As a woman ages, her breasts will naturally change shape, especially sagging or sinking relative to their original positions. In these cases, her breasts will lose volume, but the size of the skin envelope will remain the same. Plastic surgeons address concerns about breast shape through a type of surgery called a breast lift or mastopexy.
In medical terms, the sagging of the breasts is called ptosis. Ptosis causes the nipple and the areola to drop in relation to the rest of the breast. Several factors contribute to your risk of ptosis, including your age, whether or not you have a history of significant weight loss, your body mass index, your bra cup size, and the number of pregnancies you have had.
How a Breast Lift Works
In a mastopexy, the extent of the incisions needed to complete the surgery depends on the degree of ptosis that you display. A minor case of ptosis will drop your areola to a height just below the inframammary fold, the natural crease underneath your breast where it meets your chest. Severe ptosis can result in the nipple and areola dropping to the very bottom of your breast and pointing downward instead of forward and up. Mild ptosis can often be fixed with a simple incision around the areola. More severe cases require longer incisions that may reach both vertically and horizontally across the surface of your breast.
A well-performed mastopexy will raise and add firmness to your breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to support the new breast contour. The incision lines are permanent*, but in most cases they will fade and improve in appearance over time.
A mastopexy, however, will not significantly change your breast size or add roundness to the upper part of a breast. For this reason, breast lifts are often performed in conjunction with a breast augmentation or fat transfer procedure to address both shape and size simultaneously.*
*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.
Temporary Swelling, Bruising, Some Pain, Bleeding, Infection, Recurrence, Asymmetry, Changes in Nipple Sensation, Healing Problems, Incomplete Improvement
Back to work: 1 week. More strenuous activity: 2-3 weeks
1-2 months for swelling to completely resolve*
Download the "Mastopexy After Surgery Care" guide:Download PDF