Overview of Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

True Breast Droop Vs. Pseudo Breast Droop

Believe it or not, not every woman who thinks she has breast droop really does. This is because true breast droop (in which the nipple sags to or below the breast crease) can be mistaken for pseudo (fake) breast droop in which the nipple remains above the breast crease, but the skin sags below the crease.

If you have true breast droop, you can determine its extent: Look in the mirror, and carefully inspect your breasts. If your nipples have drooped to the level of the crease beneath your breast, then you have mild breast droop (also known as Grade I ptosis). If they have drooped below this line, then you have moderate droop (also known as grade II ptosis). If they are pointing toward your shoes, then you have severe breast droop (also known as grade III ptosis).

Some women would prefer to have breast implants (rather than a breast lift) to fix their saggy breasts. This will work for most cases of pseudo breast droop, but in cases of true breast droop, implants alone will not raise your nipples. Simply put, if your nipples and breasts are sagging and you want them lifted, then you need to have a breast lift also known as mastopexy to accomplish this. However, this does not necessarily mean that you must have a breast lift when droop is present. The two main times when breast implants alone are adequate are when the breast droop is pseudo or when true droop is mild, provided that the woman is willing to accept ongoing mild droop. This is explained in even greater detail in the Aug/No Lift page of this website – see expanding menu.

Breast Lift Scars and Incisions

Breast lift scars are the greatest drawback to the surgery. They will be around the nipple, and may also extend from the nipple down to the crease, and along the breast crease. The extent of scars is often related to the degree of droop: the greater the droop, the more extensive the breast lift scars are. Any woman considering a mastopexy must realize that she is exchanging one cosmetic breast problem (saggy breasts) for another cosmetic breast problem (scars). In general, women with mild sagging breasts do not find this exchange worthwhile. Women with moderate or severely saggy breasts do find this exchange worthwhile. This remains a personal decision. Another thing to consider is that most scars fade over time and often become more difficult to see.

Breast Lift: Preparation and Recovery

Anesthesia: General or sedation.

Location of operation: Office or hospital.

Length of surgery: 1-2 hours (3-4 hours if performed with augmentation).

Length of stay: Outpatient (home same day).

Discomfort: Mild to moderate. Anticipate 2-5 days of prescription pain medication.

Swelling and Bruising: Improves in 3-10 days. Often there is minimal bruising.

Bandages: Will be removed in 1-3 days.

Stitches: Will be removed in 5-7 days (if there are any to be removed). Often, plastic surgeons use absorbable sutures.

Support: You will wear a sports bra or ace wrap for 1-4 weeks. Avoid an under wire bra until your plastic surgeon approves it.

Back to work: 3-7 days.

Exercise: May be resumed in 2 weeks.

Final result: Will be seen after the scars have matured, which will be about six months.

Breast Lift Tips and Traps

  • Realize that this breast surgery involves the exchange of one cosmetic problem (droop) for another (scars). If you are unwilling to accept scars, you should not have this operation, as no plastic surgeon can predict how the scars will heal on you.
  • As a general rule, the more extensive your droop, the more extensive will be your scars.
  • Wait until you are done having children before considering breast lift: future pregnancy may otherwise leave you with droopy breasts again.
  • Quit smoking for at least 2-4 weeks before surgery to reduce your risk of healing problems.
  • If you have very large breasts, you are probably not an ideal candidate for breast lift, as recurrent droop can be expected for large breasts. The larger your breasts, the more droop you can expect, and the sooner you can expect it. Small breasts will tend to droop minimally, if at all.
  • See more breast lift tips and traps in the TIPS Menu on this website.