As time passes, the shape and position of a woman's breasts change. The drooping and flattening of natural breast tissue can be one of the most dissatisfying aspects of aging. While the right bra can support breast tissue and provide the illusion of shapeliness and perkiness, it does just that, creates an illusion. Breast lift surgery is a gratifying plastic surgery procedure that reshapes the breasts by lifting and tightening the skin and tissue that hold the breast mound. With an abundance of training and experience, the West End Plastic Surgery team performs breast lifts that restore natural, gorgeous proportions.
What is a Breast Lift?
Breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that raises and shapes sagging breasts. The procedure can also reduce the size of the darker area around your nipples, the areola, which may have become enlarged due to pregnancy or breastfeeding. A breast lift performed at the Washington, D.C. practice of Dr. Paul G. Ruff IV, Dr. Catherine Hannan and Dr. Lauren Patrick provides you with breasts that appear more youthful and perky.
Reasons For Breast Lift Surgery
Women seek breast lifts at West End Plastic Surgery to improve the look of breasts that are sagging due to:
- A genetic predisposition for sagging breasts
Are You A Good Candidate For Mastopexy?
Breasts of any size may be lifted with mastopexy; however, better results are generally achieved with smaller breasts. It’s also not unusual for women to need breast reduction surgery. That can help ensure larger breasts don’t sag again after getting lifted. It is also worth noting that if you plan to get pregnant, it is usually better to wait until after your pregnancy to undergo a breast lift. This is so that any additional stretching caused by the pregnancy or breastfeeding can be corrected.
We’re as thrilled with our patients’ results as they are. Check out our before-and-after photo gallery and see for yourself the kind of work our talented surgeons do.
Your surgeon and the team at West End Plastic Surgery will:
- Review the various breast lift options with you
- Discuss other procedures such as breast augmentation or breast reduction that you may want to consider to enhance your breasts
- Clearly discuss the potential risks of the procedure
- Outline in detail how the surgery is performed and what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure
- Provide detailed cost and payment information
- Answer all your questions
You will be asked to provide:
- Details about your medical history
- A list of all medications you currently take, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, vitamins, and herbal supplements
- Information regarding your tobacco and alcohol use
In addition, you will need to have a mammogram before your surgery to ensure that your breasts are healthy. The staff at West End Plastic Surgery will refer you to a mammography center if needed.
The Breast Lift Procedure
Prior to your surgery, you will have an initial evaluation and consultation with your surgeon and the team at West End Plastic Surgery. The purpose of this initial meeting is to make sure you are a good candidate for mastopexy and to ensure that you understand and are comfortable with the procedure and understand how your breasts will look after the surgery.
Your mastopexy procedure is performed in our state-of-the-art surgical suite or at one of the area hospitals where our Board Certified Plastic Surgeons operate.
Your surgeon will make a small incision in each breast, usually around the nipple, areola, or in the crease under your breast. Your individual anatomy determines the best place to make the incision. However, the doctor makes every effort to place the incision in a position that minimizes any resulting scars. Multiple options for incision placement and final scar placement exist; your anatomy may make certain incision patterns more applicable. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you during your initial consultation.
Once the incision is made, the doctor will remove excess skin, reshape your breast, and reposition your nipple and areola. If you are also having breast augmentation, a breast implant will be inserted in a pocket of skin either under your breast or under your chest wall. Stitches are used to close the incision and generally extend in a vertical line down from the nipple and along the crease of the breast.
Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Surgery with Dr. Paul Ruff
How Long Does it Take To Perform a Breast Lift Procedure?
The procedure usually takes 2 to 4 hours to complete. You go home a few hours after your surgery is completed.
Results Of Breast Lift Surgery
Breast lift surgery will elevate your breasts, giving you a more youthful contour. It will also reposition your nipple and areola to a more desired size and height. However, a breast lift will not keep your breasts lifted indefinitely. The effects of aging, gravity, pregnancy, and weight changes will eventually cause your breasts to sag. The amount of “new” sagging is unpredictable and will vary among women. If you have breast augmentation along with your mastopexy, you may find that the results of your breast lift last longer.
