. The lift consists of two incisions - a circular cut around the perimeter of the areola and a vertical cut from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease. (Essentially, the lollipop lift involves the same incisions as the anchor lift, sans the last horizontal cut.) You might also hear it called a "keyhole" lift.

The "donut" lift can treat mild to moderately drooping breasts. The benefit of the donut lift is that only one incision is needed, created around the circumference of the areola. This technique can also be used to treat more severe sags, however breasts that hang particularly low are often deflated on top, so implants are needed to fill the empty space. The donut lift may also be referred to as a "peri-areolar" or "benelli" lift.

Least common of all is the "crescent" lift, meant to help women with very minor sags. This method is most common when combined with breast augmentation, and it's completed by cutting a small crescent along the upper half of the areola. The breast can be tightened and lifted by removing a small crescent sized flap of skin above the nipple.

Who should do it: A breast lift is a serious operation and should only be performed by a board certified plastic surgeon.

Duration: A breast lift takes between one and four hours to complete.

How Painful Is It?

The operation itself is painless, but you may be moderately achy for about five days. The recovery has been described as less painful than a breast reduction and more painful than breast augmentation. Ask your surgeon about prescription drugs to help minimize discomfort.

Options for anesthesia: Breast lifts can be performed under general anesthesia or a local anesthesia with a heavy sedative.

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