Breast ptosis, the medical term for breast droop, is a very common problem in women who have experienced significant weight fluctuations, breastfed children or lost elasticity of their breast tissue due to aging.
If you are dissatisfied or embarrassed with the way your breasts look, don’t be alarmed. A breast lift (mastopexy) is what you need. The procedure can help restore your breasts to a more youthful position on the chest wall and also move the nipples to a more central position on the breast.
The Best Candidates for Breast Lift
While it is true that a mastopexy can improve your body image and self-confidence, it is also true that the procedure may not change your looks to match your ideal or resolve any of life’s major problems. Therefore, before you start, you’ll need to evaluate your expectations then discuss them with your surgeon.
So, who is the best candidate for mastopexy? The best candidates for the procedure are women who have adequate breast size and possess realistic expectations of what the procedure can accomplish. Other qualities that make a patient an ideal candidate include:
• The patient does not smoke
• Nipples and areolas that point downward
• The patient is free of health problems and maintains a stable weight
• Saggy breasts that have lost shape and volume
Points to note:
• The results of the procedure may not last long in heavy breasts.
• A breast lift may not be best for women planning to have more children – pregnancy may stretch your breast and may thus interfere with the results of the procedure.
• Mastopexy is an individualized procedure and thus should not be done to fit any sort of ideal image or fulfill other people’s desires.
Risks and Complications of Mastopexy
Here is a list of the risks associated with mastopexy:
• Fluid accumulation
• Changes in nipple or breast sensation
• Possibility of revisional surgery
• Asymmetry or irregularities in the shape and size of the breasts
As with any surgical procedure, these risks are present, but in experienced hands, the rate at which they occur is significantly reduced. Therefore, selecting a competent surgeon and closely following his advice, both before and after surgery, can reduce these risks.
Planning Your Surgery
Preparing for Your Surgery
Dr. Leonard may require you to have a mammogram before surgery depending on different factors such as your family history and age. He will give you specific information and instructions on how to prepare for the surgery, as well as what to eat or drink.
Note: It is particularly important that you follow the pre-surgery directions and diet for your surgery to go smoothly. Additionally, you will need to make travel arrangements for getting to and from the surgery center, and think about what to carry with you.
Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed
Types of Anesthesia
Medications are administered to ensure you are comfortable during the surgical procedure. Dr. Leonard uses general anesthesia depending on the degree of breast lifting you need. Usually, Dr. Leonard administers general anesthesia for most breast lift surgeries.
The surgery usually takes about two hours depending on the extent of the surgery. Techniques vary, but Dr. Leonard can help you determine an ideal type of breast lift – one that will provide the best results. Some of the factors he considers in determining the best breast lift technique include the overall breast size, the degree of sagging and the amount of excess skin that needs to be removed.
Here are the breast lift surgeries that Dr. Leonard performs:
1. Crescent Lift
The crescent mastopexy is less invasive and is suitable for women who have slightly sagging breasts. It also works great for women who have breastfed as well as those with mild asymmetry issues.
The breast lift surgery involves making an incision in the breast skin and removing breast tissue directly above the areola.
2. Anchor Lift
Anchor breast lift is also known as traditional mastopexy or Wise pattern lift. It is reserved for women with large or significantly saggy breasts.
The technique uses three incisions: the first incision is made around the border of the nipple, the next vertical incision is made from the nipple to the fold under the breast, and the final crescent incision is made along the breast fold. These three incisions make it possible for the surgeon to remove larger amounts of excess skin and tissue.
3. Vertical Lift
Also known as a lollipop lift, the vertical technique uses two incisions of the anchor lift (the incision made around the nipple border and the vertical incision). The unwanted tissue is then removed from both sides of the vertical incision.
Candidates for this procedure are women with large breasts that sag due to skin laxity.
4. Periareolar Lift
Periareolar mastopexy, commonly known as circumareolar or donut lift, utilizes a single incision around the border of the nipple. This lift is an excellent option for candidates with a relatively light degree of sagging or slight nipple asymmetry. In this procedure, a doughnut-shaped incision is made around the areola to remove unwanted tissue.
After the excess skin tissue is removed and your breast reshaped, the skin is tightened, and the incisions are closed with surgical adhesives or sutures.
After your Surgery
After the procedure, your breast will be covered with gauze dressings or an elastic bandage. You will have to put on a surgical bra to stay as comfortable as possible. Small tubes may be placed at the incision sites to drain any excess fluid or blood.
The breasts will be swollen for about two weeks. You will also feel pain and soreness around the breast incisions. To relieve the pain, take the medication prescribed by Dr. Leonard.
The surgical drains placed near the incisions are removed within a few days. During this time, Dr. Leonard will replace the bandages and surgical bra with a soft support bra. You have to wear this bra around the clock for about three to four weeks.
Your breast skin and nipples might lose sensation completely or partially after the breast lift surgery. The numbness normally fades after six weeks, but it may last for more than a year or become permanent in some patients.
Getting Back to Normal
You will get the best results if you allow your body to heal. It is therefore important to stop performing any strenuous activity for sometime after your surgery.
While the recovery time varies from one patient to another, it is recommended that you avoid lifting heavy items and high impact activities like jogging or jumping for about six weeks. Additionally, avoid smoking tobacco for at least two weeks after your procedure. This is because cigarette smoking may cause poor scar healing or increase the incidence of infection.
During recovery, Dr. Leonard will give you the specific guidelines on how to safely go back to your daily activities.
Your New Look
Satisfaction with your new look should continue to grow as you recover from the procedure. The final results of the surgery will be noticeable over a few months as the shape and position of the breast continue to settle.
However, keep in mind that the results of your mastopexy will not be permanent. Over time, the shape of your breast may change due to gravity, aging, and pregnancy.