Breast Lift

Our board-certified plastic surgeons can help give you the shape you are looking for with your breasts

Mastopexy is a procedure where the breast is reshaped to provide a more youthful appearance. A breast lift improves droopy or saggy breasts in 4 primary ways:

  • The excess loose skin of the breast is reduced
  • The breast tissue itself is reshaped, becoming firmer and more youthful
  • The nipple is elevated to the center of the breast mound
  • The size of the areola (pigmented skin around the nipple) is also reduced

Sagging of the breasts occurs for a variety of reasons, but the most common contributing factors include: pregnancy and breastfeeding, gravity, weight fluctuations, heredity, and normal aging. Physicians refer to drooping or sagging of the breasts as “ptosis,” which is commonly graded according to the diagram below.

Lifting and tightening are accomplished by removing excess skin from around the nipple and/or the lower aspect of the breast. Consequently the nipple is elevated to a more youthful position, and the areola is typically reduced in size. The amount of skin that needs to be removed depends on the degree of droopiness.

This, in turn, determines the location and extent of the incisions required to achieve proper correction. Sometimes this can be accomplished with only an incision around the areola (periareolar or doughnut mastopexy) but often additional incisions are needed. These can include incisions going down from the areola to the breast fold (vertical lift) and along the breast fold (anchor, inverted T, or wise pattern lift). Ideally Drs. Kelly and Forsberg try to limit the extent of the incisions but sometimes the overall effectiveness of the lift, and therefore the result, would be compromised if incisions are limited. These are factors that should be discussed prior to surgery.


Breast Lift FAQ

What are the scars for a breast lift?

There are three primary patterns of scar location for a breast lift. The most common type of mastopexy performed is called a vertical mastopexy, with a scar resulting in a “lollipop” configuration around the areola and down the center of the breast. In cases of mild drooping, a scar limited to the areola (peri-areolar scar) can accomplish the necessary lift and tightening. In other cases of severe ptosis or sagging, scars in an anchor configuration – around the nipple, down the center of the breast, and across the base of the breast – may be needed to provide optimal shape.

Will breast implants alone provide a left without formal mastopexy?

While increasing the volume of the breast with an implant can fill out loose skin and improve the appearance of a slightly droopy breast, it will not elevate the nipple position. If there is significant skin excess, or a significant elevation of nipple position is desired, a breast lift will most likely be needed in addition to the implant to provide the best result. During your consultation, our surgeons will perform a detailed physical exam after discussing your goals and expectations to help determine which operation is best for you. A good rule of thumb, however, is that if the nipple lies below the level of the lower breast fold, a breast lift will be needed to provide optimal results.

Can the size of the breast be enlarged or reduced in conjunction with a breast lift?

In general, mastopexy itself does not result in a significant change in the size of the breast. However, the techniques for breast reduction are very similar to breast lift operations. They result in many of the same improvements in shape and appearance of a droopy breast, while also reducing breast size. For more information about breast reduction, click here. While a breast lift will result in a breast that appears more youthful, it does not increase the overall volume of the breast. Additionally, while the breast can appear more full, the increase is primarily in the lower portion of the breast. Women who desire an increase in breast size or who are particularly concerned about improving the fullness in the upper portion or cleavage area of the breast, should also consider augmentation. Breast augmentation and mastopexy are frequently performed together in a combined operation, although they can also be performed in separate, staged operations.

What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of breast lift surgery?

A breast lift is a very common operation that helps improve the shape, projection, and appearance of the breast. It improves self confidence in many women, helping them feel better about the way they look both in and out of clothing. As with any surgical procedure, there are potential complications associated with mastopexy. Women should also realize that the aging process of the breast will continue after surgery. The beneficial effects of the operation will diminish with time, subsequent weight fluctuations, and pregnancies. Patients considering this operation need to be comfortable with the resulting scars and the potential for changes in nipple sensation.

What is the recovery process like following breast lift surgery?

While there is some discomfort following mastopexy, it is routinely very well tolerated by patients. You will be given pain medications for after surgery but usually the worst of the pain is over within 48 hours and most patients return to work 3-7 days after surgery (depending on the nature of their job).