Breast Uplift (Mastopexy) Surgery Cost & Procedure Guide
Written by Medical Quality Manager, Clare Vogt , BN (Hons)
Medical Review by Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Asmat Din , MA, MB BS, MRCS, FRCS (Plast)
A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy or “breast uplift” is a surgical procedure that raises and reshapes breasts and nipples to achieve a firmer, perkier, and more youthful appearance
1.5 to 3 hours
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
6 - 12 months
Breast Lift Surgery Overview
Breast lift procedures are popular among those who are happy with the overall size of their breasts but are unhappy with their shape or firmness as a result of genetics, age, or factors like breastfeeding. A breast lift can also be combined with breast enlargement to add volume and shape.
What can Breast Lift Surgery Achieve?
Sagging or drooping breasts can develop after breastfeeding, ageing, weight loss, pregnancy, or because of a genetic predisposition towards a breast shape where the nipples point downward or sit at a position below the crease where the breast meets the torso.
This drooping or sagging is caused by stretching of the skin and ligaments of the breast. This, in turn, provides less support to the underlying breast tissue and allows the breast to sit lower on the chest. This gives the breasts a shape that some find less aesthetically pleasing than traditionally 'perky' breasts.
Breast lift surgery removes a portion of skin on the breasts, repositions the nipples higher on the breast, raises the breast tissue on the chest wall, and potentially resize the areolae. Removing this excess skin creates breasts that are more firm and youthful in appearance. During a breast lift, the surgeon can also address any breast asymmetry especially with regard to how the nipples are positioned. This lifting of the breasts can make clothes more comfortable and provide a great boost to body confidence and self-esteem.
Breast uplift surgery does not significantly alter the size of the breasts. In some cases, the surgeon may suggest combining the uplift with breast enlargement in order to add fullness to the breasts.
Patients should aim to be at their target weight for at least three months prior to surgery. This is because major weight changes can affect the results of your breast lift. For example, weight loss may lead to a recurrence in the appearance of slightly empty and droopier breasts.
Patients should also aim to complete having their family before having the breast uplift surgery. While every patient reacts differently to surgery, there is a chance the breast lift could impact the ability to breastfeed because it involves incisions made on the breast and the nipple in particular. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also affect the results of a breast lift and cause sagging post-surgery.
A breast uplift aims to:
- Remove excess skin
- Reshape breast tissue to enhance its contour
- Reposition the nipples and areolas
- Potentially reshape or reduce the size of the areolas
Breast lift surgery will not significantly change the size of the breasts.
Surgeons may suggest combining a breast uplift with breast enlargement in order to achieve the results patients want. Breast implants are sometimes needed to ensure the upper portion of the breast is full and proportionate to the new shape of the breasts because a breast lift alone will not provide any extra volume. Find out more information about breast enlargement surgery here.
How much does breast lift surgery cost?
The price of breast uplift surgery can vary between £4000 to £7000. On average, you can expect to pay around £5500 for the breast uplift in the UK. There are various factors that could contribute to price fluctuations, such as
- Surgeon experience
- Chosen hospital
- Anaesthetist expertise
- The complexity of the procedure for an individual's case
- Amount of hours required in surgery for each patient
- Additional combined procedure requirements, for example, the addition of an enlargement
In order to get a tailored price adapted to each personal case, patients will need to be examined by a surgeon in consultation to ensure that the procedure can be done considering their individual needs. A patient's personalised price will be all-inclusive and take into account all of the patient's needs; the tailored breast uplift price will cover:
- Highly rated CQC hospital cost
- Surgeon's experience (BAAPS/BAPRAS)
- Anaesthetist time and expertise
- Any overnight stays that are required
- Follow-up appointments and aftercare
Consultations, like all plastic surgery consultations, are free with no obligation. A breast uplift consultation will allow patients to ask all their questions, get to know the surgeon better and for the surgeon to be able to assess them and make the patient aware of the possible outcomes of their breast lift surgery.
Candidates and Medical Conditions
Who is an Ideal Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?
Breast lift surgery is frequently wanted in order to improve the shape and look of the breasts. While breast lift surgery is a good option for many patients, some conditions or habits can make surgery a more or less viable option.
Generally, the most suitable candidates for breast lift surgery include patients who are:
- Over 18 years old
- Realistic about their expectations for surgery
- Physically healthy
- Not pregnant or nursing
- Emotionally prepared for surgery
- Unhappy with the appearance of their breasts
- Stable weight for three months with a BMI of <30
- Non-smokers or have not smoked or used nicotine for a minimum of six weeks before surgery
Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing alcohol intake, stopping any recreational drug use, and most importantly, stopping smoking are all important ways you can increase your likelihood to have surgery.
