Most women’s breasts change significantly in appearance and firmness over time, inevitable occurrences which are not necessarily welcomed. These changes are not just related to a woman’s chronological age or level of fitness but are also affected by pregnancies, breastfeeding, weight loss and sizable fluctuations, gravity, lack of regular effective breast support, hormonal factors, health and genetics. Combined, they can wreak aesthetic havoc on once-perky breasts leading to drooping and a deflated look.
A breast lift, also called a mastopexy, can address these deficiencies to variable degrees by reshaping the breast tissue, tightening the skin, reducing the size of the nipple-areola complexes and elevating them to a more natural position. The ultimate results can be alluring breasts that are firmer, perkier, and rejuvenated with a more aesthetically pleasing shape.
- What is a Breast Lift?
- Breast Lift vs. Augmentation and Reduction
- Types of Breast Lift
- Your Breast Lift Procedure
- Recovery from a Breast Lift
- Breast Lift Scars
- Cost of a Breast Lift
- Breast Lift Without Surgery—Is It Possible?
- Breast Lift Before-and-After Photos
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Additional Information About Breast Lifts from Dr. Turkeltaub’s Blog
What is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift (mastopexy) entails the re-elevation of the breasts to a more appropriate position on the chest. This is accomplished by resecting the excess, stretched-out skin and recontouring the other elements of the breasts. There typically will be some decrease in breast volume and, therefore, in size due to the removal of the excess skin and some breast tissue along with the compacting of the remaining tissues.
Women with larger breasts can also have a concurrent small breast reduction at the same time if so desired.
Breast Lift vs. Augmentation and Reduction
A breast lift (mastopexy) entails the re-elevation of the breasts to a more appropriate position. This is accomplished by resecting the excess, stretched out skin and recontouring the other elements of the breasts. There typically is a relatively small decrease in breast volume and, therefore, in size both as a consequence of the removal of the excess skin along with the compacting of the remaining tissues. Women with larger breasts can also have a concurrent small breast reduction at the same time if desired.
For women who are quite satisfied with their present size, a mastopexy without the enlargement may suffice. However, it is the experience of Dr. Steven Turkeltaub that the vast majority of women who choose a breast lift also want a breast augmentation as well. Before their breasts became droopy, many of these women had always wished to be larger and the need now for a lift presents the opportunity to obtain the enlargement. Breast implants will not only enlarge the breasts but they can also create a full and alluring shape, improved cleavage, increased youthful firmness and a more rejuvenated appearance.
A mastopexy with implants constitutes two distinct procedures—a breast augmentation and a breast lift—performed in one surgical setting. Therefore, if you elect to undergo the lift along with breast implants, virtually all the same factors need to be considered as they would for a breast augmentation—plus a few more.
A breast reduction is very similar to a standard mastopexy as regards the incisions except that the amount of breast tissue removed is far greater. The difference is that the primary motivation of these women with very large droopy breasts is to significantly reduce their breast size and therefore, the weight on their chest in order to alleviate their symptoms. The lift portion is secondary in their priorities for the procedure whereas in a mastopexy, it is the lift portion that is the main purpose for the surgery and not the small reduction.
Types of Breast Lift
Factors such as the extent of drooping, skin elasticity, amount of excess skin, current and desired breast size, nipple position and physician preference will influence the type of mastopexy performed. The most common approaches include:
- Crescent or mini lift. This lift entails the removal of a crescent of skin using an incision placed along the top half of the areola and extending upwards. This approach can be used only when the amount of skin laxity is very minimal.
- Periareolar mastopexy (also called a circumareolar, purse string, donut or Benelli mastopexy). The skin tightening, contouring and elevation of the nipple-areola complex are accomplished through an incision that encircles the entire areola. A donut of skin is removed from around the areola, converted a larger circle to a smaller one. This can be employed with somewhat minor sagging of the breasts. Patients will often request this approach because of the limited incisions used which translates into fewer scars. However, Dr. Turkeltaub will rarely recommend this technique because the abnormal, significantly flattened contour that is created is generally aesthetically unacceptable. (For more about this read Periareolar Mastopexy: Sacrificing Shape and More for Less Incisions which is in the blog section.)
