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What is a breast lift?

A woman’s breasts change over time due to many factors, including pregnancy and breastfeeding, weight fluctuation, genetic factors and the natural aging process. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a procedure that raises the breasts by tightening the surrounding tissue and removing excess skin, creating a lifted, more youthful appearance.

Breast lift surgery does not change the size of your breasts. Instead, it fills out your existing breasts for a fuller appearance. Breast lift surgery can be performed in conjunction with breast augmentation if you also desire larger breasts.

Good candidates for this surgery include women who:

  • Have sagging breasts or breasts that have lost volume
  • Have flat, elongated breasts
  • Have nipples that point downward
  • Have asymmetrical breasts
  • Are finished having children

What to expect

During a thorough consultation, your physician will perform a physical exam, take a full medical history, ask about medications you may be taking and any conditions you currently have, take photographs, and discuss your expectations for the surgery. In addition, you may ask your physician any questions and discuss concerns you may have about breast lift at this time. Together, you will develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs and desires.

There are three different incision patterns used in breast lift surgery. Each focuses on minimal scaring and optimal lift. They include:

  • Around the areola
  • Around the areola and down the breast to the breast crease
  • Around the areola, vertically down to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease.

Under general anesthesia, an incision is made and the breast tissue is lifted and reshaped to improve contour and firmness. The nipple is repositioned to a location more appropriate for the new shape of the breast. Excess skin is removed if necessary.


Complications from breast lift surgery are minimal and include those associated with any surgery, such as infection, excessive bleeding and anesthesia risks. In addition, risks for breast lift surgery include:

  • Breast asymmetry
  • Contour and shape irregularities
  • Deep tissue scarring
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Temporary or permanent changes in breast or nipple sensation
  • Potential inability to breastfeed


Immediately following your breast lift surgery, you will be taken into a recovery area for close monitoring. Your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings and a support bra to minimize swelling and support the breasts during the healing process. You will need to wear this garment as instructed by your physician.

You will be prescribed pain medication and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Before being discharged from the hospital, you will be given postoperative instructions by your surgeon. It’s very important that you follow these instructions carefully to avoid complications.

While everyone’s recovery is different, you can expect to wear the supportive garment for three to four weeks. You will need to take it easy until your surgeon tells you it’s OK to resume normal activity, usually after four to six weeks.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between breast lift and breast augmentation and how will I know which one I need?

Breast lift is ideal for someone who has appropriate volume, but sagging breasts. Breast augmentation increases volume. Many people have both at the same time. This is evaluated by the plastic surgeon at the time of consultation.

Will I have scarring?

There are different types of breast lift and each causes different scarring. The type of lift used is dependent on each woman’s body and the desired aesthetic. Your surgeon will always aim to cause the least amount of scarring while achieving the desired results.

How long will the results last?

When you have a breast lift, you are resetting the clock. Providing you maintain your weight and wear a bra, your lift should last a while. But time will age the lifted breasts as well.

Can I breastfeed after a breast lift?

Having a breast lift usually does not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed.

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