Reducing alcohol intake and stopping drug use and smoking are specifically important before surgery. All three of these factors can impact your health, the speed at which you heal, and even interact with medications used during surgery which could leave you with unsatisfactory results and even put your health at risk.
It is highly recommended that patients stop smoking before having breast lift surgery. When individuals smoke, blood flow throughout the body is reduced. Reduced blood flow slows healing times which puts patients at a much higher risk of infection after surgery. The reduced blood flow associated with smoking also puts patients at greater risk of complications like necrosis (tissue death) which are caused by lack of blood flow. Delicate areas like the nipples or areolas are especially at risk of complications like necrosis. If necrosis or other complications do develop, patients can be left with unsatisfactory or potentially disfiguring results. To ensure patients have the best results possible from the breast lift surgery, it is important that patients follow their surgeon's guidance and avoid smoking before surgery.
Why have a Breast Lift?
Sagging or drooping of the breasts occurs when the skin and ligaments of the breast are stretched. This stretching provides less support to the breast tissue and causes them to sit lower than they may have previously. This can occur as a result of pregnancy, breastfeeding, significant weight changes, ageing, gravity, or genetic predisposition.
A breast uplift can reverse these effects by:
- Lifting the breasts
- Giving the breasts a firmer and more youthful look
- Increasing body confidence and self-esteem
Ideally, patients should reach their target weight and have completed having their family before having surgery. This is because significant weight changes, pregnancy, and breastfeeding can all affect the results of the breast lift by altering the size of the breasts.
When pregnant, the body goes through physical and hormonal changes in preparation for birth and breastfeeding. Oestrogen levels increase during pregnancy, causing breast size to grow; many patients say that their breasts are about 1 cup size bigger. This is not the only change for the breasts, they will often feel more tender, and the areolas and nipples will often become darker and become larger.
After giving birth, further hormonal changes, including oxytocin and prolactin, will increase milk production, making the breasts feel engorged. When patients stop producing milk, the breasts become smaller and less engorged. The skin only has a certain amount of elasticity, and so it’s common for the new shape and position of the breasts to be droopy and feel deflated. The position of the nipples will also be affected and more likely to droop.
How is Breast Lift Surgery Performed?
Breast lift surgery takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to perform. Patients are advised to follow the instructions given to them by the surgeon in relation to drinking, eating, and medication use in the days before surgery.
Generally, breast lift surgery involves the following steps:
Before a surgeon can operate on a patient, they need to sign a consent form. Patients can sign this form either on the day of surgery after arriving at the hospital or during the pre-operative assessment about a week before the surgery date.
When patients arrive at the hospital, they will meet the anaesthetist and surgeon. Then the surgeon will draw guide marks on the breasts and explain one last time the exact goals of the procedure.
The anaesthetist will then administer either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation. The anaesthetic they use will depend on what has been agreed upon with the BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon during the consultation.
When the surgery begins, the surgeon will clean the skin then place a surgical drape over the body to ensure the chest remains sterile during the procedure.
They will then make the incisions to begin the breast lift.
The surgeon has a variety of different incisions to choose from when performing breast lift surgery. They all potentially affect breast sensation and breastfeeding to varying degrees. Each incision will produce a scar on the breast, but the majority are located close to the areola and underside of the breast and will fade over time to become less noticeable.
The surgeon will discuss which type of incision method is best for before the surgery. As they make this decision, they will take into account breast size, breast shape, areola size, areola position, degree of breast sagging, and the quality and quantity of skin and tissue.
The different types of breast uplift incisions include:
If there is mild breast sagging, surgeons may use a circumareolar incision for the breast uplift surgery. This technique is not commonly used as it allows for a relatively small amount of lift.
A surgeon may use an inverted-T incision to correct a significant amount of breast sagging. They will use this technique for large breasts, sometimes in combination with a breast reduction. This is the most common type of incision.
Closing of Incisions
After reshaping and lifting the breast tissue, The surgeon will then close the incision they have made and apply surgical wound dressings over the breasts. All sutures used to close the wounds are absorbable (so they do not need to be removed).
They may also put surgical drains in below the skin of the breasts. These drains help reduce swelling and bruising. These will be removed before the patient goes home.
Return to the ward
Once bandaged, patients will return to the ward to recover from the anaesthetic. It is likely patients will be able to return home the same day or the following day.
