Cosmetic surgery of all kinds, particularly with regards to breasts, has become a commonplace part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s a candid chat with friends, a surreptitious flip through a celeb-gossip mag, or a more serious conversation with our doctors, most of us would have engaged in a conversation in one way or another about breast surgery.
While the breast lift (or ‘mastopexy’ as your doctor would say) sounds simple enough, there’s a lot going on under the surface that you may not be aware of. In fact, the details of the surgery are significantly different from that of a standard boob job altering everything from your initial consultation right through to the end results.
Because we want everyone to have the tools to make an informed decision, we decided to speak with Dr David Sharp, a highly-regarded Brisbane-based FRACS credentialed plastic surgeon, to learn more about breast lifts. Assisted by a team of clinical and administrative professionals, Dr Sharp is highly sought after for his expertise and down-to-earth approach. We asked him six of the most common questions our readers have about breast lifts. At the very least we hope you have some understanding of the topic the next time it comes up over drinks!
How is a breast lift different from a breast augmentation?
To put it simply, one procedure lifts the breasts and the other enlarges them. A breast lift removes excess skin and lifts the nipple and is sometimes used to reduce the areola. A breast augmentation increases the volume of the breasts but does not remove excess skin or significantly lift the nipple/areola. Mastopexies can be performed on their own or in combination with an augmentation to lift and enlarge, and this is called an augmentation mastopexy.
For many women, this procedure is the first thing they have done solely for themselves in a very long time, often after having and raising children. For this reason it’s important to respect your own motivations and goals for your body.
What kind of woman is best suited to a breast lift as opposed to other breast procedures?
Breast sagging isn’t uncommon – in fact, most women will experience it in varying degrees as they get older. While perfectly natural, it can sometimes cause women to feel self-conscious or dissatisfied with how they fill out their bras, swimwear or certain clothes – or how they look without their clothes on. Plus, excess skin folds can cause infections and discomfort, especially in warmer weather, which isn’t pleasant for anyone.
If you don’t have much breast tissue, are bothered by excess skin, or your nipple/areola sits below your breast crease, mastopexy surgery might be suitable for you. It’s generally recommended you wait until breast development, childbirth and breastfeeding have stopped before undertaking breast lift surgery as pregnancy or weight gain after surgery can stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.
What is the process (from consultation to completion) of undergoing a breast lift?
While many of us feel self-confident talking about our bodies and plastic surgery, it’s important to remember that your surgeon isn’t there to judge. Your concerns are more common than you think and they’ve seen and heard everything you could think of! During the first consultation you and your doctor will discuss your breast goals and concerns. The surgeon will examine your chest and walk you through the procedure, as well as its risks and potential post-operative complications. This is also the time to discuss the recovery process; it is important to plan ahead for time away from work and strenuous activities at home. Patients usually attend at least two consultations before their surgery, as there is a lot of information to consider before deciding if breast lift surgery is right for you.
The procedure itself takes approximately 2 hours and is usually performed as day surgery. Surgeons can use a number of breast lifting techniques, but the most common is an anchor lift, whereby an incision is made around the nipple, vertically down the middle of the lower half of the breast, and horizontally within the breast crease.
What can I expect post-surgery? Can you describe the healing process?
Breast lift surgery is typically performed as a day procedure so you will usually go home on the same day. You’ll be required to wear a post-operative recovery bra to support your healing for the first six weeks while also avoiding any strenuous activity. Depending on your work, most patients return to work usually within 1-2 weeks. In the months following your surgery, you and your doctor will arrange some review appointments to see how you’re progressing.
Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. The final results of your breast lift will appear over several months as breast shape and position continue to settle. While mastopexy scars usually fade, as with any scar it will always be visible to some extent.
Are breast lifts with implants better?
It depends on what you wish to achieve for your body. If you just want to address excess skin issues and improve your breasts’ shape, a lift alone will achieve your desired result. If you have always wanted larger breasts (or miss the volume you had pre-pregnancy or before losing weight), you may need to consider implants as well to attain the outcome you want.
If a patient wishes to have their breasts lifted and enlarged, a ‘breast augmentation mastopexy’ is required. This is a breast lift followed by enlargement using implants. This can be done as a single combined procedure or over two operations.
What are some common misconceptions regarding breast lifts?
Patients often ask if implants alone can act as a breast a lift and replace the need for mastopexy surgery. In most cases of true breast ptosis, this isn’t the case.
Patients with drooping breasts who want a larger, perkier look often hope they won’t need a mastopexy and try to find a doctor who is willing to perform their augmentation without a lift. However, if you have visited a specialist plastic surgeon and they have advised you that a lift combined with an augmentation is the best way to achieve your desired result, it’s because experience tells them that you will eventually be disappointed with the outcome of an augmentation alone.
Top tip: Make sure you visit the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons online to check out their Surgeon Finder tool. It’s the easiest and most reliable way to check the credentials and background of your preferred surgeon!
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