What is a breast lift?
Over time with aging, women’s breasts change and lose their contour and shape. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure performed by a plastic surgeon to raise sagging breasts. A surgeon can change the size and contour of the breasts, decrease areola size, and elevate breast mounds to give a more youthful appearance.
A breast lift is performed by removing excess skin, bringing the breast tissue up onto the chest wall and tightening the skin around the breast tissue. Breast lifts themselves do not change the size of the breasts, but can be performed with an implant augmentation or breast reduction.
Breast lifts on average can take between 1-3 hours depending on the extent of the lift and shows immediate results. There are three major techniques when performing breast lifts.
What are the different types of breast lifts?
Depending on the patient’s breast tissue, skin redundancy, the position of the areolas, and the desired outcome of the patient will depend on what type of lift will be appropriate. The first type of breast lift is the peri-areolar, “donut”, or “Benelli” lift which is performed for minimal breast sagging or reducing larger areolar size. The incision site involves a circumferential incision around the areola only allowing negligible tissue removal.
This type of lift is ideal for limited scarring, however, it only provides a suboptimal lift. With a peri-areolar lift, a surgeon can only lift 1-2 centimeters. Unfortunately, due to the tension entirely on the areola, this creates poor peri-areolar scarring creating sunburst scars.
The traditional breast lift or the inverted “T” Weiss pattern is used for severe sagging breasts, with greater than 5.0-centimeter lift needed to bring the nipple centered on the breast mound. It has three major incision sites, one around the areola, one vertically down the breast to the inframammary crease, and the third along the inframammary fold.
The traditional breast lift allows the surgeon to remove a significant amount of excess skin creating a central inferior pedicle in order to bring the breast tissue up for a more dramatic and youthful appearance. This type of breast lift cannot accommodate an implant immediately. When an implant is placed, the implant sits at the inframammary crease, the central interior region of the mound. In order to keep the nipple viable, the pedicle must be reserved without the implant imposing on the blood supply.
If a significant lift is needed and a breast implant is required, then a two-step process can be performed. After the initial breast lift, the patient heals for a minimum of three months and then a second operation can be performed to place the breast implant.
This gives the tissue enough time to heal and provide adequate blood flow to the nipple before placing an implant on the inferior pedicle. One advantage of a traditional breast lift allows for a lift of any degree. A disadvantage is a breast implant if needed, must be placed three months after the breast lift, creating a two-step surgery.
If a moderate lift is needed, less than 5.0 centimeters, a vertical breast lift can be performed. Similar to the traditional breast lift, excess skin is removed and the breast tissue is brought up, but this time creating a central superior pedicle.
The nipple lays on the superior pedicle, which comes from the top, and stays out of the line of an implant. An incision is made around the areola and down the breast vertically to the inframammary crease, occasionally requiring an incision along the inframammary fold. So the question becomes, does the patient require a breast augmentation with an implant or not? This will help the surgeon and patient identify which breast lift style is optimal for them.
In order to determine which breast lift is ideal for you, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Mowlavi, a board-certified plastic surgeon, and founder of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute.
This is a 48-year-old female who was consulted on the different types of breast lifts and is ecstatic with her results after 3 months.