Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
Many women seeking cosmetic breast surgery are not doing this in order to acquire larger breasts but are simply seeking to reverse some of the changes that come with time and the effects of pregnancy. These two factors are responsible for much, if not all, of the loss of firmness, volume, and "perkiness" of youthful breasts. Weight loss can also result in undesirable sagging of the breasts. In these cases, there is loss of elasticity of the skin, either due to the aging process, or due to the stretching of the breast skin from engorgement that accompanies pregnancy and milk production in the breast tissues.
Loss of volume can only be recovered by replacing the breast tissue with an implant. However, some women prefer to go with what they have and just want the sagging corrected. This is where a breast lift, or mastopexy, can help turn back the clock a bit. In this procedure, markings are carefully made to outline the excessive skin to be removed and reshape the breast into a more youthful contour. Skin is then removed, leaving all the breast tissue to fill out the remaining skin as much as possible.
Mastopexy is an outpatient procedure that can be done under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, or with general anesthesia. Recovery time is rapid with most patients able to return to routine daily activities within a couple of days. The incisions vary with the amount of lifting necessary. In cases with minor sagging, a lift can be done using an incision located around the areola, the darker skin which surrounds the nipple. This incision leaves a fine scar which is well hidden in the margin of the areola and very inconspicuous. More extensive lifts may require additional incisions; down the middle of the lower half of the breast, and along the crease under the breast. These typically heal with fine, faint scars and the improvement in the overall contour and appearance of the breasts is usually well worth the tradeoff.
Sensitivity should be well preserved after a breast lift although any breast procedure can affect the feeling in the skin and nipple area. It should also be possible to breast feed after a lift in most cases. Future pregnancies can certainly affect the result and produce more sagging later. Lifts should not affect the ability to do a good breast self-examination or mammogram.
When additional volume is desired, a lift can be combined with a breast augmentation using implants. These can be either saline implants or gel implants. The procedure of doing a breast augmentation combined with a lift is a bit trickier than either alone because they are working at cross purposes; the augmentation attempts to expand the breasts while the lift attempts to constrict them. Compromises have to be made, either in the lift or the augmentation in order to achieve the best result for each patient.
Like many other procedures, breast lifts can be combined with other procedures such as an abdominoplasty or liposuction. One advantage of combinations is that recuperation is usually not prolonged over doing each procedure separately. Another is that the overall cost may be less than doing each separately since some of the separate expenses may be combined too.
Every effort is made in a breast lift, with or without implants, to produce a result which will look and feel as natural as possible, and equally as important, as youthful as possible. Even if we can't stop time, perhaps we can recapture some of the youthful look that time and circumstances have taken away.