Breast lift, or mastopexy, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to lift breasts that have sagged due to age, gravity, pregnancies, or loss of tissue elasticity. This is known as breast ptosis. Most often, when the breast is saggy, or ptotic, the nipple position has also sagged and its position is too low on the breast. In extreme cases, the nipple may actually be pointing downward. To achieve a more youthful shape, the skin must be tightened in order to recreate a rounder contour, and the nipple must be lifted to a more central location. (Figures 1 and 2)
Two of the most common methods of performing breast lifts include the Wise Pattern Mastopexy and the Short Scar Mastopexy. From the patient’s perspective, the primary difference between the two types is the configuration of the resulting scars. In the Wise Pattern type of mastopexy, the scar created is in the shape of an anchor, with the scar encircling the areola, extending downward in a vertical fashion, and then going from side to side in the fold under the breast (also called the inframmary fold). (Figure 3)
The Short Scar type of mastopexy minimizes the scar in that there is no side to side inframmary fold component. Instead, the scar is in the configuration of a lollipop, only encircling the areola and extending downward to the bottom of the breast. (Figure 4) For most patients, Dr.Chang prefers the short scar technique, and reserves the Wise Pattern for her patients with the most severe cases of breast ptosis.
A final type of scar, known as a Benelli (or periareolar mastopexy) can be used to perform a lift. The scar in this case is confined only to the areola. (Figure 5) This is obviously appealing to most patients, but unfortunately, the vast majority of women are not candidates for this procedure, as it is effective in only the most minor cases of breast ptosis.
Regardless of the scar type that is used in mastopexy, the principals of the procedure remain the same. The scars are used in order to move the nipple and areola to a more central location on the breast. The nipple and areola are not detached. Instead, the surrounding skin is rearranged around the nipple and areola. Excess skin is also removed, with or without breast tissue, depending upon the woman’s desires, resulting in a firmer, rounder breast shape. Some women may want a breast implant in addition to a mastopexy in order to achieve their ideal desired shape. Your particular aesthetic goals will be carefully reviewed with you during your consultation with Dr. Chang so that the best surgical plan to fit your needs can be formulated.
Dr. Chang performs mastopexies in a full accredited San Francisco hospital with board certified anesthesiologists. Patients can leave the hospital the same day with supervision. Initial recovery takes about a week to a week and a half, and most patients find that it is surprisingly easier than they expected. Dr. Chang recommends that her patients take about a week off work, and mothers should arrange for good child care during that time period. Patients should not exercise or participate in any strenuous activities for about three weeks, after which time there are no restrictions. Dr. Chang will advise you as to the best post-operative regimen for your particular case. The breast shape will be aesthetically pleasing almost immediately. The final shape evolves over three to six months. The scars will continue to improve for six months to a year, at which time they will mature and become soft and light in color.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated. The most common risks associated with mastopexy include loss of sensation of the nipple or breast skin, loss of the ability to breast feed, unfavorable scarring, infection, and bleeding. Anesthetic risks can also occur, but are extremely unusual. Fortunately for mastopexy procedures, any problems are rare, and the vast majority of patients experience a completely trouble free recovery.
Mastopexy is a very effective way to achieve a more youthful breast shape. Women are so happy when they can once again confidently wear bathing suits, tank tops, strapless dresses, and other previously problematic clothing choices. Most patients find that any resulting breast scars heal extremely well, are of minor concern, and are well worth the beautiful outcome and renewed confidence.
This gallery represents only a small selection of photos available for viewing. Additional before/after results are available at the time of your appointment.