Breast lift surgery, better known as a mastopexy procedure, aims to restore the breasts to a firmer, higher position on the chest wall. Mastopexy procedures remove excess skin in and around the breast which has been stretched due to pregnancy, age or weight fluctuation.
This surgical procedure is a good option for women who are generally happy with their breast proportions and cup size, but aren’t happy with the way their breasts sit on their torso due to breast ptosis.
What is Breast Ptosis?
We medically classify drooping or sagging breasts as ptotic breasts or breast ptosis. In cases of breast ptosis, nipples may begin to droop downward, and surrounding breast tissue may have lost skin elasticity and firmness, causing breast sagging and nipple drooping.
There are varying recognised degrees of ptosis and these will determine the kind of procedure you will require.
The 3 grades of breast ptosis are:
Grade I – Mild
Mild ptosis occurs when the areola is either in front of or slightly over the inframammary crease.
Grade II – Mild to Moderate
Mild to moderate ptosis occurs when the centre of the areola is close to 3cm below the inframammary crease.
Grade III – Severe
Severe ptosis occurs when the areola is more than 3cm below the inframammary crease.
Further, there are different conditions that can cause ptosis, or look similar to ptosis. These include:
Ptosis – the medical term for when the breasts sag far enough that the nipple and areola are out of position relative to the breast crease
Empty Sac Syndrome – the breasts have lost their fullness due to age, genetics or breast feeding. The nipple and areola are also in the incorrect position, similar to ptosis
Pseudoptosis – where the breast is lacking fullness. Your breasts may appear full below the nipples and areola but not above
What Causes Ptosis?
There are a number of reasons that can cause breasts to droop. These include:
- Skin aging
- Weight fluctuations
- Breast feeding
- Genetic or hereditary factors
Breast ptosis is a condition that will affect all women as they age, to varying degrees, depending on a combination of the issues above, as well as overall health.
Breast Lift or Breast Lift with Implants?
Mastopexy is a popular procedure for improving the appearance of breasts that have drooped over time. Generally mastopexy procedures are recommended for women who are happy with the size and shape of their breasts but not with the position. Mastopexy simply firms and lifts the breasts on the chest wall. However, a mastopexy cannot improve lost breast volume.
Mastopexy surgery can:
- Help restore nipples to a more natural position on the breast
- Reposition breasts on chest wall
- Tighten breast skin and tissue
- Resize the areola
However, if you are also unhappy with your breast volume, then it is recommended you consider a breast lift with implants (augmentation mastopexy). As a result, this procedure allows you to fill out the missing breast tissue with a breast implant or fat transfer.
The choice between these surgeries is based on existing breast tissue, skin health and elasticity, and your outcome preference in regards to size, shape, and position. As a result, it is best to discuss the appropriate surgery in your surgical consultation.
There are a variety of techniques recognised for augmentation mastopexy. In Australia, these include:
The Crescent Breast Lift
This is a simple breast lift procedure that corrects only mild ptosis. Your surgeon only removes a small crescent of tissue above the areola before raising the nipple into a higher position. This form of breast lift is rarely performed as women seeking remedies for moderate to sever ptosis are looking for a solution to drooping for the entire breast mound, not just the areola area.
The Benelli Breast Lift
Also known as a “Doughnut Lift” the Benelli breast lift is best used for mild to moderate ptosis. This is generally around Grade I-II on the ptosis scale. The surgeon removes a doughnut shaped piece of tissue from around the areola before reattaching it to the remaining tissue to your areola. However, this procedure can have some higher risks to nipple function or sensation.
The LeJour Lift
Also know as the Lollipop Lift, this is the preferred method of performing the breast lift. It provides more lift than the Benelli, especially for those with moderate ptosis. A specialist plastic surgeon removes a doughnut-shaped piece of tissue, similar to the Benelli lift. However, in addition to this, a straight incision is made down to the breast crease to provide more lift.
Breast Lift Procedure – How is Breast Lift Surgery Performed?
The decision to have surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if breast lift risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Dr Craig Rubinstein only operates in accredited hospitals, using board certified anaesthesiologists to ensure that patient safety, comfort and post-surgical pain-management is always a priority.
Dr Rubinstein highly recommends that you stop smoking at least 4 weeks prior to surgery, as well as refrain from taking any aspirin products up to a week before surgery. Patients will not be able to consume food or drink after midnight on the evening prior to surgery.
The necessary incisions will be made, guided by measurements and markings that were previously meticulously mapped out by your surgeon, to lift and reshape the underlying breast tissue, reposition your nipple and areola and remove any excess skin.
Finally, your surgeon will layer sutures deep within the tissue to support your breasts and close the skin using more sutures.
You must always remember that results vary from patient to patient and maintaining a high level of communication with your specialist plastic surgeon is key to understanding the possible outcomes of your procedure.
Dr Craig Rubinstein will generally recommend you spend 1-2 nights in hospital, allowing you to rest and recover while having access to medical professionals and your surgeon as needed.
