1.5 to 3 hours
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
6 - 12 months
A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy or “breast uplift” is a surgical procedure that raises breasts to achieve a firmer and perkier shape. 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.
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1.5 to 3 hours
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
6 - 12 months
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, and potentially resize the areolae. Removing this excess skin creates breasts that are firm and perky. During a breast lift, your 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, your surgeon may suggest combining the uplift with a breast enlargement in order to add fullness to the breasts.
You should aim to be at your target weight prior to surgery. This is because major weight changes can affect the results of your breast lift.
You should also aim to complete your family before having your breast uplift. While every patient reacts differently to surgery, there is a chance your breast lift could impact your ability to breastfeed because it involves incisions made on the breast. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also affect the results of your breast lift and cause sagging post-surgery.
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 may 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.
All of our surgeons at Medbelle are members of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS. This helps us ensure that our patients receive only the highest quality of care. It is important for you to check that your surgeon is a BAAPS/BAPRAS member before having surgery.
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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:
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 vital that you stop smoking before breast lift surgery. When you smoke, blood flow throughout your body is reduced. Reduced blood flow slows healing times which puts you at a much higher risk of infection after surgery. The reduced blood flow associated with smoking also puts you at greater risk of complications like necrosis (tissue death) which are caused by lack of blood flow. Delicate areas like the nipples or areolae are especially at risk of complications like necrosis. If necrosis or other complications do develop, you can be left with unsatisfactory or potentially disfiguring results. To ensure you have the best results possible from your breast lift surgery, it is essential for you to follow your surgeon's guidance and avoid smoking before surgery.
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:
Ideally, you should reach your target weight and complete your family before having surgery. This is because significant weight changes, pregnancy, and breastfeeding can all affect the results of your breast lift by altering the size of the breasts.
A breast uplift aims to:
Breast lift surgery will not significantly change the size of your breasts.
Your surgeon may suggest you combine your breast uplift with a breast enlargement in order to achieve the results you 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. You can find more information about breast enlargement surgery here.
Breast lift surgery takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to perform. Make sure you follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon related to drinking, eating, and medication use in the days before your surgery.
Generally, breast lift surgery involves the following steps:
Before your surgeon can operate on you, you need to sign a consent form. You can sign this form either on the day of your surgery after arriving to the hospital, or during your pre-operative assessment about a week before your surgery date.
When you arrive at the hospital, you will meet your anaesthetist and surgeon. Then your surgeon will draw guide marks on your breasts and describe to you again 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 you have agreed upon with your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon during your consultation.
When the surgery begins, your surgeon will clean your skin then place a surgical drape over your body to ensure your chest remains sterile during the procedure.
They will then make the incisions to begin your breast lift.
Your surgeon has a variety of different incisions to choose from when performing your 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.
Your surgeon will discuss which type of incision method is best for you before your surgery. As they make this decision, they will take into account your 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:
Your surgeon may use a periareolar incision during your breast lift if you have a minimal degree of sagging. This is the least popular type of incision as it can only provide a small amount of lift to the breasts.
If you have mild breast sagging, your surgeon may use a circumareolar incision for your breast uplift. This technique is not commonly used as it allows for a relatively small amount of lift.
A vertical incision is the most commonly used technique during breast lift surgery. It is used on patients with a moderate amount of breast sagging. This method allows for a much larger amount of skin to be removed than either of the areolar methods and so provides much more lift to the breasts.
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.
Your surgeon will then close the incision they have made and apply a surgical wound dressings over the breasts.
They may also put surgical drains in below the skin of the breasts. These drains help reduce swelling and bruising. Your surgeon will most likely remove them before you leave the hospital.
Once you are bandaged, you will be returned to the ward to recover from the anaesthetic. Likely you will be able to return home the same day or the following day.
You will immediately be able to see a change in your breast shape after surgery. It may, however, take 6 to 12 months before you are able to appreciate the full cosmetic result of your breast uplift procedure as all the swelling subsides and the scars begin to heal and fade.
Your breast uplift consultation will last between 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Remember, your consultation is your time to be open and honest with your surgeon about your expectations, concerns, and medical history. Try not to feel embarrassed or scared to share details with your surgeon. They are a trained medical professional, and every bit of information about your health, habits, and life can help them get you the best results possible.
Your surgeon will likely discuss the topics mentioned below with you during your consultation:
After discussing these topics, your surgeon will then examine your breasts. This may include your surgeon taking detailed measurements of your breasts including the shape, size, skin quality, and position of the nipples and areolae. Your surgeon will then take photographs of your breasts that will remain confidential within your medical file. Finally, they will discuss your treatment options, surgical methods, and next steps with you.
