Mastopexy (Breast Lift Surgery)

What Is Mastopexy?

Mastopexy, also called a breast lift, is an operation where a surgeon repositions your nipple higher on your chest wall. They also remove any excess skin and tighten the surrounding tissue.

If you're considering a surgical breast lift, one way to see if it might help you is to put a pencil under your breast and see if it stays there. If it does, a breast lift might be an option.

You may choose to have this procedure if you are bothered by the appearance or feel of breasts that are droopy, flat, or have an areola that’s gotten larger. These effects can happen because of:

Women usually get this procedure on an outpatient basis, meaning there's no overnight stay. It takes about 3 hours and is usually done under general anesthesia.

Some women also get breast implants at the same time as their breast lift.

Your surgeon should describe your options and explain the procedure in detail.

How to Prepare for Mastopexy

The first step is to consult with a plastic surgeon. When you do, tell the surgeon what your goals are. If you're also getting breast implants, bring photos showing the size and shape of the breasts you'd like.

The surgeon will consider your health and describe your options. The surgeon should also explain the procedure in detail and go over the risks and what the recovery will be like.

Complications after breast lifts are relatively rare. The main three are bleeding, infection, and scarring. Your surgeon will give you instructions for preparing that will help lower your risk of complications. Those instructions will include such things as not smoking, making sure you are off medications that may make bleeding more likely, and taking antibiotics if necessary.

You should also start planning for the recovery period. For instance, you will have to avoid heavy lifting for at least 4 to 6 weeks after your breast lift. If you have young children, you may need to line up help.

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What Happens During a Mastopexy Procedure

You'll get your breast lift in a hospital setting, an outpatient surgery center, or the doctor’s personal operating room. You will meet with the anesthesiologist, surgeon, and nursing staff before the procedure.

The surgeon will mark the proper position where your nipple will go. After that, you'll be brought to the operating room where you'll get general anesthesia or sedation.

The surgeon will remove extra skin and lift your breast tissue up into the proper location. If you're getting implants, the surgeon will insert them and then close and bandage your breasts. You may have tiny drains in your breasts for 24 to 48 hours.

What to Expect During Mastopexy Recovery

Your surgeon will remove the bandages and any drains during your follow-up visit on the first or second day after your breast lift. The doctor will also check the nipple's color and blood supply.

After the operation, expect to be uncomfortable for a few days. Your doctor will usually recommend that you wear a bra or have a special dressing in place to provide the support you will need during your recovery. For the first week, you may need pain medication.

If you've gotten breast implants, be careful to avoid any impact to your chest, which could make the implant rupture.

In 2 to 3 weeks, your surgeon will remove all your stitches. The size and shape of the breast will continue to improve as time passes.

There may be slight differences in symmetry between the two breasts. If so, your plastic surgeon will do a small touch-up procedure to help reposition the nipple as necessary. Minor adjustments can be made later on.

During your recovery, it is very important to limit your activity as directed by your surgeon and to report any side effects or problems you're having right away. Any surgery has risks, including infection. With breast reduction surgery, permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or breast skin is very rare.

Mastopexy Risks and Complications

After you have your breast lift, you may have:

  • Scars. Typically, these will fade over time.
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensation. Usually, this comes back within a couple of weeks, but it can sometimes be permanent.
  • Breasts that are different shapes or sizes. Sometimes, this is because breasts heal at a different pace.
  • Loss of your nipple or areola. This is rare, but can happen if the procedure causes blood loss to the area.

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How Much Does Mastopexy Cost?

Most breast lifts are considered cosmetic surgeries. Health insurance companies usually don't cover them unless they are done as part of a mastectomy reconstruction.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for the procedure is around $4,693. You may also have other costs for:

  • Tests
  • Anesthesia
  • Prescriptions
  • Post-surgical procedures
  • Surgeon fees
  • Hospital costs

Check with your health insurance company in advance so you're clear on what costs you'll need to pay.

How Does Mastopexy Affect Breastfeeding?

You can get a breast lift at any age after your breasts have finished developing. You can also get one before or after you are pregnant. You will still be able to breastfeed after a breast lift.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook for Women Who Have Breast Lift Surgery?

You’ll see results right after your surgery, but it can take a few months for your breasts to settle into their final result.

Breast lift results might not be permanent. It's possible you could need another breast lift. In time, some women choose to get a repeat breast lift as a “touch-up” procedure to improve the overall look of their breasts. But they may not need a full-length procedure.

It may help to retain your results longer by keeping a stable, healthy weight.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 25, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Society of Plastic Surgeons: "Breast Lift Surgery."

Medscape: "Breast Mastopexy."

Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Department of Surgery: “Breast Lift (Mastopexy).”

Mayo Clinic: “Breast Lift.”

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