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A breast uplift, also known as a mastopexy or “boob lift”, is a surgical procedure that aims to lift the breasts. This allows the breasts to achieve a firmer and younger-looking shape. It is essential that you familiarise yourself with this procedure before having treatment. This breast uplift overview gives a good initial introduction to the surgery.
What can a breast uplift achieve?
Sagging or drooping breasts can develop after breastfeeding, ageing, weight loss or pregnancy. The breasts begin to droop when the skin and breast ligaments begin to stretch, therefore providing less support to the underlying breast tissue.
A breast uplift will not significantly alter the size of your breasts. In some cases, your surgeon may suggest combining the uplift with a breast enlargement in order to add a fullness to the breasts. A breast lift can however, achieve the following:
- Lifted breasts
- Removal of excess skin
- Firmer and more shapely breasts
- Adjustment of the areola shape, position or size
- An increase in body confidence and self-esteem
You should aim to be at your target weight prior to surgery. This is because major weight changes can affect the results of your breast uplift. You should also aim to complete your family before having your breast uplift. This is because pregnancy and breastfeeding can also have an affect on the results.
Who is an ideal candidate for a breast uplift?
Some women may want a breast uplift to improve the shape and look of their breasts. The most suitable breast uplift candidates include patients who are:
- Over 18 years old
- Have realistic expectations
- Physically healthy
- Not pregnant or nursing
- Prepared emotionally for the procedure
- Unhappy with the appearance of their breasts
- Non-smokers, or have not smoked or used nicotine for a minimum of 6 weeks before the operation.
Why have a breast uplift?
Sagging or drooping of the breasts occurs when the skin and ligaments of the breast are stretched, therefore providing less support to the breast tissue. This can occur as a result of pregnancy, breastfeeding, significant weight changes or ageing and gravity.
A breast uplift can reverse these effects by:
- Lifting the breasts
- Giving the breasts a firmer and more youthful look
- Increasing body confidence and self-esteem
Ideally, you should reach your target weight and complete your family before having surgery. This is because significant weight changes, pregnancy and breastfeeding can all affect the results of your breast uplift.
What can a breast uplift achieve?
A breast uplift aims to:
- Remove excess skin
- Remodel the breast tissue to enhance its contour
- Adjust the position of the areola
- Reshape or reduce the size of the areola if necessary
A breast uplift will not significantly change the size of your breasts. However in order to achieve the best aesthetic result, your surgeon may suggest that you combine your breast uplift with a breast enlargement. This is because a breast implant is sometimes needed to help create a fuller upper pole of the breast, which a breast uplift alone may not be able to do.
Optimising your health will increase your suitability for a breast uplift. You can do this by: exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing alcohol intake and most importantly, stopping smoking.
How is a breast uplift procedure performed?
A breast uplift procedure takes 1.5 to 3 hours to perform. Before your operation, you must make sure you follow the instructions given for drinking, eating and taking your medications the night before.
A breast uplift procedure will involve the following steps:
1. Consent form
When you arrive to the hospital, you will meet your anaesthetist and surgeon to sign a consent form for surgery. This will happen on the day of your operation, or a week before, during your pre-operative assessment.
After you have signed the consent form, your surgeon will draw marks on your breasts and describe the exact goals of the operation.
You will have your anaesthetic administered by your anaesthetist. The anaesthetist may either use a general anaesthetic, or a local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation. The anaesthetic they use will depend on what you have agreed upon with your surgeon during your consultation.
Your surgeon will clean your skin and drape it. They will then make the surgical incisions in the areas discussed.
There are a number of different incisions a surgeon may use for a breast uplift. They are all likely to affect breast sensation and breastfeeding to varying degrees. Each incision will produce a different scar, but the scars should not be visible outside of your bra or bikini top.
Your surgeon will discuss with you which incision method is best for your breasts. They will take into account your: breast size, breast shape, areola size and position, degree of breast sagging and the skin quality and quantity.
The different types of breast uplift incisions include:
If you have a very small degree of breast sagging, your surgeon may use a periareolar incision. Surgeons however, do not often use this incision as it cannot achieve a large degree of lift.
If you have mild breast sagging, your surgeon may use a circumareolar incision for your breast uplift. This technique is also not commonly used as it achieves only a small degree of lift.
