Breast lift or mastopexy is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape breasts that sit lower on the chest. This is achieved by removing excess skin and repositioning the nipple and areola higher on the chest wall.
Many women experience changes in the shape and fullness of their breasts as they age, with pregnancy, breastfeeding and weight fluctuation. Some women naturally have breasts with a significant amount of breast tissue that sits below the skin crease at the lower pole of the breast known as the inframammary fold. When the breasts have a deflated empty appearance and sit low on the chest, they are often described as ‘sagging’, the medical description for this appearance is ptosis (the p is silent).
These changes are natural. However, breasts that have lost their natural elasticity can cause discomfort, skin irritation and interfere with exercise. Some women may want to restore the shape and fullness of their breasts for aesthetic reasons.
Breast lift surgery gives the breasts a more firm and raised appearance
Breast lift surgery (mastopexy) aims to restore or create fuller and firmer breasts by removing excess skin and reshaping the remaining breast tissue to allow the breasts to sit above the inframammary fold. One of the major benefits of this surgical procedure is that women can improve the appearance of their breasts without needing implants.
If an increase in volume or size of the breasts is desired, then consideration should be given to a breast augmentation using a breast implant. Breast augmentation with a breast implant can be performed in combination with breast lift surgery.
At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us. You can discover some of our wonderful patients’ journeys here.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Dr Avery will listen to your concerns and what you want to achieve with surgery. Dr Avery will assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
There are different techniques used to remove the excess breast skin and reshape the breast tissue. If the patient wishes, the size of the areola can also be reduced during this surgical procedure. The specific technique is based on the amount of excess breast skin the surgeon needs to remove to achieve the best outcome. The technique also determines the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.
The three common breast lift techniques are:
The Circumareolar Technique
A circular incision made around the edge of the areola and a second, larger incision around the first one. In addition to providing a slight lift, the circumareolar (or “doughnut”) technique can be used to reduce areola size. This technique may be suitable for people who do not have severe ptosis.
The Vertical Technique
Incisions are made extending around the areola and down the midline of the breast, to achieve a significant lift. This technique is appropriate for patients with larger breasts and moderate to severe ptosis. The scar that results from this technique is often referred to a lollipop scar.
The Anchor Technique
The most common and most extensive, this technique involves incisions which extend around the areola, down the midline of the breast, and across the lower crease of the breast. This technique is appropriate for patients with larger breasts.
A breast lift with no additional procedures will usually last 2–3 hours, with another 1–2 hours for recovery before the patient can go home. Some patients decide to stay in hospital overnight following surgery.
After the surgery, the patient’s breasts will be covered with gauze and they will have to wear a surgical support bra. Small tubes might be placed at the incision sites in the breasts to drain any excess blood or fluid.
There are two main pathways to a consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon. Your GP or another health practitioner can make a referral to Dr Avery. Alternatively, it is possible to refer yourself for a consultation. This decision may be made after talking with family or friends, or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
Plastic surgery is a varied specialty with a number of surgeries to treat a variety of conditions or concerns. A unique feature of plastic surgery is the ability of the surgical procedures to produce physical changes that can also impact psychological functioning in a positive way.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss both your concerns and your goals. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate, improve, restore, enhance, or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.
When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our front-desk team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation.
The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.
After your consultation, our support team will be there to talk through any further questions you have including the cost of the surgery.
Plastic surgery procedures generally impact both physical appearance and your psychological response to the new changes in your body. Besides all the advantages to having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes possible complications and what can be done if these occur. Dr Avery and the Avery team will be available to answer all of your questions.
Generally, one or two overnight stays are required post-surgery to aid with recovery. Depending on the complexity of the surgery, up to two weeks off work may also be recommended.
If you have undergone another surgery in addition to the breast lift, a longer stay in hospital might also be necessary for recovery. As with any operation, you will need to organise somebody to drive you home. We encourage our patients to have another adult stay with them during the first night after surgery.
After breast lift surgery or mastopexy, you will be required to wear a compression garment for 4–6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling, which generally subsides about two weeks after the surgery.
A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, we can adjust the pain medication accordingly.
Breast Lift FAQs
It all depends on the results you want to achieve. If you want to lift your breasts higher on the chest, and also increase the size of your breasts, then a breast lift with implants might be the right procedure for you. On the other hand, if you would like to restore the shape and fullness of your breasts without increasing their size, a breast lift alone might give you the results you want to achieve with surgery.
Ultimately, a consultation with a surgeon is needed to determine what is most appropriate for you as an individual.
Most women retain normal nipple sensation after surgery. Generally, the chance that there will be a change in nipple sensation increases with the extensiveness of the surgery.
Some women may experience a reduced sensation in the nipples that can be temporary or permanent. They may also find their nipples hypersensitive for a short time after surgery.
The extent of the scars will be dependent on the technique used to perform the breast lift.
The scars from the incisions should look like a thin line, initially a bit raised above your skin. Their appearance will vary depending on the technique used to reduce the breasts and your genetics. There are people more prone to hyperpigmentation and hypertrophic scars or keloids. As the scars heal, they will flatten and eventually fade and they will usually not be visible in clothing.
Breastfeeding after breast lift surgery is possible. In most cases, although the position of the nipple is changed it remains attached to the breast and there is no damage to milk ducts. However, any surgery to the breast can potentially divide connections of the breast tissue and ducts and reduce the ability to breast feed in the future.
The size of your breast will not increase with a breast lift, but your breasts will feel and look fuller and firmer after surgery.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dr Avery is a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, ASAPS and ASPS. Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.