Breast Lift Patient Testimonial
Less than three months ago, I had a procedure with Dr. Ruff and have been totally amazed by the results. Not only was my recovery an absolute breeze, Dr. Ruff’s bedside manner and professionalism were truly unparalleled. Never once did I feel rushed or disregarded when asking questions that I am sure Dr. Ruff has heard many, many times. In addition, the nurses and front office staff at West End Plastic Surgery have always been pleasant and very friendly; I honestly can’t say enough about them. – Teryl P.
Recovering From Breast Lift Surgery
After your surgery is completed, your breasts will be bandaged with gauze and a special surgical bra will be placed over your breasts to hold them in the best position for healing. In most cases, you will be ready to go home shortly after your breast lift procedure. You may be a bit sleepy after the anesthesia, so it is important to have someone drive you home after your surgery. You may also want to have someone stay with you for the first few days after the surgery.
|Shower or Bath||1 to 2 Days After Surgery|
|Back to Work||7 to 10 Days After Surgery|
|Driving||4 to 6 Days After Surgery|
|Physical Contact With Breasts||3 to 4 Weeks After Surgery|
|Strenuous Activity||4 to 5 Weeks After Surgery|
|Fading of Scars||Several Months to 1 Year|
The First 24 to 48 Hours After Breast Lift Surgery
During the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, you may feel tired from the anesthesia and sore from the surgery. The doctor will prescribe pain medication to alleviate most of the discomfort. Your discomfort level will improve rapidly after the first 2 days.
You may experience some minor bleeding around the incision line in your nipple area and under your breasts; this is perfectly normal. If you experience more than a slow staining of your gauze dressings, applying firm pressure to the area for 30 minutes will usually stop the bleeding. Call the staff at West End Plastic Surgery if the bleeding does not lessen or if the bleeding is heavy, which is very rare.
The First 2 Weeks After Mastopexy
You will notice a marked improvement in your discomfort level during the first few weeks after your surgery. Other things to be aware of:
The gauze dressings placed over your breasts will be removed a few days after your surgery. Once they are removed, you can take a shower or bath. After the dressings are removed, steri-strips will be placed over your incisions. In the coming days, if the steri-strips come loose, you can simply take them off.
Your first postoperative visit usually takes place 2 to 3 days after surgery. Subsequent visits are scheduled every 1 to 2 weeks for the first 6 weeks and then every 1 to 2 months for the next 6 months. Your stitches will be removed within 10 to 20 days after surgery.
You may have tingling, burning, or shooting pains in your breasts as your sensory nerves heal after surgery. These sensations are completely normal and will go away in time. Talk with the doctor about pain medication if the discomfort bothers you. Any bruising you experience will usually disappear in about 2 weeks. You can expect some numbness in your nipples and breast skin. This numbness is caused by the swelling of your breasts after surgery. The numbness usually disappears within 6 weeks of surgery. Some patients experience a burning sensation in their nipples, which generally disappears within 7 to 14 days after surgery.
You should sleep on your back for the first week after surgery to help keep your breasts in the best position possible during initial healing. Placing pillows on either side of your body often helps ensure that you do not roll onto your side while sleeping.
During the first 3 weeks after surgery, you should also wear the special surgical bra placed over your breasts after surgery for the first few days and then wear the softer support bra provided by West End Plastic Surgery at all times. The bra should be worn even while sleeping to help hold your breasts in the correct position. You may take the bra off to shower or bathe, but you must put it back on immediately after drying off. If the bra is too tight, call the staff at West End Plastic Surgery immediately — bras that are too tight can cause skin problems.
When Can I Resume My Normal Routine After My Breast Lift?
Everyone heals at different rates, and you are the best judge of when you are ready for certain activities, but the following are general guidelines:
- You can most likely return to work or school within 7 to 10 days of your surgery, depending on how you feel, unless your work requires strenuous physical activity.
- You can resume driving in 4 to 6 days as long as you experience no pain when you turn the steering wheel.
- You should avoid sex for at least the first week after your surgery.