A vertical incision is the most commonly used technique. It is used when there is moderate sagging of the breast, as it allows for a greater lift of the breast and more excess skin to be removed.
A surgeon may use an inverted-T incision to correct a significant amount of breast sagging. They will use this technique for large breasts, sometimes in combination with a breast reduction.
4. Closing of incisions
Your surgeon will then close the incision they have made. They will then apply a dressing over the incision. They may put surgical drains in below the skin. These drains help reduce swelling and bruising. Your surgeon will most likely remove them before you leave the hospital.
6. Return to the ward
You will go back to the ward to recover from the anaesthetic, and be able to return home the same day or the following day.
After your surgery, you will be able to see a change in your breasts instantly. It may however, take 6 to 12 months before you are able to appreciate the full cosmetic result of your breast uplift procedure.
What should I expect during my breast uplift consultation?
Your breast uplift consultation will usually last between 15 minutes to 1 hour. Your surgeon will discuss the following topics with you:
- Why you want to have a breast uplift
- Your expectations from surgery
- Any family history or personal history of breast cancer
- Current or past medical conditions and allergies you might have
- Past or current surgical procedures
- Any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements you are currently taking
- Results of any biopsies or mammograms you might have had
- Any tobacco, alcohol or recreational drug use
After discussing these topics with you, your surgeon will then examine your breasts. This may include your surgeon taking detailed measurements of your breasts’ shape, size, skin quality and position of the nipples and areolas. Your surgeon will then take confidential photographs of your breasts, and discuss your treatment options.
When recommending a treatment, your surgeon will consider the following:
- Your current breast shape and size
- The breast size and shape you want
- The quality and quantity of your skin and breast tissue
Finally, your surgeon will discuss the risks and complications of a breast uplift so that you can make a fully informed decision. It is essential that you understand the potential risks before you give consent for surgery.
Questions to ask during your breast uplift consultation
During your breast uplift consultation, it may be beneficial for you to ask your surgeon these important questions:
- Is what I want to achieve from surgery realistic?
- What can I do to get the best results?
- Where will my scars be located?
- Can I see before and after pictures of similar operations you have done?
Our Avrupamed surgeons want to help you achieve the best results possible from your breast uplift. You should therefore be as honest and candid as possible about what you would like to achieve. Your surgeon will help you explore if what you want to achieve is possible or not.
Risks & complications
What are the main breast uplift risks and complications?
As with any surgery, a breast uplift carries certain risks and complications that you need to be aware of before your procedure. The breast uplift risks and complications include the following:
Bleeding & bruising
It is common to experience mild bleeding and bruising after your operation. In some cases however, some patients may experience more severe bleeding. If this does occur, the breast will become swollen and feel very tight. You will most likely need to have further surgery to correct the bleed, and you may therefore need to spend another night in hospital. If your surgeon treats the bleed promptly, it is unlikely to negatively affect the results of your breast uplift.
A breast uplift procedure requires your surgeon to make incisions on the skin. This means that scarring is unavoidable, however in most cases the scars are mild and will fade with time. Certain patients may be at risk of developing more severe scars called hypertrophic scars or keloid scars.
There is always a risk that you may develop an infection after any type of surgery. Usually, these infections are mild wound infections that can be treated with antibiotics. Despite this, it is still important to flag up any signs of infection to your surgeon. These include:
- A high temperature (over 38°C)
- Redness around your scar that begins to spread away from the scar
- Foul smelling or pus-like fluid coming from the incision line or the drains
- Pain or discomfort that is not relieved by pain medication
It is very important to alert your surgeon if you notice any of these symptoms.
Numbness or altered sensations
One of the most common breast uplift risks is the feeling of numbness or altered sensation in the breasts. This can be either an increased or reduced level of sensitivity around the incision line, areola or nipple.
If you experience numbness or oversensitivity, this will usually settle down over time. It can however, take several months before your skin sensation is back to normal. In some rare cases, these altered sensations can persist and become permanent after surgery.
There is a chance that during surgery, the blood supply to the nipples, skin, fat or breast tissue may be lost. The areas that lose their blood supply may die. The death of any of these tissues is called ‘necrosis’. Although this is more likely to occur in smokers, it is one of the rarest breast uplift risks, and is therefore unlikely to occur. If you develop tissue necrosis, your surgeon will need to preform another procedure to remove the dead tissue.
