As a woman grows older, a number of factors — including pregnancy, nursing, the force of gravity, or weight gain and loss — may cause her breasts to sag. A surgical procedure called mastopexy, or breast lift, can raise and reshape sagging breasts and reduce the size of the areola (the darker skin around the nipple). Of course, no surgery can delay the effects of gravity forever, but mastopexy may be able to give you the enhanced appearance you’re looking for.

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The Procedure

The most common mastopexy technique involves removing a section of skin above the nipple and moving the nipple up into this new location. After removing the excess skin, the surgeon pulls down the skin that used to surround the areola and sutures it together to reshape the breast. Stitches are usually placed around the areola, in a vertical line extending from the areola to the base of the breast, and along the lower crease of the breast. If you have smaller breasts, your doctor may slightly modify the technique, but the general approach is the same.

If you’re having breast augmentation at the same time as your breast lift, the doctor will also place an implant under your breast tissue and/or under your chest muscles.

This procedure takes two to three hours and is typically performed on an outpatient basis.

What Can I Expect?

Your breasts will probably be swollen and sore for a few days following your surgery, but your discomfort can be managed with oral pain relievers. Right after surgery, you’ll wear a surgical bra over gauze dressings. After a few days, you’ll begin wearing a soft support bra, which you’ll wear continuously for the next two to four weeks. The doctor will remove your sutures after a week or two. You should be able to return to work after a week or so, but you should continue to take it easy for about a month. After that, you can gradually resume your regular routine.

Who Is A Candidate?

Most women who seek mastopexy are dissatisfied with how their breasts look after pregnancy and nursing. Their skin has stretched, and they may have decreased breast volume or enlarged areolas.

You will likely be most pleased with the results of mastopexy if you:

  • Are in good physical and emotional health.
  • Have small, sagging breasts. (The operation can be performed on breasts of any size, but the results may not last as long in women with heavy breasts.)
  • Do not plan to have more children. (While a breast lift shouldn’t interfere with future pregnancies, your breasts will likely stretch if you become pregnant. Most women choose to postpone their breast lift until they are finished having children.)
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