Breast implant procedures are the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the United States, with over 279,000 procedures performed in 2015. While implants dominate, another surgical breast procedure is slowly making its presence known. The number of patients opting to undergo mastopexy, also known as the breast lift, increased almost 90 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. As a matter of fact, the breast lift procedure is now the third most popular plastic surgery procedure in the United States.
During the breast lift procedure, a plastic surgeon removes excess the skin of the breast and reshapes the breast tissue in order to lift the breast in a higher, perkier position. The skin of the breast is also tightened to help lift the breast, and the nipple is also placed in a higher, more forward position on the chest wall as well to ensure more natural looking final result. The areola may also be resized during the procedure for a better look.
Women who choose a breast lift often cite several reasons behind their decision. The primary reason for choosing a mastopexy is to reshape the breast after having children. Pregnancy and breastfeeding often leave breasts sagging and misshapen. A breast lift can help reshape the breast into a position that is better for the patient’s frame and desired look.
Another reason women seek out mastopexy is to reshape the breast after losing a large amount of weight. Some patients have excess skin in various parts of the body as a result of their weight loss. This can occur in the breast as breast volume is reduced. The lift procedure can reshape the breast tissue and reduce sagging that occurred as a result of large breasts, but also excises the extra skin that is a byproduct of the patient’s weight loss.
Many women choose to have a breast lift because they are self-conscious of their large breasts. Large breasts may droop and sag over time, and this can look unflattering. Some patients also report back and neck pain associated with their large breasts, along with other physical ailments as a result of large breasts, such as rashes and skin infections. These particular patients may also seek out a reduction mammoplasty, or breast reduction, to remove unwanted breast tissue, in combination with their lift procedure.
Still, other women choose to have the breast lift procedure because of the effects of aging, like sagging and a reduction in skin quality. "Many patients simply want to reverse or put off the signs of aging – not just their faces, but in the rest of their bodies, as well," says Dr. Jack Peterson, M.D. "There are many scenarios in which a breast lift procedure is an optimal choice for a patient looking to update the look of their breasts," says Peterson.
Peterson is a Topeka, Kansas, plastic surgeon performing breast lift procedures, often along with breast reduction and breast augmentation surgeries. "The lift procedure on its own is a great procedure for women who are looking for a more youthful appearance," says Peterson. Peterson also supports combining the mastopexy procedure with reductions and augmentations when a patient wants to achieve a specific look. "The breast lift procedure will not increase the size of the breast or give breasts a fuller, rounder appearance. If a patient is looking for an increase in the size of the breast, they should combine the lift with an implant," he explains. Conversely, a breast lift will not reduce the size of a patient’s breast, cautions Peterson. "Patients looking to reduce and lift their breast should combine their procedure with a breast reduction."
Full recovery from a breast lift procedure takes four to six weeks, and patients should avoid putting pressure on the breasts and heavy lifting after the procedure. Lift procedure patients should seek out well-trained, licensed plastic surgeons, and discuss their options and health history to determine if they are a good candidate for the procedure.