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Breast Lift

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a cosmetic surgery that reshapes and raises breast tissue to achieve a more youthful, “perky,” and firm appearance. This is achieved by removing excess skin, tightening the surrounding tissue, and in some cases reducing the size of the areola. Breast lift surgery is ideal for those who have experienced breast sagging caused by factors like pregnancy and the natural aging process. For those wanting to increase their breast volume, as well, breast implants can be placed during the breast lift procedure to create more fullness.

Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Neil J. Zemmel, is well-known for his expertise with breast procedures like mastopexy, augmentation, breast reduction surgery, and more. If you’re considering a breast lift, this page will give you a basic understanding of the procedure, including when it can help, how Dr. Zemmel performs the procedure at Richmond Aesthetic Surgery, and what results you can expect. Dr. Zemmel can answer more specific questions during your initial consultation, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask him if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand. While no surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity, mastopexy can “set back the clock” and give a long-lasting result.

Am I a Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?

Ideal candidates for breast lift surgery are those in generally good health with realistic expectations about what the procedure can help them achieve. While breasts of any size can effectively be lifted, women with smaller sagging breasts typically obtain the longest-lasting results from breast lift surgery. Those with larger breasts may find the weight of their breast tissue causes additional sagging in the future.

Another factor to consider when seeking breast lift surgery is future pregnancies. Many women choose to undergo a breast lift after pregnancy and breastfeeding has led to stretched tissue and reduced volume. While breast lift surgery typically does not interfere with the ability to breastfeed later, Dr. Zemmel often recommends waiting until after you have completed your family to undergo the procedure, as additional pregnancies can compromise your results.

A breast lift can enhance both your appearance and self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Zemmel.

What Does the Breast Lift Consultation Involve?

In your initial consultation, it’s important to discuss your expectations frankly with Dr. Zemmel. He will examine your breasts and take measurements while you’re sitting and standing. He will evaluate the breast contour and shape, position on the chest wall, and the elasticity of your skin. You will also discuss the new location of the nipple and areola and how high you would like it positioned. He will discuss these factors with you in detail, as they will influence the final outcome of your procedure. Dr. Zemmel will also discuss whether breast augmentation is necessary for helping you achieve your aesthetic goals.

Your procedure will be described in full detail, explaining its risks and limitations and making sure you understand the scarring that will result. He will also explain the anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved. At any point of the process, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

What Are the Risks of Breast Lift Surgery?

Breast lift surgery is considered safe when performed by a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Zemmel has obtained training in an accredited Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency and has excelled to the highest levels. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks that you should be aware of.

Rare complications of breast lift surgery including bleeding, infection, and prominent scarring. Although a breast lift does leave noticeable, permanent scars, Dr. Zemmel places incisions in areas easy to conceal with a bra or bathing suit. It’s also important to note that smoking increases the time for complete healing as well as the overall complication rate. Smokers are also subject to wider scars. Dr. Zemmel strongly recommends quitting smoking 4 weeks before and after surgery. The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.

To minimize your risk of any complications, you should follow Dr. Zemmel’s pre- and post-operative care instructions closely. You will have multiple follow-up appointments throughout your recovery, as well, allowing him to monitor your healing.

How Should I Prepare for My Breast Lift?

Depending on your age and family history, Dr. Zemmel may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. Dr. Zemmel asks for mammograms on all women over the age of 35. You will also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.

What Does the Breast Lift Procedure Entail?

Hospital Status: Outpatient
Anesthesia: General anesthesia or deep sedation
Surgery Time: 1 ½ to 3 hours
Incision Techniques: Crescent, donut, or anchor

Your breast lift surgery will be performed in a hospital setting on an outpatient basis. Dr. Zemmel performs the procedure under general anesthesia or under deep sedation with local anesthesia. When general anesthesia is employed, you can expect to be asleep, completely comfortable, and unaware of the surgery. For smaller procedures, Dr. Zemmel may use local anesthesia with sedation. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and should feel no discomfort.

