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.
The experience of ptosis is an expected change over the course of a woman's life. However, breasts that have lost their natural elasticity can cause discomfort, skin irritation and interfere with exercise. Some women may also want to change the shape and fullness of their breasts for aesthetic reasons.
Please note that individual results will vary depending on the individual, their genetics and lifestyle factors, and all surgeries have associated risks. Before proceeding with any surgery, it is advisable to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner such as a Plastic Surgeon. Dr. Gary Avery (MED0001633092) a registered medical practitioner, with specialist registration in Surgery – Plastic Surgery. Dr Avery is also a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.
Breast lift surgery (mastopexy) aims to address ptosis by removing excess skin and reshaping the remaining breast tissue to allow the breasts to sit above the inframammary fold.
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.
Patients considering any form of breast surgery will need to come in for a consultation with Dr Avery to discuss your expectations, along with the surgical options for how these can be achieved. During your consultation with the Avery team, we will ensure that the surgery you are considering is the appropriate choice for you.
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.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Your reasons for having surgery and your expectations from surgery are important conversations to have before undergoing surgery. Dr Avery will also assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
Your Breast Lift
Your GP or another specialist that knows you well must make a referral to Dr Avery. The decision to have a consultation may be made after talking with family or friends or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss your motivations for surgery and expectations from surgery. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate 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 Care 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.
Plastic surgery procedures can impact physical appearance and there may be a psychological response to the changes in your body after surgery. Besides the reasons for 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 the risks of having surgery and all of the possible complications that can occur after surgery, and what can be done if these occur.
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.
Your consultation will also include a discussion of the estimated financial implications of having this surgery or surgeries that were discussed with Dr Avery.
After your consultation, our Care Team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.
At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.
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.
As with all surgical procedures, breast lift surgery does have risks, despite the highest standards of practice. It is not usual for any surgeon to outline every possible side effect or rare complication of a surgical procedure. However, it is important that you have enough information about the most common risks to fully weigh up the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery.
The following possible complications are listed to inform and not to alarm you. There may be other complications that are not listed. Smoking, obesity, and other significant medical problems will cause greater risk of complications.
Some general risks and possible complications of surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Heavy bleeding from an operated site. This may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases.
- Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions.
- The formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site may require further surgery.
- Complications such as heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke may be caused by a blood clot, which can be life threatening.
- Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s).
- Slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes.
- Short-term nausea following general anaesthesia and other risks related to anaesthesia.
- Tissue cannot heal without scarring and that how one scars is dependent on individual genetic characteristics. Dr Avery will do his best to minimise scarring but cannot control its ultimate appearance.
- Smoking or using nicotine products during the 3–4-week pre-operative and post-operative periods is prohibited as these could dramatically increase the chances of complications.
- All medications I am currently taking, including prescriptions, over the counter remedies, herbal therapies and supplements, aspirin, and any other recreational drug or alcohol use can affect the safety of my surgery.
- There can be no guarantees about the results of any surgery.
Some specific risks for breast lift surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Bleeding/haematoma requiring surgery
- Asymmetry of breasts and/or nipples
- Sores or numbness around nipples
- Change in nipple and skin sensation
- Discomfort (pain/sensitivity)
- Delayed healing
- Excessive firmness of breast
- Permanent and noticeable scarring
- Wound separation
- Disappointment/unsatisfactory result
- Recurrence of sag, stretching/loosening of skin
- Further surgery required (revision surgery)
- Skin or nipple/areola loss requiring further treatment
- Further recovery time if further surgery is required
- DVT (deep vein thrombosis) – clot in legs or PE (pulmonary embolus) – clot in lungs
- Allergic reactions to tape, suture material, topical preparations
- Nipple retraction/poor contour
- Different size than expected
The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) has further information about breast lift surgery including the possible risks for this surgery.
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.
The financial aspects of your surgery are as important as the medical elements when planning for surgery. At Avery, the surgeries we offer fall into three different financial categories: Self-funded – aesthetic surgery; self-funded – plastic and reconstructive surgery; and health insured – plastic and reconstructive surgery.
To make sense of these three financial categories, we have created a detailed price guide to help you understand what may or may not be covered by your health insurer/Medicare and your out of pocket expenses.
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact our team on 02 4002 4150.
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 indicated procedure for you; and this may possible in one surgery or may be best performed as two separate procedures. On the other hand, if you would like lift the breasts and address their shape 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. Dr Avery can discuss your surgical options given your unique circumstances and it is recommended you do your own independent research, come to your consultation with your questions, and seek a second opinion.
It is possible to 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. For further risks associated with breast lift surgery, please visit the risks section on this service page.
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. For further risks associated with breast lift surgery, please visit the risks section on this service page.
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. For further risks associated with breast lift surgery, please visit the risks section on this service page.
The size of your breast will not increase with a breast lift.
Pain will vary depending on the extent of surgery and your body’s response to the surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site. Pain will initially be managed by the hospital staff and by Dr Avery’s oversight. Physical measures such as dressings and supportive garments as well as limited movement will help with pain management. The Avery team will be following your recovery and will be supporting you to be as comfortable as you can be.
Simply walking is advised and is recommended during the first 2 weeks after surgery. An increase in activity is encouraged between 2-6 weeks, limiting this increase based on how your body feels and responds. From 6 weeks you can be mostly unrestricted with exercise but it may not be until 12 weeks following surgery that you feel you are back to pre-surgery fitness, or even improved from your pre-surgery fitness if physical symptoms and restrictions have been addressed with surgery.
Breast Lift with Implants
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Your initial consultation
During your initial consultation we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with your surgery and talk through any concerns or specific goals you may have.
Your initial consultation will include an examination of the area of concern and we'll work with you to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and which specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
The procedure may be combined with other aesthetic surgical procedures on the breast such as breast implants, breast reduction and breast augmentation.