Breast Lift in Beverly Hills – Mastopexy
Breastlift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts–at least, for a time. (No surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity.) Over the years, factors such as pregnancy, nursing, and the force of gravity take their toll on a woman’s breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. Mastopexy can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume–for example, after pregnancy–breast implants can be inserted in conjunction with mastopexy to increase both their firmness and their size. The amount of scarring involved will depend on what type of lift is performed. This will be determined by the amount of sagging that needs to be corrected.
Good candidates for breast lift
A breast lift can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Kim.
The best candidates for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally-stable women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts.
Many women consider lifting the breasts because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you’re planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift. While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example, mastopexy usually doesn’t interfere with breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk
A breast lift is not a simple operation, but it’s normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following Dr. Kim’s advice both before and after surgery.
Mastopexy does leave noticeable, permanent scars, although they’ll be covered by most bras or bathing suits. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.
In your initial consultation, it’s important to discuss your expectations frankly with Dr. Kim, and to listen to his advice. Every patient—and every physician, as well—has a different view of what is a desirable size and shape for breasts.
Dr. Kim will examine your breasts and discuss the variables that may affect the procedure—such as your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin–and whether an implant is advisable. You should also discuss where the nipple and areola will be positioned; they’ll be moved higher during the procedure, and should be approximately even with the crease beneath your breast.
Dr. Kim will describe the procedure in detail, explaining its risks and limitations and making sure you understand the scarring that will result. He will also explain the anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.
Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Kim any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Preparing for your surgery
Depending on your age and family history, your surgeon may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. You’ll also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.
Where your surgery will be performed
Your breast lift may be performed in a hospital, an outpatient surgery center, or a surgeon’s office-based facility. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. If you’re admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, you can expect to stay one or two days.
Types of anesthesia
Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll sleep through the operation. In selected patients–particularly when a smaller incision is being made–the surgeon may use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort.
Mastopexy usually takes one and a half to three and a half hours. Techniques vary, but the most common procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast.
The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position. The skin surrounding the areola is then brought down and together to reshape the breast. Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downwards from the nipple area, and along the lower crease of the breast.
Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions. One such procedure is the “doughnut (or concentric) mastopexy,” in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped area of skin is removed. This is also known as a circumareolar lift.
If you’re having an implant inserted along with your breast lift, it will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue, or deeper, under the muscle of the chest wall.
After your surgery
After surgery, you’ll wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain shouldn’t be severe. Any discomfort you do feel can be relieved with medications prescribed by Dr. Kim.
Within a few days, the bandages or surgical bra will be replaced by a soft sports bra. You’ll need to wear this bra around the clock for two to three weeks. The stitches in most cases are dissolving.
If your breast skin is very dry following surgery, you can apply a moisturizer several times a day. Be careful not to tug at your skin in the process, and keep the moisturizer away from the suture areas.
You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused by the swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling subsides over the six weeks or so. In some patients, however, it may last a year or more, and occasionally it may be permanent. There is also a possibility of loss of circulation to the areola. This would cause part of all of the nipple areolar complex to become necrotic and leave you with an open would. This is very rare but is more common in smokers or diabetics.
Getting back to normal
Healing is a gradual process. Although you may be up and about in a day or two, don’t plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending on how you feel. And avoid lifting anything over your head for three to four weeks. If you have any unusual symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your surgeon.
Dr. Kim will give you detailed instructions for resuming your normal activities. You may be instructed to avoid sex for a week or more, and to avoid strenuous sports for about a month. After that, you can resume these activities slowly. If you become pregnant, the operation should not affect your ability to breast-feed, since your milk ducts and nipples will be left intact.
Your new look
Dr. Kim will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible. Still, it’s important to remember that mastopexy scars are extensive and permanent. They often remain lumpy and red for months, then gradually become less obvious, sometimes eventually fading to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars can usually be placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops.
You should also keep in mind that a breast lift won’t keep you firm forever–the effects of gravity, pregnancy, aging, and weight fluctuations will eventually take their toll again. Women who have implants along with their breast lift may find the results last longer.
Your satisfaction with a breast lift is likely to be greater if you understand the procedure thoroughly and if your expectations are realistic.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to prepare for your procedure is to be familiar with your options and have realistic expectations that you would like to achieve through this surgery. It is also best to quit smoking and start a healthy diet and exercise routine to produce the best results during recovery.
The effects of the surgery are generally permanent; however, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, or other major life experiences can alter your results and put you back at square one. If you are planning to become pregnant or lose a significant amount of weight, it is best to wait on undergoing this operation.
In this instance, we typically recommend a full breast lift, as it provides for the most amount of excised tissue. Each patient’s condition is unique, however, so the only way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation.
Typically, no, but there are some cases in which a breast lift is medically necessary. Dr. Chiu will go over any of those conditions with you at the time of your consultation to see if you are a candidate.
If you are in good health, close to your ideal weight, and bothered by sagging, deflated, or elongated breasts or downward-pointing nipples, you are probably a good candidate for a breast lift. If you smoke or use tobacco, we will advise you to quit at least three weeks before surgery and remain tobacco-free for at least three weeks after to reduce the risk of complications.
You should also have realistic expectations of how a breast lift can improve your appearance and should choose it for your benefit, not to please someone else.
Many of our patients choose to combine a breast lift with breast augmentation or reduction, procedures that change the size and volume of your breasts. A breast lift, by itself, reshapes and repositions the breasts for a younger look. Breast augmentation, either with implants or fat transfer, adds volume to your breasts and enhances their shape in a different way. Breast reduction reduces the size of your breasts. If you feel that your breasts are sagging and look deflated, having a breast lift with augmentation may be the ideal solution. If you want to correct sagging and bring overly large breasts into better proportion with your body, getting breast lift plus a reduction may be the answer.
Any surgery in the nipple area involves some risk of affecting sensation, but the risk is extremely low, affecting only 5 to 10% of all patients. By choosing a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon like Dr. Chiu, you can minimize this risk.
It’s best to have a breast lift after you are no longer planning to have more children, to ensure long-lasting results. If you do have children after your breast lift, there’s a small risk that the procedure will affect your ability to produce milk. If this is a concern for you, be sure to bring it up in your consultation with Dr. Chiu.