Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

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Genetics, pregnancy, nursing, weight fluctuation, and the natural aging process are among many factors that can cause the breasts to lose skin elasticity, firmness, and volume. The aesthetic result of these influences typically involves some degree of breast ptosis, or a downward migration of the breasts from their location on the chest wall. For women seeking to minimize the appearance of breast sag and restore the youthful characteristics of their breasts, a breast lift—medically referred to as a mastopexy—may be an effective solution. A breast lift is a cosmetic procedure designed to provide a more youthful breast appearance and body contour by reducing the look of breast sag. For the right patients, this enhancement surgery can reshape and elevate the breasts for improved projection and a rejuvenated overall aesthetic. Dr. Geoffrey Leber, our skilled plastic surgeon, utilizes the “Dermal Wing Mastopexy” technique when performing the procedure to minimize the possibility of recurrent breast sagging and achieve remarkably natural-looking results.

Key Breast Lift Terms to Know

Your understanding of the breast lift procedure is crucial to your overall satisfaction with the final results. While Dr. Leber and our team will be with you to answer your questions through every step of the treatment process, familiarizing yourself with the frequently used terms associated with mastopexy can help you gain insight into the procedure: 

  • Ptosis: As the medical name for “drooping breast tissue,” ptosis is observed in varying degrees. Severe ptosis, or breast sag, typically warrants more extensive mastopexy techniques to lift the breasts to a more youthful positioning. 
  • Areolas: The areolas, which refer to the pigmented tissue surrounding the nipples, tend to become stretched with aging, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Refining the areolas so they appear more central and proportional can be a key part of breast lift surgery.
  • Inframammary fold: Also known as the natural breast crease, the inframammary fold can be used to measure the extent of a patient’s breast sag. Mastopexy incisions are usually well-hidden when placed along the inframammary fold.
  • Pendulous: “Pendulousness” refers to the appearance of flat, hanging breasts. 
  • Glandular tissue: Glandular tissue refers to breast tissue. A combination of fat and glandular tissue usually make up the anatomy of the breasts. 

We believe that strong patient education is the best way to identify the most optimal procedure(s) to achieve your goals. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Boston office to speak with a knowledgeable member of our team. 

What Can a Breast Lift Do for Me?

A breast lift is designed to raise the breasts to a more youthful position on the chest wall in order to diminish a sagging appearance. This is accomplished by removing excess breast skin and reshaping the remaining tissue for an improved breast shape and contour. The procedure can also reduce the size of the nipples and areolas if desired, as well as restore displaced nipples to a more central location on the breast mound. When approaching a breast lift, Dr. Leber performs the Dermal Wing Mastopexy—an innovative technique that can allow the breasts to have less reliance on overlying skin for support, effectively minimizing the risk of recurrent breast sag.

Who is a Candidate for a Breast Lift?

Ideal candidates for a mastopexy wish to achieve a younger-looking breast contour and have realistic expectations for the aesthetic outcome. The procedure is generally most successful for women with moderate to significant breast ptosis (sag). During your consultation, Dr. Leber will conduct a full review of your medical history as well as an evaluation of your concerns to help ensure mastopexy is the best treatment option to achieve your cosmetic goals. The following factors are common indications that a breast lift may be a beneficial treatment option:

  • The breasts droop below the natural breast fold and the nipples point downward
  • The breasts have become pendulous or elongated
  • The breasts appear flat or “deflated”
  • The breast skin and/or areolas are stretched

If you struggle with a large breast size and/or heavy, debilitating breasts, a personalized breast reduction procedure may be a more ideal procedure choice. Breast reduction typically includes a minor to moderate breast lift in itself, so patients can still achieve a rejuvenated breast shape in addition to a more proportional breast size. Dr. Leber will help you develop an optimal treatment plan based on your needs.

Generally speaking, breasts that experience sag can be categorized in the following ways:

Degrees of Ptosis

Women whose breasts have undergone physical changes from pregnancy and nursing are usually excellent candidates for a breast lift. In fact, the surgery is commonly performed as part of a Mommy Makeover for those who wish to comprehensively restore a pre-pregnancy figure. Additionally, a breast lift can be a solution for individuals experiencing stretching of the breasts, particularly around the nipples and areola. Dr. Leber can examine your cosmetic concerns and help you determine whether a breast lift can fulfill your aesthetic goals. In some cases, a breast augmentation combined with breast lift techniques can be a more effective procedure to increase the size of the breasts while simultaneously rejuvenating their position.

Breast Lift vs. Breast Reduction

The nature of breast lift surgery is comparable to a breast reduction, which is why many patients ask about the difference between the two procedures. The Traditional Mastopexy reshapes the breasts by removing excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue causing the breasts to look pendulous or elongated. This is also true of breast reduction; however, the goal of a breast lift is to reshape the breast contours and correct ptosis (sagging) while the main objective of breast reduction is to make the breasts lighter and more manageable.