Another risk that may develop is a seroma. This is a pocket of fluid that usually develops 7 to 10 days are surgery. A seroma often develops below the skin around the incision line. The affected area will feel swollen or it may feel like there is fluid underneath the skin. Seromas can increase the time it will take you to recover, but they often resolve on their own. In some cases however, the surgeon may need to drain the fluid.
Over time, ageing and gravity may affect the results of your breast uplift. Both factors may cause the breasts to begin to droop down again.
As with any surgery, there is always a risk that you may be unsatisfied with the results of your breast uplift. You may be unhappy with the size, shape or symmetry of the breasts after your surgery.
Your surgeon will discuss all the breast uplift risks and complications with you during your consultation.
Preparing for your treatment
How can I prepare for a breast uplift?
It is important that you prepare well before you have your breast uplift. We recommend the following tips to help with your breast uplift preparation:
Immediately after your breast uplift, you will not be allowed to drive your car. Your surgeon may instruct you to wait 5 days to 2 weeks before you start driving again. It is therefore important to arrange for a friend or family member to escort you home after you have your surgery. The Medbelle team can also help you with your travel arrangements!
You will also need adult supervision for the first 24 hours after your breast uplift. This is because you may still be effected by the anaesthetic and painkillers in this time period.
Sleep & rest
After your breast uplift, you may be more comfortable sleeping propped up. You should therefore have extra pillows on your bed, and rest and sleep on your back in an inclined position for the first few days.
It is important for you to get plenty of rest after your surgery. You must however, be mobile and take occasional light walks around the house. Doing this helps reduce the risk of developing a blood clot in your legs.
Household items & chores
You should put hard-to-reach cupboard items like crockery, mugs and dry food on the kitchen counter before surgery. This prevents you from placing strain on your incisions by having to reach for items.
It may also be handy to clean the house, do your laundry and take out the bins before the day of your procedure.
As you will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while after your surgery, you should do a grocery shop the day before. It may also be useful to cool some meals and keep them in the freezer, so that you do not need to worry about cooking either.
Children & pets
To help with your recovery, you should ask family and friends to help look after pets and young children.
It is important to maintain a healthy diet after surgery. You should have high-protein, low-sodium meals that include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure to drink lots of water and caffeine-free beverages. Try to avoid any food and drinks that contain high amounts of salt and sugar.
It will be more comfortable for you to wear clothing that opens from the front in the first few days after surgery. Wearing slip-on shoes may also help recovery as they don’t require you to bend over. Your surgeon will tell you if you need to bring a post-operative bra with you on the day of your surgery.
In order to reduce the risk of complications during and after your breast uplift, our Avrupamed surgeons promote the following advice:
- A high BMI, excessive alcohol intake, smoking and recreational drug use (whether medicinal or recreational), all increase the risk of complications developing. Smoking in particular increases the risk of infection and delays the wound healing process. Our surgeons therefore advise you to stop smoking and using all nicotine products for at least 6 weeks before your surgery.
- There are also many homeopathic medications available over the counter that can negatively affect the outcome of your procedure. These medications can include, but are not limited to, those containing: ginger, ginkgo, cod liver oil, Aspirin, St John’s Wort and many different multivitamins.
- You should therefore stop taking all homeopathic medication 2 weeks before having your surgery. This reduces the risk of post-operative bleeding, excessive bruising and haematoma formation.
Your breast uplift preparation will help in making sure you are fit enough for surgery.
What can I expect after a breast uplift?
After you have had your breast uplift, your surgeon will talk you through the breast uplift aftercare process.
You should be able to return home either on the same day or the day after your breast uplift procedure. Before you go home, you will be given a post-operative appointment date. During your post-operative appointment, your surgeon will remove any non-dissolvable stitches, examine your breasts and address any surgical complications.
Your surgeon will give specific instructions for your breast uplift aftercare process, including timeframes and advice regarding:
- Time off work
- Sports & exercise
- Showering & bathing
Different surgeons will give different timeframes and advice. It is therefore important to follow the specific advice that your surgeon gives you, as this is individual to you and your breast uplift recovery.
Time off work
The amount of time you will need to take off work after your breast uplift depends on the type of job you have. If your work involves a lot of physical activity, for example taking care of children or waitressing, you may have to take up to 2 weeks off work. If however, it does not involve a lot of physical activity, for example, an office job, you may only need to take 1 week off work. In any case, try to avoid even light duties for 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery.
