A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a cosmetic procedure to correct breast ptosis, also described as a breast that sags and droops downward. This is a natural process often associated with pregnancy, aging, gravity and weight fluctuations. Dr. Critelli is board-certified in plastic surgery and specializes in breast surgery at UT Health East Texas Cosmetic Surgery Center. He uses techniques that remove and tighten excess skin of the breast so that the breast and nipple project naturally forward and sit higher on the chest wall. This restores a youthful, perky breast appearance, while incisions are positioned to optimize healing and hide scars within natural folds and contours. Augmentation using an implant may also be combined with this surgery according to patient’s aesthetic goals.
About the Surgery
During a breast lift surgery, incisions will be made around the skin-color line of the areola. It may extend vertically, down to the crease of the breast, or extend further to a horizontal incision following the breast crease direction. How extensive the incision will be depends on how much skin must be removed. The excess skin will be trimmed away, and the underlying tissues tightened. The remaining skin will be stretched up and closed with sutures. An implant placed underneath the chest muscle may also supplement the lift as it can provide additional support in keeping the improved projection in place.
Women who contemplate undergoing breast lift surgery often wonder what the incisions will look like and how bad the scarring will be after the procedure. The incisions vary depending on how severe the breast sagging is and how much tissue volume is present. The most common incisions are noted below.
- Incision made around the areola border
- Incision made around the areola, plus a vertical incision down to the natural crease below the breast
- Incision made the around the areola, plus a vertical incision down to the natural crease below the breast, and another horizontal line following the direction of the breast fold.
Breast lift surgery is performed using general anesthesia at UT Health Tyler, an accredited surgery center. On average, the procedure may last up to 2 hours. The recovery will vary as some patients will have had a breast lift in combination with a reduction surgery, or with augmentation using implants. Regardless, patients will be encouraged to move around within the first 48 hours. Activities such as carrying heavy objects or any activity that puts pressure on the chest must be avoided. Most patients can resume normal activities within a couple of weeks, but exercise should not be attempted for 6-8 weeks. Scars are part of the process, but with extra care the marks will heal and fade, and many patients feel they become secondary to a more beautiful breast appearance.
Insurance does not cover breast lift surgery as it is considered cosmetic in nature. There are few exceptions depending on the patient’s special circumstances, so it is best to confirm with the insurance coordinator if any coverage is valid. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Critelli to discuss the expected procedure cost.
Lift or augementation?
It depends on the patient’s aesthetic goals and the current breast form. A breast lift will help correct a sagging, drooping breast. Many times after this surgery, patients are happy with their breast size because the lift alone creates a fuller breast. If the patient wishes to have more volume and increase the breast size, implants will resolve this issue. Before surgery, each patient will have a thorough assessment and consultation with Dr. Critelli. During this appointment, Dr. Critelli will discuss the procedure details and if a lift alone is all that is needed, or if the patient will need a combination surgery with an augmentation as well.
It is common in a breast lift procedure that the nipple is repositioned so that it looks proportional to the newly shaped breast. When excess skin is trimmed away, a portion of an overly stretched areola (the colored skin around the nipple) is simultaneously trimmed away. The goal is for the nipple and areola to be within a normal size and position.
How bad is scarring?
When incisions are made to trim away the skin, scars are an inevitable part of the process. Dr. Critelli is an expert when it comes to minimizing scarring with precise incisions and suturing techniques. He also uses advanced incision site dressings to minimize tension. This along with a post-surgery scar care program will provide optimal healing and scaring.