Over time, the effects of gravity and the loss of the skin's natural elasticity begin to have an effect on the appearance of a woman's breasts. These factors, combined with pregnancies and nursing, may cause the breasts to lose their youthful shape and firmness. A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to elevate, tighten, and reshape breasts that have a droopy or bottom-heavy appearance. The procedure can also reduce the size of the areolas (the darker skin surrounding the nipples). Breast lift surgery may be performed either with or without having breast implants placed at the same time. Many women with fuller breasts like how they look in a bra and do not want more fullness. For them, mastopexy surgery by itself may provide a great result. Other women want to have more fullness in the upper part of their breasts. They notice that their breasts look low in general and they have a gap at the top of their bra when they lean forward. For these women breast implants may enhance the result of breast lift surgery.
There are different types of mastopexies. One of the most important factors in helping a woman achieve the best result is matching the right woman with the right type of breast lift. Dr. Kunkel uses the Vectra XT 3-dimensional photography system to help with this. Each of the three major types of mastopexies has been programmed into the Vectra system software. With a few mouse clicks, the 3-d image of the woman's torso is altered to show how a specific type of breast lift may affect the appearance of her breasts. The various options, with the potential advantages and disadvantages, are thoroughly discussed with each patient.
Dr. Kunkel performs breast lift surgery in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center, with the woman being put to sleep (general anesthesia) for the procedure. The surgery typically takes between 2 to 3½ hours and the woman is able to go home the same day.
At the end of mastopexy surgery the breasts are wrapped with gauze dressings. After about two days the dressings are removed and a soft bra may be all that is required after that. Typically some bruising is present for a couple of weeks. Immediately after breast lift surgery there is often quite a bit of fullness in the upper breasts and the bottom of the breasts may appear a bit tight. Over two or three months after mastopexy surgery the weight of the tissues, and the weight of the breast implants if implants were placed, creates some stretching of the tissues in the lower part of the breasts. As these tissues stretch the lower part of the breast rounds out and appears more natural. Some of the upper breast fullness that was present initially shifts more toward the central part of the breasts. Most women may return to work in 1 or 2 weeks.
For women who may want to have one or two more children, it's probably best to wait to have breast lift surgery. Pregnancy and breast-feeding result in substantial changes to the breasts, and breast lift surgery does not alter those normal physiologic responses.
As with any surgery, complications are possible. For mastopexy these may include numbness, uneven positioning of nipples, asymmetry of the results, and widening of scars. Other less common risks include infection, bleeding, long-term pain, and loss of a nipple.
If you would like more information about Breast Lift or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (817) 335-5200.