Patients will immediately be able to see a change in breast shape after surgery. However, it may take six to twelve months before patients can appreciate the full cosmetic result of the breast uplift procedure as all the swelling subsides and the scars begin to heal and fade.
What to expect from the consultation for breast lift surgery?
The breast uplift consultation will last between 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Remember, the consultation is the perfect time to be open and honest with the surgeon about expectations, concerns and medical history.
The surgeon will likely discuss the topics mentioned below during the consultation:
- Reasons for wanting the breast lift
- Expectations from the surgery
- Any family or personal history of breast cancer
- Current or past medical conditions and allergies
- Past or current surgical procedures
- Any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements being taken
- Results of any biopsies or mammograms
- Any tobacco, alcohol, or recreational drug use
After discussing these topics, the surgeon will then examine the breasts. This may include the surgeon taking detailed measurements of the breasts, including the shape, size, skin quality, and position of the nipples and areolas. The surgeon will then take photographs of the breasts that will remain confidential within a medical file. Finally, they will discuss surgery options, surgical methods, and the next steps.
When recommending a procedure, the surgeon will consider the following:
- Your current breast shape and size
- The breast size and shape you want
- The quality and quantity of breast skin and tissue
Finally, the surgeon will discuss the risks and complications of breast uplift surgery, so patients are able to make a fully informed decision. It is essential that patients understand the potential risks before giving consent to having surgery.
Questions to ask during the breast lift consultation
During a breast uplift consultation, it is beneficial for patients to ask the surgeon any questions they may have that they have not already addressed.
These questions can include:
- What are the realistic results likely to be?
- What can be done to get the best possible results before/after surgery?
- Where will the scars be located?
- Are you able to show me before and after pictures of previous patients who have had breast lift surgery?
BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons want to help patients achieve the best results possible from breast uplift. Patients are therefore advised to be as honest and candid as possible about what they would like to achieve. All information provided will help the surgeon decide if what the patient wants is achievable by surgery.
Risks & Complications
What are the main risks and complications associated with breast lift surgery?
As with any surgery, breast uplift has certain risks and complications. Patients should be aware of these potential risks before agreeing to be operated on.
The most common risks and complications following breast lift surgery include but are not limited to the following:
Bleeding & bruising
Mild bleeding and bruising are common after breast lift surgery. More severe bleeding may be experienced on rare occasions. If excessive bleeding does occur, the breast will become swollen and feel very tight. Patients will most likely need to have further surgery to correct this bleeding which will require them to stay another night in the hospital.
If bleeding is treated promptly, it is unlikely to negatively affect the results of the breast uplift.
Breast lift surgery requires the surgeon to make incisions on the skin of the breasts. This means that scarring is unavoidable. However, these scars are usually mild and will fade with time. Scars take 12 - 18 months to fade to what they will be like for the rest of your life.
Certain patients may be at risk of developing more severe scars called hypertrophic scars or keloid scars. If patients have a predisposition or family history of keloid scars, let the surgeon know as soon as possible so they can prepare a procedure plan accordingly.
Every surgery comes with a risk of infection, and breast lift surgery is no different. When they do happen, these infections are generally mild wound infections that can be treated with antibiotics.
Despite this, it is still important to immediately alert the surgeon or another healthcare professional if patients present any signs of infection. Treating an infection early is the best way to ensure it does not advance and risk the results or health of the patient.
Very rarely, an infection can be much more severe and can even require further surgery to control.
The signs there may be an infection include:
- An elevated temperature over 38°C
- Redness around the scar that begins to spread outward
- Foul-smelling or pus-like fluid coming from the incision line or the drains
- Pain or discomfort that is not relieved by pain medication
Numbness or altered sensations
One of the most common risks of breast lift surgery is numbness or altered sensation of the breasts. This can be either an increased or reduced level of sensitivity around the incision line, areola, or nipple.
If patients experience numbness or oversensitivity, it may return to normal over time as the nerves in the skin and breast tissue heal. This healing process can take several months. In some cases, these altered sensations may end up being permanent after the breasts have healed completely.
There is a chance that during surgery, the blood supply to the nipples, skin, fat or breast tissue may be lost. The areas that lose their blood supply may die. The death of any of this tissue is called ‘necrosis’. Although this is more likely to occur in smokers, it is one of the rarest breast uplift risks. If you develop tissue necrosis, your surgeon will need to perform another procedure to remove the dead tissue, and this will significantly impact your result from surgery. In the rare cases where this happens, further reconstructive surgery will be required.
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that appears under the skin around the incision. Seromas usually develop seven to tendays after surgery. Patients may be able to feel that the affected area is swollen or that there is fluid underneath the skin at or around the incision. Seromas generally increase the time it takes to recover after surgery, but they often resolve on their own.