Return to sports & exercise
Although you will need to get plenty of rest after your breast uplift, you must make sure that you do not stay in bed all day. It is important for you to take occasional light walks. This reduces the risk of you developing blood clots in the leg after your surgery.
Although we recommend for you to be mobile, it is important to adhere to your surgeon’s specific advice regarding sports & exercise. The general guidelines are as follows:
Week 1 – 2
During the first two weeks, do not do any exercise at all. Even minor aerobic exercises can increase your swelling and result in longer recovery times.
Week 2 – 6
After 2 weeks, you should be able to continue with sports that do not involve a lot of vigorous movement, for example, cycling.
After week 6
6 weeks after your breast uplift, you should be able to resume all kinds of sports and exercise again.
After your breast uplift, your surgeon will ask you to wear a post-operative bra for a period of 2 to 5 weeks. This is a very important part of your breast uplift aftercare. The type of bra you will need and how long you need to wear it for will depend on what your surgeon recommends. The bra will help reduce swelling after the breast uplift and help achieve the best result possible.
Due to the side effects of anaesthesia, you will not be able to drive immediately after your procedure. You must, therefore, arrange for a family member or friend to escort you home. For your safety, it is advised that you are supervised for the first 24 hours after your surgery.
Your surgeon may recommend a number of different techniques to aid the healing of your scars. These techniques can include the following:
- Scar massage – gently massaging your scar after your incisions have fully healed may help promote healing.
- Silicone creams/gels/sheets – using silicone based products for 6 to 12 months after surgery can help reduce the appearance of your scars. It is important that you wait until your incision has fully healed before you apply the silicone products to your scar.
- Avoid exposing your scars to sunbeds and sunlight. If you are in the sun, make sure you use high-factor sunscreen to protect the healing skin and avoid darkening your scar.
You will be able to see an immediate change in your breasts after your breast uplift. It may, however, take 6 to 12 months before you are able to appreciate the full cosmetic results of your breast uplift surgery.
Remember that the exact recovery times will vary for each individual patient. You must, therefore, follow the instructions that your surgeon gives you.
It is important for you to research your breast uplift procedure well before deciding to go ahead with surgery. Common breast uplift FAQs include the following:
How much time do I have to take off work after a breast uplift?
The amount of time you need to take off depends on the type of job you have. If your work involves lots of physical activity, you may need to take up to 2 weeks off. If however, it doesn’t, then you will need to take only 1 week off.
Will a breast uplift effect my ability to breastfeed?
As all breast uplift procedures require an incision to be made around the nipple, some of the milk ducts, glands or nerves may be damaged. This can mean that some women may find that they have more difficulty breastfeeding, and may produce less milk after a breast uplift. The chances are high that you will still be able to breastfeed after your breast uplift, on the assumption that you were able to breastfeed before surgery. If you have any plans to become pregnant or breastfeed after your operation, you must discuss this with your surgeon.
If you’ve recently had a baby and are currently breastfeeding, your surgeon may ask that you stop breastfeeding 3 to 6 months before your breast uplift.
How long after breastfeeding must I wait to have a breast uplift?
If you’ve recently had a baby and are currently breastfeeding, your surgeon may ask that you stop breastfeeding 3 to 6 months before your breast uplift. This allows enough time for your breasts to settle before the surgery.
How long after pregnancy must I wait to have a breast uplift?
If you have recently had a baby, your surgeon may ask that you wait 3 to 6 months before having your breast uplift surgery.
Do I need a GP referral for a breast uplift?
Your surgeon will usually be happy to see you without a referral letter from your GP. They may however, ask to contact your GP for details regarding your medical history and care.
Is a breast uplift available on the NHS?
As a breast uplift is a cosmetic procedure, it is not usually available on the NHS.
What is the effect of drugs and alcohol on a breast uplift?
Smoking, consuming large amounts of alcohol or taking recreational drugs, can increase the risk of complications. Our Avrupamed surgeons require you to stop smoking and using all nicotine products for a minimum of 6 weeks before surgery.
What effect will weight gain or loss have after my breast uplift?
Any significant weight changes that occur after your breast uplift can affect the results of your procedure. This effect will however, vary from patient to patient.
If there are questions that have not been answered in this breast uplift FAQs page, give us a call.