The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported a four percent increase in breast lift procedures from 2017 to 2018 with some 110,000 surgeries being performed. A breast lift or mastopexy can be performed alone or in conjunction with a breast augmentation (read our guide to Breast Augmentation Solutions) or breast reduction (check out our deep dive into Breast Reduction & Revision Solutions) and address concerns related to breast sagging, asymmetry, drooping nipples, and areola stretching. For patients dealing with the effects of age, gravity, weight change, or pregnancy, both invasive and non-invasive breast lifts can help to restore the projection and contour of the chest.
Who might consider a breast lift?
As discussed in our guide to Breast Shape & Size Concerns, the size and shape of the chest is, first and foremost, determined by genetics. A study of 16,000 women in the journal BMC Medical Genetics found that there are no short of seven genetic factors associated with breast size. As women age, their breasts naturally lose their perkiness as a result of gravity and the natural degradation of the structural tissue. Additionally, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and breastfeeding can all impact the volume and structure of the breasts.
Female Breast Anatomy
In all of these cases, breasts sag, nipples droop, and the areola begin to look stretched. Fortunately, there are both invasive and non-invasive breast lift procedures to restore the breasts.
What can you expect from a breast lift procedure?
Generally speaking, surgical breast lifts involve making one or more incisions on or around the breast to remove excess breast skin and breast tissue and shift the areola and nipple into a higher position. Deep tissue sutures are then used to support the new breast positioning. Depending on the degree of alteration desired, there are four main types of surgical breast lift techniques that are named after the incision patterns they require.
- Crescent (a.k.a. Half Moon) Lift: Most commonly performed in conjunction with a breast augmentation, the crescent lift is the least invasive breast lift surgery. A half moon-shaped incision is made around the top half of the areola, resulting in a subtle lifting effect once the incision is closed.
- Periareolar (a.k.a Donut) Lift: In this procedure, a circular incision is made concentric to the areola. The skin between the two is removed, as is the excess tissue. Once closed, the patient will have smaller breasts and areola. The procedure is best for women who require mild to moderate lifting.
- Vertical (a.k.a. Lollipop) Lift: Used to correct moderate sagging and breast shape concerns, the vertical incision combines the periareolar cut with an additional incision that runs from the bottom of the areola to the breast fold (hence the lollipop metaphor) to remove additional skin and tissue.
- Inverted-T (a.k.a. Anchor) Lift: For patients with severe sagging and reshaping needs, the inverted-T incision will likely provide the most effective results. Using the same incisions as the lollipop reduction, a horizontal cut is also made along the breast crease (a la an anchor) to remove excess skin and tissue.
As with any surgical procedure, a patient can expect pain, bruising, swelling in the immediate aftermath. Breast lift patients typically see full recovery in six weeks and full results in several months.
For patients who are not looking for cosmetic surgery, but would like to improve the overall appearance of the breast, a non-invasive, radiofrequency-assisted breast lift can stimulate collagen production and create an overall lifting and firming effect.
When should you consider a breast lift procedure?
Breast lifts are often performed in conjunction with other breast surgeries. Adding a breast lift to a breast augmentation surgery, breast reduction surgery, or so-called 'mommy makeover' can help to further refine the results. Generally speaking a good candidate is someone in good health with an appropriate medical history, but, as with any breast procedure, it is important to consider the timing.
Women who are planning to become pregnant or breastfeed may consider holding off on a breast lift until their bodies are healed. The breasts undergo significant volume fluctuations during pregnancy and breastfeeding that could interfere with the results. With that said, a breast lift is an ideal procedure to consider after having children as it can have a restorative effect.
Why should you consider a breast lift procedure?
While breast lift procedures are complementary to other breast surgeries, they can also be performed alone. Women who are concerned about the sagging or drooping of their breasts can restore more youthful, perkier, and symmetrical breasts and areola with both surgical and non-surgical breast lifts.
Surgical Breast Lift Procedures
Surgical breast lift procedures effectively address concerns related to sagging breast shape, stretched areola, and drooping nipples by removing extra skin and tissue. That loss of volume helps to improve the shape and projection of the entire breast. Consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon will ensure the proper incision pattern is selected for the patient's concerns.
Non-Surgical Breast Lift Procedures
For patients who require minimal lifting and shaping and are looking for a non-surgical alternative, there are less invasive treatment options that can provide transformative results.
Breast lift procedures can improve the outline of the breast contour and provide a more youthful shape and projection. Like breast augmentation and breast reduction, breast lift procedures can alter the size of the breasts and provide significant and lasting results. Whether you consider the procedure as an addition to another breast surgery or as part of a mommy makeover, the results can rejuvenate the entire chest area.