When recommending a treatment, your surgeon will consider the following:
Finally, your surgeon will discuss the risks and complications of breast uplift surgery with you so you can make a fully informed decision. It is essential that you understand the potential risks before you give consent to have surgery.
During your breast uplift consultation, it is beneficial for you to ask your surgeon any questions you may have that they have not already addressed.
These questions can include:
Our Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons want to help you achieve the best results possible from your breast uplift. You should therefore be as honest and candid as possible about what you would like to achieve. Any information you provide will help your surgeon decide if what you want to achieve is possible or not.
As with any surgery, breast uplift is related to certain risks and complications. You must 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:
Mild bleeding and bruising are common after breast lift surgery. More severe bleeding may be experienced in rare occasions. If excessive bleeding does occur, the breast will become swollen and feel very tight. You will most likely need to have further surgery to correct this bleeding which will require you to stay another night in hospital.
If your bleeding is treated promptly, it is unlikely to negatively affect the results of your breast uplift.
Breast lift surgery requires your surgeon to make incisions on the skin of your breasts. This means that scarring is unavoidable. However, these scars are mild and will fade with time.
Certain patients may be at risk of developing more severe scars called hypertrophic scars or keloid scars. If you know you have a predisposition or family history of keloid scars, let your surgeon know as soon as possible so they can prepare your treatment 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 your surgeon or another healthcare professional if you present any signs of infection. Treating an infection early is the best way to ensure it does not advance and risk your results or your health.
The signs you may have an infection include:
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 you experience numbness or oversensitivity, this very likely to return to normal over time as the nerves in the skin and breast tissue heal. This healing process can take several months.
In rare cases, these altered sensations may remain permanent after your 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 these tissues is called ‘necrosis’. Although this is more likely to occur in smokers, it is one of the rarest breast uplift risks, and is therefore unlikely to occur. If you develop tissue necrosis, your surgeon will need to preform another procedure to remove the dead tissue.
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that appears under the skin around the incision. Seromas usually develop 7 to 10 days after surgery. You 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 your breast uplift and cause the breasts to begin to sag again. You may require a revision surgery at some point in the future to revise this sagging.
As with any surgery, there is always a risk that you may be unsatisfied with the results of your breast uplift. You may be unhappy with the size, shape, or symmetry of your breasts after surgery. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your surgeon and they will discuss your options with you.
Your surgeon will discuss all the risks and complications associated with breast lift surgery with you during your consultation. In order to reduce the risk of these complications, make sure to choose a qualified surgeon that you trust. 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.
Medbelle suggests the following tips to help with you prepare for breast uplift surgery:
Immediately after your breast uplift, you will not be allowed to drive a car because of the effect of anaesthesia as well as the chance you could injure the surgical wounds on your breasts from moving too much. This is easy to do because the area will still be numb. This is why it is vital for you to get another person to drive you to and from the hospital on the day of your surgery. If you cannot arrange transportation for yourself, the Medbelle team is happy to help arrange transportation for you.
Once you are home and healing, your surgeon may instruct you to wait anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks before you drive again. The muscles in your upper arms and chest will be very sore after your breast lift, so moving the wheel of a car may feel extremely painful and can potentially injure your breasts and setback your healing. It is therefore important to arrange another person to transport you, or make sure you have no important appointments in the days or weeks after your breast lift.
You will also need adult supervision for the first 24 hours after your breast uplift. This is to ensure you are safe while the anaesthetic and painkillers from surgery work their way out of your system because they can impact your judgement, coordination, and general alertness.
Generally, in the first few days after your surgery, you should only sleep on your back at a slightly inclined position to prevent excess swelling and keep you comfortable. To prepare for this, we recommend having at least a few extra pillows ready on your bed.
It is important for you to get plenty of rest after your surgery. Taking occasional, small, light walks around your home is also important for healing. Keeping lightly mobile in the first days after your breast lift surgery dramatically reduces your risk of developing a blood clot in your leg which could severely impact your results or even overall health.
You should put some important and useful items like mugs, glasses, dry food, and crockery on your kitchen counter or table before surgery. This will make healing much easier for you, as lifting your arms to any large extent will likely be very uncomfortable in the first weeks after your breast lift surgery. Having these items available and easy to reach will prevent you from placing any strain on your incisions and keep you comfortable as you heal.
It may also be handy to clean the house, do laundry, and take out the bins before the day of your procedure so you can focus on healing and relaxing when you arrive home after your procedure.