- “Lollipop” mastopexy. With this approach, the incision encircles the areola then extends down to the crease at the lower part of the breast, creating the shape of a lollipop. It allows for slightly greater contouring than the periareolar incision but does not address vertical skin excess which is most often present so, in Dr. Turkeltaub’s opinion, there are very limited situations where this would be a good choice.
- Inverted-T or anchor shaped mastopexy. This is the most common technique used for a mastopexy and involves not only the circumareolar and vertical incisions extending to the lower breast crease but also adds a variable length incision extending along the crease. The resulting configuration is, therefore, an anchor shape or inverted “T” scar. This approach inherently allows for far greater flexibility, control and accuracy in contouring and positioning of the breast which translates into a much more natural appearing breast. Consequently, it is the approach employed the vast majority of the time when a mastopexy is indicated.
Dr. Turkeltaub will discuss in detail these and all other relevant factors during your consultation.
Your Breast Lift Procedure
Breast lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient. The surgical time required depends on the extent of the drooping, skin quality, the technique used for the lift and if a breast enlargement with implants is performed at the same time. For a full lift (inverted T) along with insertion of breast implants, the usual operative time is around three hours. Subsequent time in the recovery room is approximately one and a half hours.
This procedure is commonly combined with a tummy tuck and liposuction as part of a “Mommy Makeover” in order to improve the areas affected by pregnancy.
Recovery from a Breast Lift
The mastopexy procedure by itself is usually associated with fairly mild postoperative discomfort. It is when breast implants are used and placed behind the muscle that the level of pain is more significant, typically similar to that for a breast augmentation.
You will have a comfortable and supportive circumferential dressing on your chest for a few days which will then be replaced in the office with a supportive bra. Dr. Turkeltaub recommends that you regularly wear a supportive bra in order to provide the needed support and to help slow down to inevitable sagging that will continue over time.
Most women can return to school or a non-strenuous job within several days to 1 week following surgery. It is strongly recommended that you avoid vigorous activities such as sports and aerobics for around three to four weeks. For best scar outcome, certain activities should be limited for around eight weeks.
The results from the surgery can be quite gratifying with perky, attractive, alluring and more youthful appearing breasts.
Breast Lift Scars
Postoperative scarring is an inevitable aspect of any surgery involving incisions, but breast lift scars usually heal in an acceptable way and do fade to some extent with time. Their ultimate appearance depends on multiple factors such as the type of mastopexy performed, the skill of your plastic surgeon, your skin color, genetics, age, nutrition, early activity level, usage of anti-scar agents and continuation of smoking. Due to its numerous advantages, Dr. Turkeltaub most commonly utilizes the inverted “T” incision pattern to perform breast lift surgery, which results in a scar that is able to be concealed under the majority bra and swimsuit styles. Once incisions are fully healed, most patients have little to no concerns about their mastopexy scarring and are extremely excited about their new breast appearance.
Cost of a Breast Lift
Based on more than 3,000 patient submissions to RealSelf.com, the cost of breast lift surgery can span from $2,875 to $12,500, with the average expense being $7,875. The reason for such a wide price range is due to many factors that are unique to each patient, the plastic surgeon she chooses and her customized treatment plan.
Some of the most common elements influencing mastopexy costs include:
- The amount of skin removal and tissue recontouring needed
- Whether or not breast implants are simultaneously placed (and if so, which type of implants are used—silicone is more expensive)
- The skill level and experience of the plastic surgeon
- The region/city of the country in which the plastic surgery practice is located
- Anesthesia and operating facility fees
- Pre- and post-operative medications that might be necessary
To receive a personalized price quote for breast lift surgery, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Turkeltaub. Based on your needs and goals, a surgical plan can be formulated and a more exact cost determined. If you are interested in financing your procedure, we work with several healthcare lending companies that offer affordable monthly payment options for cosmetic surgery and would be happy to assist you with this.
