A breast lift procedure is often desired by women who have seen changes to the breast as the result of having children or breast feeding. Additionally, breasts will often sag as one ages and the tissues that hold up the breasts weaken and stretch. Some young women find that their breasts never achieve proper shape once breast development begins.
Breast shape is largely determined by the strength and position of ligaments that reside within the tissue of the breasts. Known as Cooper’s ligaments, they extend from the collar bone and spread throughout the breasts.
A breast lift procedure is a valuable way of restoring shape and position to the breast. The procedure will often only require an “areolar lift”, or an incision that this hidden inconspicuously around the edge of the areola (the pigmented edge of the nipple region). For patients in need of a significant amount of shaping, a “lollypop” incision is often needed. This has the circular incision of the areolar lift with a vertical incision that goes from the bottom of the circle to the bottom of the breast, giving it an appearance of a lollypop.
The most important element to a breast lift is the technique that is used to shape and hold the tissue. Most breast lift procedures attempt to improve the appearance of the breast by using the skin to hold shape. While these techniques provide good results immediately after the procedure, the improvement in shape is lost over time. Skin stretches too easily. Over months, the skin stretches, scars thicken and widen, and the breasts sag again. To avoid this, the most effective and lasting way to restore and maintain breast shape is to use breast tissue itself to maintain the new position. Dr. Cross uses a patient’s own breast tissue to create an “internal brassier”. The breast tissue, once repositioned, heals in its new position and stays there indefinitely. Additionally, by avoiding tension on the skin during the shaping process, incisions remain thin and fade to be imperceptible. Finally, since skin is not needed for shaping purposes, the incision can be minimized and customized to be only as long as needed to remove the excess that is generated during the lifting of the breast tissue.
Patient shown before and 2 years after a “lollypop” breast lift demonstrating the maintenance of youthfulness in shape and appearance and minimal scarring. *Results May Vary
For some patients, fat grafting is used to help polish the results that are obtained with breast lifting. Fat is gently removed from other areas of the body through incisions smaller than the width of a pinky nail, cleaned and purified, then placed in regions where volume is lacking or where extra volume is needed to maximize the final appearance of the breasts. A significant portion of the fat that is placed becomes living, healthy tissue in the breasts, providing long term added improvement. Understanding a patient’s goals and examining their anatomy helps determine whether fat grafting should be considered in the treatment plan.
Patient showing the result of a breast lift with a small amount of fat grafting to help improve the shape of the upper region of the breast. *Results May Vary
Breast lifts are one of the most well tolerated procedures in plastic surgery. Patients usually do not require a breathing tube for the procedure. They typically receive the same type of anesthesia that one gets for a colonoscopy. The anesthesia is given by vein, patients are not paralyzed and they do not breathe anesthesia gases. Once they are asleep, patients usually have a soft balloon put in their mouth to prevent them from snoring during the case. Patients are completely asleep, so that they do not have to worry about being aware of anything or remembering anything.
Patients wake up wearing a bra that is kept on for 2 days. After 2 days, patients can remove the bra, shower, and wash over their breasts. All sutures are dissolvable and a water tight glue is put on the incisions. Generally, drains are not necessary after a breast lift procedure and patients return to their normal daily activities immediately. Mild to moderate pain may occur for the first few days and soreness can last a couple of weeks. Patients are permitted to start exercising one week after the procedure, with no limitations on any form of activity by 2 weeks.
For patients of the correct age, normal breast screening for cancer is continued after the procedure. Breast lifts are considered safe, even in patients who, through personal or family history, or through screening, have been found to be at higher risk of developing breast cancer, but a more in-depth discussion is provided in these patients before the procedure is performed.
Breast lifts are often performed in combination with a breast augmentation or breast reduction depending on whether or not the breast size needs to be increased or decreased in addition to being lifted.