Mastopexy (aka breast lift) is a surgery that often gets confused for breast augmentation, but it is essential to understand that these two procedures are quite different from each other. Breast augmentation is often referred to as a “boob job” by most people in the general public. However, mastopexy is what is commonly referred to as a “boob lift”. As the name suggests, this is a cosmetic surgery performed by a plastic surgeon which is used to lift the breast in order to reshape it. There are multiple outcomes which one can expect from a mastopexy procedure, which includes:
- Reshaping the breast
- Making the breast look more youthful
- Increases how firm the breast feels
- Reduction of the size of the areola
- To correct uneven breasts
- Improve body figure
- Improve the breast-hip balance
- Increases self-confidence and helps to boost self-esteem
Understand that a “breast lift” is not the same as a breast augmentation procedure. Breast lift is used to raise a breast that has sagged due to aging. This procedure can, however, be done in addition to a breast augmentation procedure.
Before deciding whether you would like to have a mastopexy procedure, it is important to understand the composition or breasts and the procedure.
What is the breast made of?
The breast is made up of multiple different tissues, including blood vessels, glands, milk ducts and nerves which are all surrounded and cushioned by fatty adipose tissue. The fatty adipose tissue is responsible for giving the breast its soft feeling. The tissues that makes up the milk ducts, known as the glandular tissue, is what is primarily responsible for the shape and look of the breast. The underlying muscles do not contribute the shape but help to support the breast tissue.
The breast is covered by skin, which is made up of different fibres called collagen and elastin. Collagen is found everywhere in the body and is a protein that that helps to sustain the structure of the body. Elastin is what give skin and other body structures the ability to stretch and recoil. These two structures are affected by the process of ageing.
As we age, these fibres become weaker and degrade and the fatty tissue under the skin decreases. This causes the tissue in the breast to droop down and loose its firmness. Additionally, gravity, pregnancy and breastfeeding all contribute to developing “saggy breasts”.
Who is eligible to have mastopexy?
Because any cosmetic surgery, but especially breast related procedures is a very intimate and personal procedure for the person wishing to have it, it is important to make the decision for yourself whether you would like the procedure. Having said this, there are some patients who may NOT qualify to receive a breast augmentation procedure, for one or other reasons. The following would make one a good candidate for breast augmentation:
- Being physical fit and healthy to undergo surgery
- Having completed your family i.e. not planning any future pregnancies because pregnancy and breastfeeding can negate the changes that were made by the surgery
- If there is dissatisfaction with the shape, size or proportionality of the breasts
- If one is dissatisfied with how the breasts look
Before having the surgery, it is imperative to have a conversation with your surgeon regarding all your medical conditions and relevant medical history because certain health conditions may affect the type of option or implant you may decide to use.
Details of the breast lift procedure
After speaking to your surgeon about the concerns you have regarding your breasts and where you would like changes to be made, the surgeon will decide how best to achieve the result you are looking for. Once this has been decided, you will be given anesthetics for the procedure to ensure that you are comfortable and do not feel pain. This will typically be general anesthetic (where the person is completely asleep and unaware).
The decision of where the incisions are made is dependent on your surgeon and the technique they were taught and are comfortable with. The places where you can except incision sites may include one of the following:
- Around the areolae
- From the areolae to the breast creases, extending downwards
- Horizontally along the breast creases
Stitches are placed deep in the breast in order to lift and reshape the breast to the desired position. Additionally, excess fat, skin and other tissue that is not necessary is removed. The nipples are shifted and resized if necessary. The ends of the incisions are brought back together and closed. It can either be closed using non-absorbable sutures, staples, surgical tape or skin adhesives. It is important to note that mastopexy usually leaves a visible scar. On some occasions, a drain may be placed under the skin where the operation was performed in order to drain any excess blood and other fluids from building up under the skin.
Once this is all done, the face and incisions are covered with sterile bandages and a support bra is worn to keep the breasts in the new position. A boob lift will typically take between 2 to 3 hours long. It is possible to go home on the same day provided that it was not a difficult procedure and that there were no complications, however, most people will generally be kept overnight for pain control and monitoring.
After the breast lift surgery
It is expected to feel pain following mastopexy but your surgeon will prescribe medication for you to combat any pain that you may experience. Like most surgeries, there will be some degree of bruising and swelling. The bruising and swelling of the breast can be expected to last for up to 2 weeks. It is important to understand that a mastopexy procedure is not permanent, and eventually, over time, the breast will again be affected by gravity with the loss of shape and firmness.
For the first few days following your boob lift, it is advisable to do the following:
- Use cold compresses to minimize the swelling
- Sleep on your back or side in order to keep pressure off the breasts
- Take pain medication as prescribed by your surgeon
- Avoid exposing the incisions to pressure
- Limit sexual activity to 2 weeks after the surgery
- Do not wear tight clothing or bras for at least 2 weeks after the surgery
Your surgeon will give you instructions regarding the continuation of daily activities, such as bathing, washing your body and other physical activities.
You will return to your surgeon a few days following the surgery. This is in order to remove the drainage tube and to assess the incisions and rebandage the incision site. The stitched/staples only get removed after approximately a week after the surgery. Your surgeon will carefully check if the incision has healed adequately.