As you will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while after your surgery, you should do a large grocery shop the day before. It may also be useful to cook meals in advance and keep them in the freezer so that you do not need to worry about cooking.
Ask family and friends to help look after pets and young children in the first few days or week after your 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 your 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 your 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 you to wear and change in or out of in the first few days after surgery. Again, your arms and chest will likely be very sore which will prevent you from comfortably lifting your arms above your shoulders or head.
Slip-on shoes may also help recovery as they don’t require you to bend over to put them on.
You may also be required to wear a post-operative compression garment or bra after your breast lift. Compression garments aid in healing by reducing swelling. Your surgeon will let you know well before your surgery date if you need to wear or purchase one of these garments, and will let you know the proper usage while you heal.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, your surgeon will talk you through the aftercare process related to breast lift surgery. You should be able to return home either on the same day or the day after your breast uplift procedure.
Before you leave the hospital, you will be given a post-operative appointment date. During your post-operative appointment, your surgeon will remove any non-dissolvable stitches, examine how your breasts are healing, and address any surgical complications.
Your surgeon will give specific instructions for your breast uplift aftercare process, including timeframes and advice regarding:
Every surgeon has their own advice regarding breast lift surgery aftercare. You should always follow the specific advice your surgeon gives you regarding your breast uplift recovery.
The amount of time you will need to take off work after your breast lift depends on the type of job you have.
If your work involves a lot of physical activity you may have to take up to 2 weeks off work.
If your work is low to no impact, like an office job, you may only need to take 1 week off.
No matter the type of work you do, try to avoid even light impact work for 2 to 3 weeks after your breast lift.
Although you will need to get plenty of rest after your breast uplift, you must make sure that you do not stay in bed all day. It is important to take occasional light walks to reduce your risk of developing blood clots after surgery.
Keeping lightly mobile is important, but make sure to adhere to your surgeon’s specific advice regarding sports & exercise.
The following are general guidelines for exercise after breast lift surgery:
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.
After 2 weeks, you should be able to begin any sports like cycling that do not involve a lot of vigorous movement.
6 weeks after your breast uplift, you should be able to resume all kinds of sports and exercise again.
After your breast uplift, your surgeon will ask you to wear a post-operative compression garment or bra for anywhere between 2 to 5 weeks. This is an important part of the aftercare for your breast uplift. Wearing this compression bra helps reduce swelling and in turn helps get you the best result possible.
Your surgeon will recommend what type of garment you should buy and advise you on how and how frequently to wear it well before your surgery date.
Due to the side effects of anaesthesia on your judgement, coordination, and awareness, you will not be able to drive immediately after your procedure. You must, therefore, arrange for someone to escort you home.
For your safety, it is advised that you are supervised for the first 24 hours after your surgery while the anaesthesia wears off completely.
Your surgeon may recommend a number of different techniques to aid the healing of your scars.
These techniques include:
You will be able to see an immediate change in your breasts after your breast uplift. It may, however, take 6 to 12 months before you are able to appreciate the full cosmetic results of your breast uplift surgery as the swelling, bruising, and other factors settle and heal.
It is important for you to research and understand the basics of breast lift surgery well before agreeing to have surgery. Common breast uplift FAQs include the following:
The amount of time you need to take off depends on the type of job you have. If your work involves lots of physical activity, you may need to take up to 2 weeks off. If however, it doesn’t, then you will need to take only 1 week off.
As all breast uplift procedures require an incision to be made around the nipple, some of the milk ducts, glands or nerves may be damaged. This can mean that some women may find that they have more difficulty breastfeeding, and may produce less milk after a breast uplift. The chances are high that you will still be able to breastfeed after your breast uplift, on the assumption that you were able to breastfeed before surgery. If you have any plans to become pregnant or breastfeed after your operation, you must discuss this with your surgeon.
If you’ve recently had a baby and are currently breastfeeding, your surgeon may ask that you stop breastfeeding 3 to 6 months before your breast uplift.
If you’ve recently had a baby and are currently breastfeeding, your surgeon may ask that you stop breastfeeding 3 to 6 months before your breast uplift. This allows enough time for your breasts to settle before the surgery.
If you have recently had a baby, your surgeon may ask that you wait 3 to 6 months before having your breast uplift surgery.
Your surgeon will usually be happy to see you without a referral letter from your GP. They may however, ask to contact your GP for details regarding your medical history and care.
As a breast uplift is a cosmetic procedure, it is not usually available on the NHS.
Any significant weight changes that occur after your breast uplift can affect the results of your procedure. This effect will however, vary from patient to patient.
If there are questions that have not been answered in this breast uplift FAQs page, give us a call.
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