Mastopexy also known as breast lift is a surgical procedure to lift and reshape sagging breasts. Common reasons for a mastopexy include natural effects of aging, pregnancy, and weight loss. By trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissue, breasts can be made to sit higher on the chest and be firmer to the touch. In addition, the nipple and areola can be repositioned or resized to further enhance breast appearance. Because mastopexy does not change breast size, it is often combined with breast augmentation or reduction.
Breast lift can offer a dramatic improvement in the shape and contour of the breasts, helping to restore a more youthful breast appearance that may have been lost with age, pregnancy or weight loss.
An eligible mastopexy candidate is in good overall health, maintains a stable weight, and has realistic expectations about what mastopexy can do. A woman who chooses to undergo mastopexy has one or more of the following:
- Sagging breasts
- Breasts that have lost shape or volume
- Breasts that are flat or elongated
- Nipples or areolas pointing downward
- One breast lower than the other
A woman planning to have (more) children should not undergo mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing can counteract its benefits.
Mastopexy is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, and usually takes 1 to 3 hours. Depending on the size and shape of the breasts, as well as the degree of sagging and amount of excess skin, one of the following types of incisions is often used:
- Two rings, one larger than the other, around the areola
- A keyhole shape, around the areola and down to the breast crease
- An anchor shape, beginning in the breast crease, and extending up to and around the areola
The first type of incision (above) is used for small breasts and leaves the least amount of scarring; the third type is used for breasts with significant sagging.
After the incisions are made, breast tissue is removed and reshaped to achieve the desired breast contour. The nipple and areola are usually moved higher on the breast or resized. Excess skin is trimmed to create a tighter, more defined appearance. Incisions are closed with stitches.
In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, risks specific to mastopexy include the following:
- Temporary or permanent change in nipple/breast sensation
- Irregularities in breast contour/shape
- Partial or total loss of nipple/areola
Depending on the incision type used, mastopexy can produce visible scars. Although some incisions can be concealed in the natural breast contours, others cannot. In most cases, however, scars fade over time, becoming much less apparent.
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