In some cases, however, the fluid may have to be drained by a medical professional or surgeon.
Over time, ageing, gravity, and other factors like weight loss or gain may affect the results of breast uplift surgery and cause the breasts to begin to sag again. Patients may require revision surgery at some point in the future to revise this sagging.
As with any surgery, there is always a risk that patients may be unsatisfied with the results of the breast uplift. Patients may be unhappy with the size, shape, or symmetry of the breasts after surgery. If patients have any concerns, bring them up with the surgeon, and they will discuss the options.
The surgeon will discuss all the risks and complications associated with breast lift surgery during the free consultation. In order to reduce the risk of these complications, make sure to choose a qualified and trusted surgeon. A great way to do this is to make sure that they are a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS and that they fully understand your expectations.
Preparing for Surgery
How to prepare for breast lift surgery
Immediately after the breast uplift, patients will not be allowed to drive a car because of the effect of anaesthesia. This is why it is vital for patients to get another person to drive them to and from the hospital on the day of surgery.
Once home and healing, the surgeon may instruct patients to wait anywhere from five days to two weeks before driving again. The muscles in the upper arms and chest will be very sore after the breast lift, so moving the wheel of a car may feel extremely painful and can potentially injure the breasts and setback healing. It is therefore important to arrange for another person to drive or make sure there are no important appointments in the days or weeks after the breast lift.
Patients will also need adult supervision for the first 24 hours after breast uplift surgery. This is to ensure patients are safe while the anaesthetic and painkillers from surgery work their way out of the system because they can impact judgement, coordination, and general alertness.
Sleep & rest
Generally, patients should sleep only on their back in a slightly inclined position to prevent excess swelling and keep them comfortable. To prepare for this, it's recommended to have at least a few extra pillows ready on the bed.
It is important for patients to get plenty of rest after surgery. Taking short and light walks around the home occasionally is also important for healing. Keeping lightly mobile in the first days after breast lift surgery dramatically reduces the risk of developing a blood clot in the leg which could severely impact the results or even overall health.
Household items & chores
Patients should put some important and useful items like mugs, glasses, dry food, and crockery on the kitchen counter or table before surgery. This will make healing much easier for patients, as lifting the arms to any large extent will likely be very uncomfortable in the first weeks after breast lift surgery. Having these items available and easy to reach will prevent patients from placing any strain on incisions and keep them comfortable as you heal.
It may also be handy to clean the house, do the washing, and take out the bins before the day of the procedure so patients can focus on healing and relaxing when arriving home after the procedure.
As patients will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while after surgery, patients should do a large food shop the day before. It may also be useful to cook meals in advance and keep them in the freezer so that they do not need to worry about cooking.
Children & pets
Ask family and friends to help look after pets and young children in the first few days or a week after breast lift surgery.
It is important to maintain a healthy diet after surgery. High-protein, low-salt meals, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, give the body the nutrients it needs to heal and reduce the chance of excessive swelling. Overall, while healing, try to avoid food and drinks that contain high amounts of salt and sugar as these types of foods lack the vitamins and minerals the body needs while healing.
Staying well hydrated by drinking water and caffeine-free beverages is also recommended.
Clothing that opens from the front will be more comfortable for patients to wear and change in or out of in the first few days after surgery. Again, the arms and chest will likely be very sore, which will prevent patients from comfortably lifting their arms above the shoulders or head.
Slip-on shoes may also help recovery as they don’t require the patient to have to bend over to put them on.
Patients may also be required to wear a post-operative compression garment or bra after the breast lift. Compression garments aid in healing by reducing swelling. The surgeon will let patients know well before the surgery date if it's needed to wear or purchase one of these garments and will let you know the proper usage while you heal.
Typically they will ask you to wear the garment day and night for between four and six weeks.
- A high BMI, excessive alcohol intake, smoking and recreational drug use (whether medicinal or recreational) all increase the risk of complications developing during and after surgery. Smoking, in particular, increases the risk of infection and delays the wound healing process because it reduces overall blood flow in the body. Surgeons, therefore, advise patients to stop smoking and using all nicotine products for at least six weeks before surgery and to continue to not smoke for at least six weeks after surgery.
- There are also many homoeopathic medications available over the counter that can negatively affect the outcome of the procedure. These medications can include but are not limited to those containing: ginger, ginkgo, cod liver oil, Aspirin, St John’s Wort and many different multivitamins. Patients should let the surgeon know during consultation any supplements or over the counter medications that are taken regularly. To be safe, patients are advised to stop taking all homoeopathic or over the counter medication two weeks before the date of breast lift surgery. This reduces the risk of post-operative bleeding, excessive bruising, and haematoma formation.