The traditional mastopexy (breast lift) and breast reduction procedures typically elevate and reposition a low nipple areola complex. The excess skin and the bottom-heavy breast tissue are then excised, and the tighter skin envelope is then closed. These two procedures are nearly identical, except more tissue is removed during a breast reduction. These techniques do little to improve the deflated upper pole of the breast and often lead to a bottomed out deflated breast appearance. This occurs over time because the skin is relied upon to support the lifted breast. The tension on the lower pole of the breast leads to expansion of the skin resulting in an increased distance from the nipple to the inframammary crease (bottomed-out breast).

With Dr. Leber’s dermal wing mastopexy technique, a pocket is created in the deflated upper pole of the breast and nearly the entire breast parenchyma can then be repositioned into this pocket, higher on the chest wall. This creates significant upper pole fullness often simulating the upper pole fullness that is achieved with a breast implant. For this reason, Dr. Leber also describes this technique as an auto-augmentation. The improved fullness and shape are achieved with your own tissue rather than an implant. Advantages over mastopexy-augmentation with an implant include a lower revision rate and no complications associated with implants.

The elevated breast tissue is supported by its attached dermis and held in place by suturing the medial and lateral dermal wings to the pectoralis fascia. This support is much like a sling or “internal bra,” holding the breast tissue up from the inside. The skin is then reshaped and closed around the elevated breast tissue. The overlying skin is not relied upon to support the elevated breast tissue resulting in better support and less skin stretch or bottomed out appearance over time.

That said, evaluating your motivations for breast surgery is key to identifying the best procedure to achieve your goals. Your consultation will be your opportunity to discuss your concerns with Dr. Leber and determine the most ideal solution for your needs. Dr. Leber would be happy to advise you in person when you visit our Boston practice.

Should I Get a Breast Lift with Implants?

Some women’s needs and goals make them better suited for a breast lift with implants rather than a traditional breast lift. This determination is made on a case by case basis during the consultation process with Dr. Leber. Candidates for breast lift surgery who have lost a considerable amount of breast volume over the years and want larger breasts to restore or enhance their prior breast size may be well-suited for a breast lift with implants. However, for those who want better breast shape with more upper pole fullness and improved shape but do not wish to have larger breasts, Dr. Leber’s Dermal Wing Mastopexy technique may be ideal for you. This allows repositioning of your bottom-heavy lower pole breast tissue into the central and upper breast, which creates the fullness of a breast implant without the implant. For more information on the breast augmentation with lift procedure, please visit our page dedicated to this specific type of breast surgery.

What are My Breast Lift Options?

Depending on the severity of breast sag experienced and your hopes for the outcome, Dr. Leber can utilize three possible incisions to lift and reposition the breasts. While each person’s treatment plan varies and may involve adjunctive techniques, incisions for breast lift surgery generally include:

After examining your concerns, Dr. Leber can advise you about the best approach to achieve the highest quality of results. Dr. Leber will thoroughly inform you of what you can expect during a breast lift so you have a strong understanding of the procedure.

How is Breast Lift Surgery Performed?

A breast lift is performed as an outpatient procedure using general anesthesia. Dr. Leber generally places incisions around the areola to allow minimal scarring and a natural-looking result. The procedure can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the complexity of your treatment plan.

Dermal Wing Mastopexy

Recognizing the limitations of a traditional breast lift, Dr. Leber developed a procedure that can better support the newly lifted breasts and reduce the occurrence of future breast sag. Conventionally, a breast lift relies on the skin to support the breasts’ new position on the chest wall, inevitably leading to eventual ptosis (hanging or bottoming out) of the breasts as the natural aging process continues and skin begins to loosen. With Dr. Leber’s Dermal Wing Mastopexy technique, the patient’s own tissue is repositioned higher on the chest wall (auto-augmentation). The normally discarded dermis is used as a medial and lateral “dermal wing” that is sutured to its higher position on the chest wall, allowing greater support of the breast, much like an internal bra or sling. This takes much of the tension away from the overlying skin. An immediate improvement in the upper pole fullness is recognized in an otherwise deflated breast, often making placement of an implant unnecessary. Dr. Leber believes this results in a longer-lasting “lifted” aesthetic for the breasts when compared to a traditional mastopexy.

Patient Results

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What is Recovery Like for a Breast Lift?

After surgery, dressings will be placed over the incisions and a surgical bra may be temporarily worn to aid the healing process. Patients can typically return home on the same day with a friend or loved one. While strenuous exercise should be avoided for approximately three weeks (or whenever cleared by Dr. Leber), work and daily activities can usually be resumed within one to two weeks.

