A breast lift, technically known as a mastopexy, provides the look of a bra without wearing one. Some women’s breasts start to sag as part of the natural aging process, while others may have lost volume and elasticity from pregnancy, breastfeeding, or weight loss. The nipples may be too low on the breast mound and need to be lifted to a more attractive position at the front of the breast.
A breast lift alone may make the breasts appear slightly smaller, as the skin envelope is tightened around the breast tissue. Women who would also like to be larger may benefit from a breast augmentation at the same time to improve the overall appearance of their breasts.
Why Choose Plastic Surgery Institute of Washington?
Our sophistication, attention to detail, and patient experience is similar to a visit to a luxury spa or resort: private, respectful, and discreet. At our world-class cosmetic practice in North Bethesda, just outside of Washington, DC, we offer:
- Highly skilled, board-certified plastic surgeons who value exceptional quality and individualized patient care
- A fully accredited in-office surgery center with board-certified anesthesiologists
- Hand-picked support staff who are compassionate and committed to providing outstanding patient care
- A single practice that provides all aesthetic solutions with state-of-the-art techniques.
Types of Breast Lift Surgery
A crescent mastopexy is for women with only a very small degree of sagging (also known as ptosis) or for women who have slightly asymmetric nipples and areolas who want this corrected. A crescent of skin is removed from the upper half of the areola from 9:00 to 3:00 to give a slight lift.
Periareolar breast lift surgery is also known as a concentric or “doughnut” mastopexy. With this technique, a ring of skin is removed from around the areola, and the remaining skin is cinched in. While there may be some skin wrinkling around the areola initially, this contour irregularity improves after several months, and the final incision line is limited to the edge of the areola.
A vertical mastopexy allows the nipple to be lifted even further, with an incision around the areola and then extending from the 6:00 position down to the breast crease. Because the vertical dimension of the skin envelope is not shortened in this type of lift, there may be some contour irregularity in the fold, which typically smooths out over the next few months. Alternatively, a limited scar may be required in the fold.
Wise Pattern (Full)
A Wise pattern (Full) mastopexy allows reshaping of the entire skin envelope, allowing for the most lift of the nipple and removal of excess breast skin. The scar is around the areola, vertically from the 6:00 position down to the breast crease, and also in the crease underneath the breasts.
Breast Lift Procedure
Our Washington DC breast lift is performed on an outpatient basis with general anesthesia. The patient is first marked in an upright position before entering the operating room. The skin to be excised is marked, as well as the new lifted location for the nipple and areola complex. If the breasts are asymmetrical, breast tissue may be removed to attain symmetry. This tissue is routinely sent for pathologic evaluation.
Long-acting local anesthesia may be injected as intercostal nerve blocks or around the incisions to minimize postoperative discomfort, which should last at least six to eight hours. At the end of the procedure, the patient is placed in a dressing consisting of gauze padding and ace bandages similar to a tube top.
What Should I Expect During Recovery from Breast Lift Surgery?
For the first 24 hours after surgery, it is normal to have drainage staining the dressing on the outside. You will be seen in the next few days for removal of your dressing and any drains. If non-dissolving sutures are used around the nipple and areola complex, these will be removed at four and eight days after surgery. All the remaining sutures dissolve.
Limitations During Recovery
You will be asked to limit the use of your arms, keeping your elbows by your side, for a period of two weeks from the day of the procedure. After that, you will gradually start resuming your normal level of activity, with the expectation that you will be back to normal at approximately three to four weeks. We recommend that a mammogram not be performed until approximately nine to 12 months after surgery to allow the scar tissue to settle and remodel.
What Are The Breast Lift Risks and Complications?
Risks and complications are uncommon but may occur with a Bethesda breast lift. They include, but are not limited to:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Delayed wound healing
- Loss of the actual nipple (very rare)
- Persistent asymmetry
- Need for revision surgery
- Sensory changes of the overlying skin and nipple (increased, decreased, or lost)
If a breast augmentation is performed with a breast lift, there is also a risk of capsular contracture and implant deflation. It is always advised that these surgeries are performed by a top-rated, respected, experienced plastic surgeon in a fully accredited surgical center or hospital.
What is Capsular Contracture?
Capsular contracture could occur in a breast augmentation performed with a breast lift. The capsule is the scar tissue that normally forms around the implants. If the capsule tightens around the implants, it can cause distortion and/or discomfort. At Plastic Surgery Institute of Washington, we will carefully monitor your progress, and teach you massage techniques to reduce the risk of developing this complication.