Breast Lift: A Step By Step Description

by Dr. Jason Martin 

April 21, 2020

How do breast lifts work

  • Step-by-step outline of what goes on during a breast lift
  • Steps of recovery 

For non-plastic surgeons out there, it is hard to fully understand how many of the cosmetic surgeries that we offer in our office work.  A breast lift falls into that category.  Somehow, someway, when you get breast lift surgery, your sagging and deflated breast become perky and youthful.  It seems like magic.  But, trust us, there is no wizardry involved.  What it does require is a few key ingredients: a competent surgeon with a vision, a supportive surgical team and most importantly a motivated patient with sagging breast.  So, if you are that motivated patient with sagging breasts, this blog article is our gift to you: a full breakdown of how a breast lift works from start to finish.

Initial consult clinic visit:  At the initial visit we discuss your motivations for seeking out a breast lift and the breast shape and size that you desire.  We also complete a full evaluation, including a review of your medical history and an exam of your breast.  From this exam, we will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for breast lift surgery or a combination procedure with breast lift and augmentation surgery.  It is this appointment where you also look at before and after pictures to get an idea of outcomes and where we discuss with you the cost of the procedure. 

Pre operative visit: At this point, you have signed up for surgery and you are excited to get this surgery completed.  During this visit, we will re-review of your past medical history and you will undergo another physical exam.  We also give you your pre and post operative instructions and complete any necessary preoperative paperwork.   This includes signing of a consent form after a thorough review of the risk and benefits of the procedure.  Pre operative photographs of your breast will be taken. These are really helpful for comparison purposes after you heal.  If required, you will get prescriptions for medications, labs and/or an EKG.  We may also require you to obtain an updated mammogram.  Most importantly, we will finalize the surgical plan, and with your help, pick out the perfect breast implants for you if you are also desiring a breast augmentation.

The surgery:  On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the surgical facility a few hours before the surgery start time. You will meet the nurses and the anesthesia staff.  We will also likely mark on your breast with a surgical marker in the preoperative holding area.  These markings guide us during the surgery.   A breast lift surgery takes about two to three hours to complete.  The surgery will obviously be longer when it is combined with other surgeries like breast augmentation, liposuction or tummy tuck.  You are asleep during surgery so you will not feel discomfort.  We also inject local anesthesia during that time so when you wake up, you shouldn’t feel a lot of discomfort either.  As how we do breast lift surgery, below is a quick summary:

We commonly use one of two approaches with breast lift surgery:  A vertical approach, or lollipop scar, which places the scar around your areola and below your nipple in the midline or a more involved approach which uses an anchor scar that is similar in fashion to the lollipop scar but also includes a scar along the base of your breast. A lollipop scar is preferred in many cases as it minimizes the length of the scars.  In some cases though, an anchor scar is necessary to remove an excess amount of breast tissue along the base of your breast.  Both of these scars heal very well.  If your droopiness is only slight, sometimes we only make an incision around your areola, referred to as a periareolar approach. This technique is very useful when combined with a breast augmentation surgery.  One last point in regards to the surgery.  No matter the type of incision we use, in general, this surgery primarily rearranges the anatomy of your breast internally to create the desired change.  If you only rely on pulling the skin tight, the results wont last.  Make sure that your surgeon is doing the internal work that will ensure that your results are long lasting.

Recovery: Most are surprised at how little discomfort they have during recovery.  The use of local anesthesia during surgery really does decrease discomfort immediately after surgery.  Intermittent icing is sometimes helpful if ok’d by your surgeon.  Pain medications, muscle relaxants and compression garments help during the first week after surgery to minimize any discomfort and pain.  After 1 week, pain medication is usually not necessary and non narcotics like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be used instead.  Usually by 2 weeks after surgery all medications can be discontinued.  The length of use of the supportive undergarment will vary and just depends on how it makes you feel.  Most like the support and use it for the first 4 weeks of recovery and sometimes longer.  After 1 month, you should be at your baseline, but getting back into your full exercise routine may take a little longer.  Exercise can cause swelling which can be uncomfortable, especially in the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.  It is best to ease back into this routine slowly and temporarily change up some of the exercises if necessary.

If your recovery seems slow, treatments like lymphatic massage and LED light therapy can really make a difference.  These are especially helpful after the first 4 weeks following your surgery.  Also, avoiding alcohol and smoking during recovery will be absolutely necessary as these two things will extend your recovery time and worsen your results.

Summary:  That covers everything you need to know about breast lift surgery.  If you want to know even more, click on the link below for more information.  Good luck!

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