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Breast Lift Surgery Procedure, Recovery Time & Complications

A breast lift surgery, also known as Mastopexy, is the procedure to address breast ptosis (sagging), remove excess skin, and tighten the breast tissues to improve the shape and contour.

If you feel that your breasts have lost their shape, perkiness, and volume, you can consult a plastic surgeon and consider getting a breast lift. The procedure will help to restore the youthful appearance of the breasts. If you are a woman who has lost breast elasticity and firmness due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight fluctuations, aging, or heredity, then you opt for breast lift treatment.

Reasons to Get A Breast Lift

A woman might want to undergo breast lift surgery due to the following reasons-

  • The breast has lost its shape after pregnancy or breastfeeding. Most women experience significant changes in breast shape, and the skin stretches out. This can be addressed with a breast lift (combined with or without implants).
  • The woman has lost a considerable amount of body weight. It is natural for the breast to lose its contour and volume after significant weight loss. A breast lift can make the breasts proportionate to each other and remove the loose, excess skin.
  • Drooping is a problem for you from the start. Many women have drooping breasts since their early teens. The breast lifting treatment can improve the profile.

Besides the above reasons, you can also benefit from a breast lift if you notice the following signs-

  • The nipples point downwards and signify that the breasts have stretched out excessively.
  • If the areola sits below the breast crease.
  • In case your breasts are asymmetrical or have an unusual shape.
  • The areola has stretched out of proportion.

You should know that even breast lift surgery has its limitations. If you want to get the lost volume, it will be better to combine a breast lift with breast augmentation. You can also combine a breast lift with breast reduction if you wish to get smaller breasts.

How to prepare for a Breast Lift?

To prepare for a breast lift, you need to have a detailed consultation with your plastic surgeon. Explain your reasons for getting a breast lift to the doctor. He/she will check your breasts and describe the options to lift the breasts.

Once everything is finalized, the doctor or medical team will provide you with instructions for preparation. Along with that, make sure that you provide a detailed medical history and provide the reports of all the diagnostic tests recommended by the doctor.

One or weeks before the surgery, you’ll have to-

  • Stop taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, and others, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Ask the surgeon which prescribed medications you can take and which need to be avoided at all costs.
  • Stop smoking entirely, as it can impair the healing process of the body.
  • Start eating healthy and exercising before the surgery, as you’ll ultimately have to adopt a better lifestyle after the surgery.

On the day of surgery, you will be asked to-

  • Follow the doctor’s instructions regarding when to stop eating and drinking.
  • Take the medications prescribed by the doctor with only a small sip of water.
  • Wear loose clothes and bring an extra pair of clean clothes.
  • Arrive at the hospital at the scheduled time.

What happens during Mastopexy?

Before taking you to the operating room/theater (OT), the nursing staff will clean the body and hand you a hospital gown to wear.

In the OT, the surgery takes place in the following steps-

  • The patient is positioned on the operating table, and anesthesia is administered through the IV line.
  • The procedure is started as soon as the anesthesia takes effect and the patient’s body is numb.
  • An incision is made using the most suitable technique between crescent lift, donut lift, lollipop lift, or anchor lift.
  • The underlying breast tissues are lifted and reshaped by excising the excess tissues.
  • If required, the nipple and areola are repositioned to make them proportionate to the breasts. The perimeter of the areolas may also be adjusted if it is enlarged.
  • The excess skin tissues are also excised to compensate for the loss of elasticity in the breasts.
  • After reshaping and contouring the breasts, the remaining skin is tightened, and stitches are used to close the incision.

Often, the incision lines that form as a result of breast lift are hidden or covered by natural breast contours. The stitches are covered with bandages or dressings. The incision lines will fade away gradually so that you have minimal scarring. The plastic surgeon also chooses the incision line that is best suited for your anatomy.

Types of Breast Lift

After analyzing the patient’s breast, the plastic surgeon may choose one of the following techniques to perform the breast lift surgery-

1: Crescent Lift- For Minimal Sagging

It is the most suitable technique for women who have a very small extent of sagging. It involves making a small incision around the top-half edge of the areola. This technique is often chosen when the patient gets a breast augmentation alongside.

2: Peri-Areolar or “Donut” Lift- For Mild Sagging

This technique is best for women with mild sagging. It involves making a circular incision around the areola to access the breast tissue and reduce the areola size. The resulting scar is often hidden in the natural contour.

3: Vertical or “Lollipop” Lift- For Moderate Sagging & Extensive Reshaping

This type of breast lift involves making 2 incisions. The first one is made around the edge of the areola, and the second one is made vertically from the bottom of the areola till the inframammary fold. The shape of incisions resembles a lollipop, hence, the type is called lollipop breast lift.

With this technique, a considerable amount of excess skin is removed, and the breast is reshaped properly without causing visible scarring.

