What is a Breast Lift?

During a Breast Lift, also known as Mastopexy, excess skin is removed and breast tissue is reshaped to raise the breasts.  Breasts sag and change over time due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain or loss, aging, among others. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast lift procedures have grown 70% since 2000, outpacing breast implants 2-to-1.  Here in Dr. McDonald’s office, Breast Lifts are among the most common cosmetic procedures in 2019.


Who is a candidate for a Breast Lift?

Breast lift surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image. A breast lift is a good option for you if:

  • You are physically healthy and maintain a stable weight
  • You do not smoke
  • You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts sag or have lost shape and volume
  • Your breasts have a flatter, elongated shape or are pendulous
  • When unsupported, your nipples fall below the breast crease
  • Your nipples and areolas point downward
  • You have stretched skin and enlarged areolas
  • One breast is lower than the other


About The Surgery

The operation is typically performed under general anesthesia and in an outpatient surgery center or hospital.  The operation time may range from three to four hours and depends on the complexity of the operation needed to perform. Most patients may be discharged home after the surgery, although some desire to stay one night for observation or convenience.

Dr. McDonald marks the patient prior to the procedure in the preoperative staging area and then the patient is carefully prepared by an Anesthesiologist and Registered Nurse. 

The incision used varies with the complexity of the changes that are desired.  Small lifts with minimal ptosis and excess skin require only an incision around the Areola.  This is called a Periareolar mastopexy.  If there is more sagginess to the breast and more skin removal is needed then a vertical component is added to allow more adequate contouring.   A breast implant can also be placed with any of these incisions.


What is Recovery for a Breast Lift?

After your breast lift procedure is completed, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. You’ll need to wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for your breasts following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

​Dr. McDonald advises all breast surgery patients to rest and recover for 1 week (no driving, light work)  Sutures may require removal at various stages of healing. Many patients will feel capable of returning to work within one week of surgery, however, regular activity and exercise routines may need modification for up to 3 to 4 weeks. 


What are the Risks to Breast Lift Surgery?

Scarring is usually the most frequent concern of patients with mastopexy and it is understandable.  Dr. McDonald carefully puts incisions in the folds of the breast, camouflaging most of the potential scarring. While the incisions initially are scary, over time most improve dramatically and, in fact, some become almost imperceptible.  Rarely a scar revision may be desired.Other complications include bleeding or infection.  These are very rare and care is taken to prevent these.  Many women worry about being able to breast feed after surgery or whether a loss of sensation can occur to the nipple.  Although it is true that some patients can lose the ability to breast feed after mastopexy, many still can.  Changes in nipple sensation is also not uncommon and Dr. McDonald pays close attention to restoring the nipple sensation to the normal preoperative state.