Pulling into the swimming pool car park, you breathe a sigh of relief. From a busy morning at work, you’ve finally made it to your children’s primary school swimming carnival! You make the effort to get to these events because you remember how important it was to you when you saw your mother cheering you on.
With three races each and two blue ribbons, your children are beaming with joy. In the change rooms after the carnival, they chatter excitedly with their friends. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a young mother with her baby getting ready a swim. You smile at her as you remember how you did the same thing when your children were that young.
But your smile turns into a frown when your eldest child yells loudly, “mummy, why has that lady over there with the baby got saggy and droopy boobs?” Glowing with embarrassment, you apologize to her for your rude child. Instead of being upset, she says, “I know they’re saggy and droopy, which is why I’ve booked myself in for breast lift surgery…this is my last child, and I can’t bear to have my nipples so low anymore!”
What is a breast lift?
A breast lift also called a mastopexy is a surgical procedure that raises and reshapes sagging breasts by removing excess breast skin. A breast lift can also add volume to the breasts, which may have been lost because of genetics, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight change or ageing. During a breast lift procedure, the areola and nipple can be shifted to a higher position.
Important things to know about breast lift surgery:
- After breast lift surgery you will have permanent, noticeable scars on your breasts. Usually, these scars are around the nipple and vertically down to the fold underneath the breast.
- Your breast size will not decrease after breast lift surgery. If you have breast implants and a breast lift, your breast size will be larger.
- Breast lift surgery can reduce the size of darker skin around your nipples (the areolas).
- While the swelling reduces, your breast will always drop for 2–3 months after surgery. The breast shape will then stabilise.
- Realistic expectations about breast lift surgery are important. It’s important to express your desired outcome to the Breast Surgeon. Breast lift surgery without implants will lift your breasts well, but won’t increase the upper breast pole fullness.
Is a breast lift right for me?
Ideal candidates for breast lift surgery are healthy and emotionally stable women with realistic expectations about what breast lift surgery can achieve. It’s very common for breasts to droop after losing weight, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Not every patient seeking a breast lift needs or wants breast implants, their need depends upon the specific goals and preoperative shape of the breast. If your breasts are small or have lost upper pole volume after pregnancy, breast implants inserted in combination with a breast lift can increase both your breast size and upper pole fullness.
What happens during breast lift surgery?
There are a number of different surgical techniques used for lifting and reshaping women’s breasts. Three major types of breast lifts include:
1. The donut, Benelli, or circumareolar breast lift. This technique achieves a lift by creating a donut-shaped incision around the areola. This technique is used to correct mild breast sagging.
2. Lollipop or vertical breast lift. This technique involves incisions being made around the areola that extends downward. It is used to correct moderate to severe sagging breasts.
3. The anchor breast lift. This technique starts with lollipop incisions, and then adds a horizontal incision along the breast crease. It is used in more extreme cases of breast sagging
Breast lift surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 90 minutes. You may also have injections of local anaesthetic to help with the pain after the operation. To reduce the risk of infection, you may be given antibiotics during the operation. Your surgeon will usually insert drains (tubes) in the cuts to help your wounds to heal. They will usually close the cuts with dissolvable stitches. To support your breasts after surgery, they may be wrapped in bandages.
Breast lifts are an outpatient procedure, but some women prefer to stay in hospital overnight. It’s important to have someone to drive you home and monitor your recovery for the first one to two days after the surgery. You can find out more details about breast lift surgery here.
What is recovery like after breast lift surgery?
After your breast lift surgery, you’ll be given medication to limit any pain and nausea. Drain tubes will be removed once the seepage ceases, usually within a few hours. An intravenous drip will be removed once you can take fluids by mouth.
At home, it’s important to rest and take your medication for pain as directed. Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for up to six weeks, but you should walk daily. A light pressure bra or sports bra gives support in the first few weeks after surgery. One to two weeks off work is usually sufficient depending on the occupation.
You can usually resume driving after you’ve stopped taking strong painkillers – usually 5 to 7 days after the operation. It will take at least 4 months for the breast to settle into its new form and at least 12 months for the scars to fade.
What risks or complications are associated with breast lift surgery?
Any surgical operation brings complications of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will be able to discuss with you the possible complications of having an anaesthetic.
Specific risks and complications from a breast lift procedure include:
- Asymmetry: Breast asymmetries can occur after surgery including breast size, shape, and nipple position, and the shape and sizes of the nipples themselves.
- Breast disease: It is recommended that all women perform regular self-examination of their breasts and have breast screening such as mammograms or ultrasounds dependent upon your age, risk profile and need.
- Breast-feeding: Having breast lift surgery is unlikely to reduce your ability to breastfeed. This is not universal and is unpredictable. It’s important to note that many women (up to 20%) are unable to breastfeed even without having breast lift surgery.
- Change of breast and nipple sensation: This usually settles within 12 months, but the change in sensation may be permanent.
- Developing a lump (fat necrosis): It is usual to get lumps in your breast caused by minor damage to areas of fat during the operation. These areas can become hard and swollen. You’ll need to learn to recognise what this kind of lump feels like so you don’t confuse it with a breast cancer.
- Loss of skin: During the breast lift operation, the blood supply in your breast can get damaged. This can cause some areas of skin to die, including the nipple areola.
- Scars: After breast lift surgery you will have scars on your breast. Your Breast Surgeon will demonstrate the approximate position of these to you. Normally, a breast lift scar pattern is either a vertical (lollipop) pattern or an inverted T (anchor) pattern. The decision depends upon which will result in the best post operation shape, and will best meet your goals of surgery. Scars generally fade over time but won’t disappear. It’s normal for scars to take up to 2 years to fully mature.
- Swelling: One in 20 may develop a swelling of the breast caused by blood or fluid collecting. If you experience this, you may need another operation to remove the blood or fluid.
- Wound healing: Minor wound healing delays are not uncommon with Breast Lift surgery. Generally, dressings are sufficient to assist with this healing, and the final result is not usually affected. Wound separation after surgery is uncommon in breast lift surgery. Should this occur, additional treatment including further surgery may be required.
Find out more about the risks and complications of breast lift surgery here.
How do I find the best Breast Surgeons in Australia?
Your Breast Surgeon will carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if breast lift surgery is suitable for you. This may include taking photos for your medical records. They’ll also examine your breasts and ask you questions about your medical history.
Your surgeon will also ask you if you are planning to lose a lot of weight. It may be better to lose the weight first before having surgery. It’s important to let your Breast Surgeon know if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the future. Pregnancy can change the size and shape of your breasts and may affect the long-term results of surgery
Breast lift surgery is usually safe and effective but complications can happen. You need to know about them to help you to make an informed decision about surgery. Knowing about them will also help to detect and treat any problems early.
Do you want a breast lift surgery but also want implants? If you feel your breasts are smaller than you would like or they don’t suit your body, you could elect for Breast Lift surgery with Breast Augmentation.
Breast lift surgery is a cosmetic operation to improve the shape of your breast. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results. You can find the best Breast Surgeons in Australia here.