4: Inverted T or “Anchor” Lift- For Extensive Sagging & Dramatic Reshaping

This type of breast lift is chosen for women who have extensive sagging and need dramatic reshaping of the breasts. It involves making three incisions- one around the areola edge, one from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease, and one along the inframammary fold (below the breast crease). This technique is chosen when breast reduction is being performed in combination with a breast lift.

In all types of breast lifts, the visible scarring is minimal. The plastic surgeon will explain these types before the surgery so that you know what to expect from the procedure.

After the Surgery

Immediately after the surgery, the breasts will be covered with a gauze dressing and a surgical support bra. Drainage tubes are also placed with the incision to allow excess fluid and blood to drain out.

You will be taken to the recovery room, where you’ll have to stay until you wake up. Later, you’ll be transferred to your ward. Due to the anesthesia effects, you might feel a little disoriented, nauseous, or numb in the chest region. The nursing staff will monitor your vital signs, and if everything is fine, you will get discharged within 24 hours.

Before discharge, the doctor will give detailed instructions for the recovery period and follow-up consultations. A diet chart will also be given that should be followed for a faster and smoother recovery.

Risks & Complications

Some risks and complications associated with breast lift surgery include-

  • Scarring- There is no doubt that scars are unwanted results of surgery. A plastic surgeon usually chooses the incision line according to the patient’s anatomy to ensure that the scars are hidden in the natural crease lines of the body.
  • Changes in Nipple/Breast Sensations- The sensations usually return after a few weeks. However, if some nerves get damaged during the surgery, it can affect the sensations in the breasts or nipples.
  • Uneven Results- During the recovery period, if you fail to follow the doctor’s advice, the breast shape may change, and the results might be uneven.
  • Partial/Total Loss of Nipple/Areola- Though it is a rare complication, the blood supply in the nipple or areola may be affected, which can lead to a partial or total loss. It usually happens when the areola is enlarged and needs to be corrected.
  • Issues with Breastfeeding- Some glandular tissues may get damaged during the procedure. If this happens, these glands may not be able to produce milk, which will affect breastfeeding.

Other common risks are post-surgery infection, bleeding, swelling, bruising, and adverse reaction to anesthesia. With proper care, you will be able to minimize the risk of post-surgery complications.

Recovery

As mentioned above, detailed instructions will be given to you for the recovery period. The common tips will include the following-

  • Don’t stress if the surgical site is numb for the first few days. The sensations will take some time to come back.
  • Take your pain medications as directed by the doctor without fail. Continue the medicines as long as necessary.
  • Do not drive while you are on pain medications. Resume only after you stop taking the medicines.
  • Avoid engaging in sexual activities for at least 1-2 weeks after the procedure.
  • Resume daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, etc., after asking the doctor.
  • Avoid washing your hair, showering, bathing, swimming, or sitting in hot tubs entirely. Do so only after getting permission from the doctor.
  • Change your dressing regularly and clean the wound carefully. Don’t remove the bandage if your doctor hasn’t given you any instructions regarding the same.
  • Depending on the type of stitches used to close the incision, you may have to visit the doctor to get the stitches removed after 10-15 days.
  • Wear the support bra 24x7 for 2 weeks and up to 12-15 hours a day after that until you’ve healed completely.
  • Do not go out in the sun or let your wound come in direct contact with sunlight. This can cause darkening of the skin and also affect the healing.
  • Sleep with your upper body elevated to a 45-degree angle. Use pillows to provide support to your back. You can sleep in the regular position after 2 weeks. Also, avoid sleeping on your sides until the recovery is complete.
  • Do not perform strenuous activities as they can increase the risk of tearing up the stitches. Take it slow and get back to your normal routine slowly.

The results of the breast lift will be as desired only if you follow these instructions carefully. If you fail to do so, the results may be slightly different than expected.

Results of Breast Lift Surgery

The changes in the breast shape and contour will be visible right after the surgery. However, their shape will continue to change and settle as your body heals over the next few months. The scar will be prominent in the beginning but will start to fade away slowly. Within 1 to 2 years period of time, the scar lines will be soft, thin, and less noticeable after breast lift surgery. Once the healing is complete, the breasts will look firmer, perkier, and younger, giving you a variety of wardrobe choices.

The results of a breast lift surgery are not permanent. If you get pregnant again or have significant weight fluctuations due to any reason, the breast will again change shape, and mild to moderate sagging may occur. To retain the results, you will have to maintain a good, healthy, and active lifestyle.

Does breast lift affect breastfeeding?

Many women who wish to get a breast lift feel concerned about whether the procedure will impact breastfeeding or milk production. In most cases, the surgery doesn’t have a significant impact on the milk glands. Thus, most women can breastfeed even after the surgery.

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