Breast Lift Scarring
All surgery leaves scars, including plastic surgery procedures like breast lift. However experienced surgeons like Dr Rubinstein are extremely careful about scar placement and minimisation, with surgical scars generally fading over time.
Dr Rubinstein also conducts follow-up treatments using a Fraxel Laser and Healite II to minimise your scars, with most scars being barely visible after 12 months.
Breast Lift Recovery
After your breast lift surgery you will be given specific post operative instructions to follow. It is important to follow these instructions to aid your recovery and surgical results. You can expect some swelling and scarring but these should reduce over time.
Post-operative swelling, soreness and other associated discomfort may last for about 6 weeks but this can vary from patient to patient. Pain levels will also vary from patient to patient and Dr Rubinstein will work with you to create an individual pain management plan.
Visible bruising should begin to subside within 2 weeks.
When Can I Return to Work After a Breast Lift?
Returning to work can also vary from patient to patient. Many patients can return to work after 1-2 weeks, depending on the kind of work you do. However, you should avoid rigorous activity for at least 3 weeks or more and wait to begin exercising until your surgeon has cleared you to do so. It is also incredibly important to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous work until you are fully recovered as activities like this can affect your pain levels, healing and recovery time.
How Long Will a Breast Lift Last?
The results of a mastopexy procedure vary from patient to patient. When performed by one of Australia’s top plastic surgeons, like Dr Craig Rubinstein, breast lift results can last a long time. However, your results are dependent on a number of factors, such as the effects of having children or weight fluctuations. However, for women who keep a stable weight over time, the results may last for decades.
Breast Lift and Breast Feeding
When performed properly, by fully-qualified surgeons, breast lift results last for a very long time.
It can vary depending on certain factors; for example, having children after your breast lift can influence results due to the many changes your breasts experience in this time, but for women who keep a stable weight, results can certainly last for decades.
Are You a Good Candidate?
While it is best to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon to decide the best method to improve your breast appearance, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to get a general idea about how breast lift surgery can help to improve the shape and position of your breasts:
- Have your breasts drooped significantly after pregnancy or weight loss?
- Are your nipples enlarged or over-stretched from breastfeeding?
- Has having droopy, sagging cleavage or stretched-out looking breast skin caused a significant change in your self-confidence?
- Are your nipples pointing downwards?
- Has age or gravity caused your breasts to sag?
Ideal Candidates for Breast Lift Surgery
- Your breasts have lost their shape and volume, are flatter or elongated shape over time
- When unsupported, your nipples fall below the breast crease or point downwards
- Your breast tissue is stretched and you have enlarged areolas
- One breast is lower than the other
- You have realistic expectations of your outcome
- You are willing to do the pre-surgery preparation and post-op healing protocols (following your Surgeon’s healing recommendations for best Breast Lift Surgery results)
Consulting with a highly experienced, specialist plastic surgeon such as Dr Craig Rubinstein will help you to better understand the right procedure for you to get the results you want, whilst maintaining realistic expectations of your surgery outcome.
Breast Lift Cost
The cost of breast lift can vary based on a number of factors including what you need performed, the surgeon you choose, where you have your operation, etc.
Often sites that post the estimated cost of a breast lift surgery do not include all the related and necessary expenses. As a result, you may end up paying more than you expected. Dr Rubinstein never recommends shopping for low cost surgery as it is unlikely that a FRACS level plastic surgeon will be performing the procedure. It is important to do your research before deciding on a plastic surgeon for your chosen procedure. Further, revision surgery is costly and is not guaranteed to fix the issue you experienced with your initial surgery, if you chose to explore cheaper surgical options.
It is always important to pursue plastic surgery based on skill, not cost.
Breast Lift Before and After Gallery
To view some of Dr Rubinstein’s previous breast lift patients, please click the image below. This will direct you to the breast augmentation before and after gallery.
The Next Steps
- Visit the FAQs pages and patient reviews to learn more about your intended procedure.
How to Book your Initial Consultation
- Email us or call on (03) 8849 1444 to arrange your consultation with Dr Rubinstein
- A referral from your GP or from your specialist is helpful but not essential
What to Bring to your Surgeon Consultation
- You are more than welcome to bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices
- Ensure you also take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents provided
- Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes
ISAPS. December 2018. Breast Lift [online]. Available from: https://www.isaps.org/procedures/breasts/breast-lift/ [accessed 17 December 2018]
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. December 2018. Breast Lift [online] Available from: https://plasticsurgery.org.au/procedures/surgical-procedures/breast-lift/ [accessed 17 December 2018]
ASAPS. December 2018. Breast Lift Surgery [online]. Available from: https://aestheticplasticsurgeons.org.au/your-surgery/breast-surgeries/breast-lift/ [accessed 17 December 2018]
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. December 2018. Breast Lift Mastopexy [online] Available from: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/breast-lift [accessed 17 December 2018]