Results from a breast lift can be noticed immediately, but will generally improve as recovery progresses. There may be some post-operative bruising or swelling, but any discomfort can be managed with oral pain medication. The final outcome from a breast lift is considered long-lasting, but the effects of gravity and aging will continue. Dr. Leber’s approach has been known to provide a longer-lasting aesthetic result when compared to a traditional breast lift procedure.

How Long Do Breast Lift Results Last?

Thanks to Dr. Leber’s Dermal Wing technique, which is designed to relieve tension on the breast skin to keep the breasts from “bottoming out,” the results of mastopexy often persist for many years despite the continuation of the aging process. This is why mastopexy outcomes for Dr. Leber’s patients typically endure longer when compared to results yielded by traditional breast lift techniques that solely rely on the skin for support. By undergoing breast lift surgery after your family is complete and adhering to a healthy lifestyle, the results of a breast lift can last for the considerable future. Women who receive a breast lift usually do not feel the need to undergo retreatment or additional procedures.

A few tips that can further prolong your newly lifted aesthetic include refraining from smoking and using sun protection to maintain good skin quality. Pregnancy and nursing have also been known to affect the lifespan of breast lift results, so waiting until all plans for having children are complete before pursuing mastopexy can help preserve the shape and positioning of the breasts.

Does a Breast Lift Leave Scars?

Some visible scars are to be expected following a breast lift; however, with proper healing, attentive post-surgical care, and time for tissue to mature, scars can fade considerably. The appearance of scars depends upon the breast lift technique used and where the surgical incisions were placed. Prior to surgery, Dr. Leber always discusses the incision patterns he plans to use so patients are well-informed about what to expect. When performing the procedure, Dr. Leber skillfully places incisions so that they are either camouflaged within the darker skin of the areolar border and/or hidden beneath the breast fold. While the vertical incision from the base of the areola to the bottom of the breast cannot be concealed, it is usually well-hidden under a bra or bikini top.

To promote proper healing of the incisions and limit the prominence of scars, it is important for patients to refrain from smoking (or using nicotine of any kind) for a period of time both before and after surgery. Nicotine prevents optimal blood circulation, and thus impedes tissue healing. Caring for incisions—changing dressings, attending follow-up appointments, and keeping incisions out of the sun—is critical for preventing infection (along with taking antibiotics as prescribed) and supporting successful healing.

Can I Breastfeed After a Breast Lift?

As long as you discuss your desires to breastfeed with Dr. Leber, you should be able to retain the ability to nurse after surgery. He can perform the mastopexy procedure while keeping the nipple intact and preserving the nerves, glands, and milk ducts, helping ensure that future breastfeeding is a possibility. However, it’s important to note that not all women are able to successfully breastfeed even before surgery, so this should also be considered when managing breast lift expectations.

While medically possible, Dr. Leber generally recommends postponing your surgery until after all plans for nursing are complete due to the potential cosmetic effects of breastfeeding. Some of the most common body changes caused by pregnancy and nursing include increased laxity and looseness of the skin, as well as a loss of breast shape. To maintain the rejuvenation and “projected” appearance achieved by breast lift surgery as long as possible, it is in the best interest of your results to avoid breastfeeding and pregnancy after your procedure.

Are Non-Surgical Breast Lift Techniques Effective?

While there are claims that certain chest exercises can create the effect of a breast lift, breast ptosis cannot be reversed without the use of surgical techniques. So called “breast lift exercises” merely focus on strengthening the chest muscles deep to the breasts and cannot resolve cosmetic concerns resulting from stretched excess skin and/or depleted breast volume. Fortunately, plastic surgery techniques have perfected the art of restoring the youthful elevation and shape of women’s breasts. For more information about how breast lift surgery rejuvenates the appearance of the breasts, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leber.

Are There Any Breast Lift Alternatives?

In certain cases, the results patients envision may be better achieved with another procedure, such as breast augmentation, breast reduction, or a Mommy Makeover treatment plan. Dr. Leber offers the full range of aesthetic procedures to help ensure patients have a variety of treatment options to achieve their goals. If you have more than one aesthetic concern you would like to improve, a combination treatment plan — such as a Mommy Makeover or a body lift to remove excess skin — can be customized according to your needs, preferences, and desires. These surgical plans are generally most successful for individuals who would like to correct the changes caused by pregnancy or significant weight loss. Dr. Leber will help you learn whether mastopexy or an alternative procedure is ideal for achieving your goals.

How Much Does a Breast Lift Cost?

