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Mastopexy (breast lift)

Introduction

A mastopexy or breast lift involves lifting a breast that has become droopy (or ptotic) owing to the effects of gravity, time, pregnancy/ breast feeding, weight loss, or the patient’s natural build. Patients are typically concerned about a drop in the position of the nipple, which may point downwards, and a loss of fullness in the upper part of the breast. In addition to lifting the breast, a mastopexy may also reduce the size of the areola (the darker skin around the nipple)

MASTOPEXY/ BREAST LIFT/ UPLIFT

  • Type of anaesthetic
    General anaesthetic
    Length of surgery
    1-2 hours
    Nights in hospital
    0-1 nights
    Scars
    Varies: around nipple/ ‘lollipop’/ ‘anchor’

  • Recovery
    1-2 weeks off work
    4 weeks gentle exercise
    6 weeks strenuous exercise
    Follow-up
    2 weeks (dressing clinic)
    6 weeks
    6 months
    1 year

My approach

When I perform a mastopexy procedure, my aim is to revitalise the breasts, giving a more pert, youthful appearance, which looks good both clothed and unclothed. It is very important to me that my patients have an excellent awareness of what this procedure can achieve, and therefore I like to have at least two pre-operative consultations in order that we both have a clear understanding of the treatment priorities and surgical plan. It is very helpful if you can make a prioritised list of your particular concerns (e.g. shape, skin quality, nipple position, etc.), prior to your consultation, as this will allow us to work through the most appropriate options for you.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Many women seeking this procedure do so to reverse the changes that have occurred to their breasts as a result of pregnancy and breastfeeding. A mastopexy procedure poses no risk for future pregnancy, and does not usually interfere with breastfeeding. However, any pregnancy after the operation is likely to stretch the breast again and undo at least some of the benefit of the operation. Therefore, I usually advise waiting until your family is complete before making the decision to proceed with surgery.

The Surgery

A number of surgical options are available, depending on the desired breast size and shape, the degree of ptosis (droop), skin and soft tissue quality. These options include a ‘straightforward’ breast augmentation for milder cases, or removal of excess skin +/- small amounts of breast tissue in more severe cases. This results is more extensive scarring on the breast, similar to that seen with a breast reduction. Where an augmentation is performed, the scar will lie in the crease under the breast. When excess skin needs to be removed and the nipple repositioned, there will always be a scar running around the nipple. In most cases, this will be combined with a vertical scar on the breast (the ‘lollipop’ scar). In some cases, a scar running under the breast will also be necessary (‘anchor’ scar). Despite the fact that little or no breast tissue is removed, this procedure may result in a reduction in bra cup size as the existing breast tissue is encompassed into a smaller and tighter skin envelope.

AUGMENTATION MASTOPEXY

A third option may be used when there is a loss of breast volume in combination with a significant degree of ptosis. This operation involves combining skin tightening with the insertion of breast implants, or augmentation mastopexy. This is a relatively complex procedure, and it may be performed in one or two stages. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed as part of the pre-operative consultation process.

AUGMENTATION MASTOPEXY/ BREAST UPLIFT WITH IMPLANTS

  • Type of anaesthetic
    General anaesthetic
    Length of surgery
    2-3 hours
    Nights in hospital
    1 night
    Scars
    Varies: around nipple/ ‘lollipop’/ ‘anchor’
  • Recovery
    1-2 weeks off work
    4 weeks gentle exercise
    6 weeks strenuous exercise
    Follow-up
    1 week (dressing clinic)
    2 weeks
    6 weeks
    6 months
    Annual check-up for life