Loss of skin elasticity, gravity and other factors such as weight loss, pregnancy and breast-feeding ultimately affect the shape and firmness of your breasts. Patients who are generally satisfied with the size of their breasts can have a breast lift to raise and firm them, resulting in a more youthful breast contour. Some patients may be unhappy that they have lost a significant amount of breast volume over time. In such cases, implants inserted in conjunction with a breast lift can increase breast size at the same time as the shape and position of the breasts are enhanced.
Am I a good candidate for a breast lift?
Sometimes these conditions may be inherited traits. In certain cases, the breasts may have developed differently so that one breast is firm and well positioned while the other is not. There may be differences in the size of your breasts as well as their shape. Breasts that are large and heavy can be lifted, but the results may not be as long-lasting as when the procedure is done on smaller breasts.
Breast lift surgery can be performed at any age, but plastic surgeons usually recommend waiting until breast development has stopped. Pregnancy and breast-feeding may have significant and unpredictable effects on the size and shape of your breasts. Nevertheless, many women decide to undergo breast lift surgery before having children and feel that they can address any subsequent changes later. Since the milk ducts and nipples are left intact, breast lift surgery usually will not affect your ability to breast-feed; however, you should discuss this with your plastic surgeon.
Your Personal Consultation
How will my plastic surgeon evaluate me for breast lift surgery?
Your plastic surgeon will examine your breasts, taking measurements and perhaps photographs for your medical record. The size and shape of your breasts, the quality of your skin, and the placement of the nipples and areolas will be carefully evaluated.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history. This will include information about any medical conditions, drug allergies, medical treatments you have received, previous surgeries including breast biopsies, and medications that you currently take. It is important for you to provide complete information.
You should tell your plastic surgeon if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, particularly if you have noticed that your breasts sag or become smaller with weight loss. Your surgeon may recommend that you stabilize your weight before having surgery.
Will my insurance help cover the cost of surgery?
Under certain circumstances, however, insurance coverage may be available. For example, if a breast reconstruction after mastectomy is performed, the opposite breast may need to be modified for symmetry. Many factors determine your eligibility for coverage, including the specific terms of your insurance policy. A letter of predetermination may be required by your insurance company prior to surgery. Your plastic surgeon or a staff member in your surgeon's office will discuss these matters with you.
How a Breast Lift Is Performed
Where are the incisions placed?
After the plastic surgeon has removed excess breast skin, the nipple and areola are shifted to a higher position. The areola, which in a sagging large breast may have been stretched, can be reduced in size. Skin that was formerly located above the areola is brought down and together beneath it to reshape the breast.
The nipples and areolas remain attached to underlying mounds of tissue, and this usually allows for the preservation of sensation and the ability to breast-feed.
What are some variations to the common breast lifting technique?
In some instances, it may be possible to avoid the horizontal incision beneath the breast. Sometimes a technique may be used that avoids this horizontal incision as well as the vertical incision that runs from the bottom edge of the areola to the breast crease.
If you are a good candidate for a modified technique, your plastic surgeon will discuss this with you.
If you and your plastic surgeon have decided that it is desirable to enlarge your breasts at the same time as they are lifted, this will require insertion of breast implants. If this is an option that you wish to consider, your surgeon will review the necessary information with you and may provide you with a brochure on breast augmentation.
I understand that every surgical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision?
The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office.
Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Following a breast lift, sometimes the breasts may not be perfectly symmetrical or the nipple height may vary slightly. Minor adjustments often can be made at a later time. Permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or areas of breast skin may occur rarely. Revisionary surgery may sometimes be helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly.
You can help to lessen certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your plastic surgeon, both before and after surgery.