The average price of a breast lift at our practice is between $10,500 and $12,500. Each breast lift surgical plan is uniquely developed to suit the needs and goals of the patient, which can cause the price of the procedure to fall above or below this average range. For an accurate breast lift price estimate, a personal consultation with Dr. Leber is necessary. During this appointment he can custom-tailor a breast lift plan designed to create the results you desire.

Several factors covered in your surgical plan can affect the cost of a breast lift, including:

  • The breast lift technique used
  • The complexity of the procedure
  • Whether breast implants are placed with the lift
  • Anesthesiology fees
  • Costs for post-surgical garments
  • Any post-surgical medications

You can expect to receive a detailed quote for your surgery expenses at the end of your appointment. At this time you can ask our office team any questions you may have about procedure pricing, payment options we accept, and plastic surgery financing opportunities. If you are interested in finding out how to make the cost of your surgery more budget-friendly, we can educate you about the trusted third-party lenders we partner with. For qualified applicants, these companies offer loans and payment plans that are designed to make surgery more accessible and affordable! Our team is always available to help you at any stage of your plastic surgery journey.

Complements to Breast Lift Surgery

Those who are good candidates for breast lift surgery may also benefit from other cosmetic procedures, especially in cases where patients have undergone pregnancy or significant weight loss. While the best treatment options for you depend on your hopes for the outcome, procedures commonly paired with breast lift surgery may include: 

  • Tummy Tuck: Patients affected by breast sag may also struggle with loose, hanging skin in the abdomen, which can be effectively treated with tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck not only removes excess skin to provide a sleeker abdominal contour, but the procedure can also bring together stretched internal musculature to provide a slimmer waistline. 
  • Lower Body Lift: Those bothered by excess skin in the thighs, buttocks, and hips may consider a lower body lift (also known as a thigh lift) to better define their contours. This treatment plan combines select procedures to achieve a more comprehensive outcome. 
  • Breast Reduction: Breast reduction can be performed at the same time as a breast lift to reshape overly large or pendulous breasts. While a breast reduction generally includes a small “lift” to some extent, adding mastopexy to your treatment plan can be ideal for those with severe ptosis. In general, these procedures can benefit individuals who want to obtain a more manageable breast size while also addressing breast sag. 

Dr. Leber will be able to develop an optimal treatment plan to achieve your goals after discussing your concerns in a consultation. It’s not uncommon to combine a breast lift with other procedures to gain more extensive improvement in your breast and body contours. 

Additional Breast Lift FAQs

Will insurance cover breast lift surgery?

As an optional procedure, it’s unlikely that insurance providers will offer coverage for a breast lift. However, patient financing options from CareCredit® or Prosper® Healthcare Lending are frequently utilized for cosmetic procedures like mastopexy and can help you manage the costs of surgery. The various financing plans presented by each lending company can give qualified patients the chance to pay for their breast lift in smaller installments—often with minimal or zero interest rates. Our office can give you more information about our accepted payment methods or breast lift costs during your consultation.

Will I maintain nipple sensation after a breast lift?

While a breast lift does create a risk of nerve damage to the nipples and areolas after the procedure, many women who have undergone mastopexy experience no changes to their nipple sensation. This possibility depends on which incision was used during surgery, whether implants were placed, and the skill of your plastic surgeon. Needless to say, selecting a board-certified plastic surgeon can maximize your chances of maintaining nipple sensation, and Dr. Leber takes every measure to avoid complications by using techniques that limit damage to the nipple-areolar complexes. Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon for any lost sensation to return in the months following a breast lift procedure once the healing process is complete.

How painful is a breast lift?

While soreness, tenderness, and some discomfort after breast lift surgery is inevitable, the recovery period is typically well-tolerated by patients. Ice packs, as well as over-the-counter and oral pain medications, can help assuage any swelling, bruising, or pain during the healing process. Your body should gradually gain strength as you rest, and most individuals feel well enough to return to their daily routines within one to two weeks.

How can I reduce swelling after a breast lift?

Swelling should naturally resolve after your procedure, but there are many ways that patients can help reduce inflammation. A surgical bra and/or bandages will be provided, and should be worn until Dr. Leber instructs otherwise to promote blood flow. In many cases, eating healthy meals that are rich in protein, antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables can maximize your recovery. Be sure to avoid smoking and alcohol while your body heals, as both can slow down the healing process.

What type of bra should I wear after breast lift surgery?

In general, you should wear the surgical bra/compression garment provided by Dr. Leber for the amount of time prescribed. Afterwards, it’s usually best to wear a bra that can lift and support your breasts as they heal. We often recommend a non-underwire bra with wide, adjustable shoulder straps and a supportive base. A bra should generally be worn for 24 hours a day during the initial healing period.

A breast lift can be a dynamic way to achieve a younger-looking breast appearance. For more information on this procedure, or to schedule a consultation, please contact our practice today.