Dr. Zemmel performs mastopexy in one and a half to three hours, depending on the technique. He uses four different techniques depending how much excess skin needs to be removed and how much lifting of the breast tissue is needed. The incision pattern dictates how much excess skin will be removed and allows Dr. Zemmel access to the deeper tissue for reshaping.

Crescent Breast Lift

In patients who require a small lift of the nipple and areola, a small crescent-shaped section of skin is removed from directly above the nipple and areola. This moves the breast and nipple to a higher position. This procedure uses a small, well-hidden incision directly around the top half of the areola that is hardly noticeable without clothing.

Donut Breast Lift

Patients who need a larger amount of lift may be candidates for a Benelli (donut, periareolar, or concentric) mastopexy, where skin is removed in a circular pattern around the nipple to tighten the breast skin in all directions and provide an upward lift. This incision pattern goes completely around the nipple and areola and is also well hidden. This technique also reduces the size of the areola.

Anchor Breast Lift

If the amount of excess skin and sagging exceeds the limits of these techniques, a vertical lift or full-anchor pattern incision may be needed. The vertical lift incision pattern goes around the areola and nipple completely and includes a vertical incision straight down, making a “lollipop” shape. The anchor pattern includes incisions used in a vertical lift plus a horizontal incision located in the crease beneath the breast along the chest wall.

If you’re having an implant inserted along with your breast lift, it will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue, or deeper, under the muscle of the chest wall. Dr. Zemmel closes all breast incisions with fine, absorbable sutures that give an excellent cosmetic result and do not need to be removed.

Dr. Zemmel goes into great detail to advise you on what technique can give you the best results, as well as the pros and cons of each.

What Can I Expect After Breast Lift Surgery?

Dr. Zemmel will personally call you the night of surgery to check in and then see you in the office several days later. Healing is a gradual process. You will need to wear a surgical bra over your dressings at first. You can expect some degree of bruising, swelling, and discomfort for the first couple days after surgery. Pain medication prescribed to you should control any feelings of discomfort. Although you may be up and about in a day or two, don’t plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending on how you feel.

At your first post-operative office visit, the bandages or surgical bra will be replaced by a soft support bra. You’ll need to wear this bra for three to four weeks. This will provide good support for your breast while the tissues heal and gain strength. You will not be able to do any heavy exercise or lift anything over your head for three to four weeks following surgery. You may be instructed to refrain from sex for a week or longer.

It is normal to experience a slight numbness in your breast skin and nipples, as a result of swelling. This reduction or loss of sensation typically subsides over the first six weeks of recovery. For some patients, this may last for a year or longer and, in rare cases, may be a permanent side effect. Dr. Zemmel will address all of these concerns in regular follow-up visits. He is also available 24 hours a day to address any of your concerns.

What Will My Breast Lift Scars Look Like?

Dr. Zemmel will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible. The healing process takes 12 to 18 months to complete. During this time scars will soften and fade, but they often remain bumpy and red for months. They then gradually become less obvious, sometimes eventually fading to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars can usually be placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops without showing.

How Long Do Breast Lift Results Last?

The results from breast lift surgery can last for several years. While the effects of gravity, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations will eventually restart the aging process, the breast lift procedure can give you the more youthful and firmer breast appearance you desire.

How Much Does a Breast Lift Cost?

The average cost of breast lift surgery is around $4,600, which includes the surgeon’s fee and does not take into account fees like anesthesia or the surgical facility. Other factors that can influence your total cost include the geographic area, expertise of your plastic surgeon, and complexity of your procedure.

Once a surgical plan has been established during your consultation, our team will provide you with a personalized quote for your procedure to help you budget accordingly. If you would like to break your total cost into smaller monthly payments, we accept financing from third-party lenders like CareCredit®.

If you have any questions about breast lift surgery, or are ready to schedule your consultation with Dr. Zemmel, please contact Richmond Aesthetic Surgery today!