What to expect after breast lift surgery
Before patients are discharged from the hospital, the surgeon will talk through the aftercare process related to breast lift surgery. Patients should be able to return home either on the same day or the day after the breast uplift procedure.
Before patients leave the hospital, they will be given a post-operative appointment date. During the post-operative appointment, the surgeon will remove any non-dissolvable stitches, examine how the breasts are healing, and address any surgical complications.
The surgeon will give specific instructions for the breast uplift aftercare process, including timeframes and advice regarding:
- Time off work
- Resuming sport and exercise
- Showering & bathing
Every surgeon has their own advice regarding breast lift surgery aftercare. Patients should always follow the specific advice their surgeon gives them regarding breast uplift recovery.
Time off work
The amount of time patients will need to take off work after a breast lift depends on the type of job they have.
If work involves a lot of physical activity, patients may have to take up to two weeks off work.
If work is low to no impact, like an office job, patients may only need to take one week off.
No matter the type of work done, try to avoid even light impact work for two to three weeks after having a breast lift.
Return to sports & exercise
Although patients will need to get plenty of rest after their breast uplift, patients must make sure they do not stay in bed all day. It is important to take occasional light walks to reduce the risk of developing blood clots after surgery.
Keeping lightly mobile is important, but make sure to adhere to the surgeon’s specific advice regarding sports & exercise.
The following are general guidelines for exercise after breast lift surgery:
Week 1 – 2
During the first two weeks, do not do any exercise at all. Even minor aerobic exercises can increase swelling and result in longer recovery times.
Week 2 – 6
After two weeks, patients should be able to begin any sports like cycling that do not involve a lot of vigorous movement.
After week 6
Six weeks after the breast uplift, patients should be able to resume all kinds of sports and exercise again.
Post-operative compression garment
After having a breast uplift, surgeons may ask you to wear a post-operative compression garment or bra for anywhere between four to six weeks. This is an important part of the aftercare for breast uplift surgery. Wearing this compression bra helps reduce swelling and, in turn, helps get the best result possible.
The surgeon will recommend what type of garment patients should buy and advise on how and how frequently to wear it well before you have the surgery.
The surgeon may recommend a number of different techniques to aid the healing of scars.
These techniques include:
- Massaging the scar twice daily after the incisions have fully healed (usually after two weeks)
- Wearing silicone creams/gels/sheets on your scars for six to twelve months after your scars have completely healed
- Avoid hyperpigmentation of the scars by avoiding sunbeds and sunlight or use high-factor sunscreen when outdoors during the day for the first year after surgery
Patients will be able to see an immediate change in their breasts after a breast uplift. However, it may take six to twelve months before patients can appreciate the full results of breast uplift surgery as the swelling, bruising, and other factors settle and heal.
Remember that the exact recovery times will vary for each individual patient.
BAAPS and BAPRAS
Who are BAAPS and BAPRAS?
The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), and The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) are the UK’s leading associations for plastic surgeons. Surgeons can be members of one or both societies. BAAPS and BAPRAS members are all dedicated to exceptional patient experiences, thorough patient education, as well as keeping up-to-date with advances in medical technology and techniques.
Breast Lift FAQs
It is important for patients to research and understand the basics of breast lift surgery well before agreeing to have surgery. Common breast uplift FAQs include the following:
Breast Lift Surgery Recovery and Post-Operative FAQs
Breast Lift Surgery Risks and Complications FAQs
Breast Lift Surgery FAQs
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More Breast Surgery Procedures
Find a list of the breast surgeries offered by BAAPS/BAPRAS member surgeons below
Breast Lift Procedure Locations
All of the information found on our website is sourced from highly reputable experts, government-approved authorities and is widely used by healthcare professionals.
- https://baaps.org.uk/patients/procedures/5/breast_uplift_mastopexy British Association Of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
- https://www.bapras.org.uk/public/patient-information/surgery-guides/breast-enlargement/other-information British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
- Understand.com Understand
- https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/breast/breast-lift-guide/ American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
Our content is written by our Medical Quality Managers and Patient Care Advisers, all of who have medical backgrounds and training. Prior to publishing, all the information is reviewed by a surgeon specialised within the relevant field.
Learn more about breast uplift surgery
A breast uplift can achieve perky, natural-looking and more youthfully shaped breasts. It is a popular surgery to undo the effects of ageing or pregnancy.