Breast Lift Without Surgery—Is It Possible?
Although some online resources claim that various chest exercises can lift the breasts and help women attain a rejuvenated appearance, the reality is that surgery is the only way to truly address breast sagging and comprehensively restore a perkier, more youthful chest aesthetic. Push-ups, bench presses and other chest-targeting exercises work to strengthen musculature and may reduce fat beneath and/or around the breasts, but they do not have an effect on glandular tissue or excess, stretched skin. As a result, they will not provide any notable elevation to the breasts themselves.
In contrast, breast lift surgery removes extra skin, reshapes breast tissue and physically raises the breasts to a heightened, more natural location on the chest wall. Without this surgical skin removal and tissue recontouring, achieving an elevated, more youthful breast appearance is not possible.
Breast Lift Before-and-After Photos
The following are some before-and-after photos of some of Dr. Turkeltaub’s mastopexy patients, revealing the true benefits of the breast lift procedure.
Due to social media policies, the following images have been censored. Please click on the image below to view the image.
How painful is a breast lift?A.
For most patients, discomfort following a mastopexy is generally mild and often well tolerated with some Tylenol. Some even do not need any pain medication whatsoever. Of course, pain is subjective and one patient may find breast lift surgery more uncomfortable than another.
Dr. Turkeltaub uses approaches that can help minimize the initial postoperative discomfort.
My breasts are very droopy but I don’t want scars on my breast that are needed for a lift. Can Dr. Turkeltaub just do a breast enlargement without the breast lift?A.
Placing breast implants alone will not correct breast drooping except rarely in the most mild of situations. What would happen is that your breasts would be hanging off of the implants creating a bizarre appearance. Therefore, if you don’t want to undergo the breast lift, Dr. Turkeltaub would not perform surgery on your breasts.
Will I lose sensation in my nipple?A.
There can be some permanent loss of sensation in your nipples following a mastopexy. However, it is Dr. Turkeltaub’s experience that most women retain nearly all if not all of their sensation. It is very rare to permanently lose all sensation.
Is a breast lift permanent?A.
No. Your breasts will continue to droop over time, starting even within the first few months after your surgery but it doesn’t occur in the exact same way as originally. Typically, your nipples don’t descend much. Instead, it is the skin between your nipples and your lower breast fold that continues to stretch which is the result of multiple factors such as the loss of elasticity of the tissues along with the effects of gravity.
How long does a breast lift last?A.
There are so many variables that will affect the durability of the results of breast lift surgery that no specific number can be given. Some of these factors include skin quality, weight fluctuations, percentage of time wearing a supportive bra, nutrition, hormonal influences, health, age, smoking, and sun exposure. Just understand that the results will deteriorate over time, but typically, the breasts will always look better than if a mastopexy had never been done.
Can I prevent my breasts from continuing to droop?A.
You can’t prevent your breasts from sagging over time but you sure can slow down the process. Some things you can do include wearing a supportive bra on a regular basis, minimizing weight fluctuations, keeping in a good nutritional state, and avoiding tanning booths or sun tans. Other influential factors that you don’t have control over include heredity, age and hormone levels. Larger breast implants will affect sagging to a much greater extent than smaller ones.
I am not sure if we are going to have another child. If we do decide to have one more child, would it still be possible for me to breastfeed?A.
The techniques generally used for a mastopexy do not disrupt the milk ducts and their attachments to the nipple. Consequently, there should be no direct impact on the ability to breastfeed. However, it is important to realize that having been able to breastfeed in the past does not guarantee one hundred percent that you will be able to do so in the future.
Is a breast lift covered by insurance?A.
A breast lift is a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by any health insurance. However, to help make high-quality aesthetic care available for patients who desire it, we do offer a range of financing options that can help you pay for your procedure. Trusted, third-party healthcare lenders CareCredit® and Alphaeon® offer low- and no-interest payment plans to qualified applicants.
Additional Information About Breast Lift (Mastopexy) from Dr. Turkeltaub
Read more about breast lift (mastopexy) on Dr. Turkeltaub’s breast surgery blog.