- Two weeks after surgery, you can begin to sleep without the special elastic bra you’ve been wearing. However, you should continue to wear this bra during the day for 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.
- Do not go without a bra for at least 6 weeks after your surgery. When you begin to wear your own bras again, you will probably be more comfortable wearing a bra without underwire support until your incisions are completely healed.
- Strenuous exercise can begin about 4 to 5 weeks after your surgery, but remember that everyone heals at different rates, so take these activities slowly until you feel ready. Our patients are encouraged to plan an exercise program and discuss it with the staff prior to resuming exercise.
- The scars on your breasts should be protected from sunlight for at least a year after surgery.
Will My Insurance Coverage Pay for My Breast Lift?
Because a breast lift is considered a cosmetic procedure, it is not covered by insurance. You are responsible for the full payment for your procedure. Cost and payment options will be discussed fully with you at your initial consultation.
How Long Will It Take for The Results of A Breast Lift to Settle?
The results of breast lift surgery are immediately visible. However, early results are not a true indication of what to expect. Initially, swelling and tissue tightness can make the breasts look very perky. Over several weeks, these side effects diminish and the breasts gradually settle into their naturally lifted position and shape. The entire process can take up to one year. Because settling happens day by day, the cosmetic changes that occur are subtle and natural-looking.
How Long Will the Results of My Breast Lift Last?
A breast lift does not stop the aging process, nor the effects of gravity, but it can reset the clock, so to speak. Patients can enjoy the results of their lift procedure for 10 to 15 years or even longer. Several variables may affect the longevity of the lift results, including lifestyle habits, weight, and age at the time of the breast lift.
Will I Lose Feeling in My Breasts After Surgery?
It is not uncommon for patients to notice some degree of sensation loss after a breast lift. This is usually limited to numbness around the nipple. Sensation usually begins to return a few weeks after surgery. There is a minor risk of prolonged numbness or relative loss of sensation and, even in successful cases, it can take up to a year for sensation to completely return.
Will a Breast Lift Impact My Ability to Breastfeed?
Studies indicate that patients who are able to breastfeed before mastopexy should retain that ability after their lift. The breast lift generally focuses on superficial tissue and the skin. It is not likely to affect milk glands and ducts, so there is very little concern about breastfeeding difficulties in the future.
How to Prepare for A Breast Lift?
Steps taken before breast lift surgery can support optimal recovery and lasting improvements. Patients can expect to receive written pre-surgical instructions that discuss details like taking time off work, getting support around the house, and picking up prescriptions and supplies before the day of surgery. Patients may also need to schedule certain pre-operative tests, such as a mammogram. Additionally, there are ways to prepare the body for the healthiest possible recovery. Suggestions include:
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use, as these habits can significantly impair healing.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of bleeding and bruising.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet to promote optimal tissue healing through vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Be active. While it is necessary to avoid strenuous physical activity even before surgery, it can be helpful to perform stretching exercises and low-weight strength training that builds good upper-body posture.
How Safe Is the Breast Lift Procedure?
Mastopexy is considered a very safe plastic surgery procedure with minimal risks for complications. That said, a breast lift should only be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon with direct experience using breast lift techniques. In the hands of a qualified plastic surgeon, the breast lift can be safe and immensely satisfying. As a surgical procedure, the breast lift does carry minor risks such as bleeding, infection, asymmetry, and poor wound healing. During your consultation, you can expect your doctor to discuss all risks that are relevant to your case and also to sit with you and answer questions you may have.
Risks may include the following:
- Changes in sensation
Side Effects Of Mastopexy
Like all surgical procedures, there are risks associated with breast lift surgery. During your pre-surgery consultation with Dr. Ruff, your individual risks will be assessed and discussed, and it will be determined whether you are a good candidate for mastopexy. As with any surgery, you can help reduce the risks associated with your breast lift surgery by closely following the instructions provided to you by the staff of West End Plastic Surgery. Dr. Ruff and his staff will be with you every step of the way to ensure a safe and pleasing outcome.
Risks may include the following:
- Changes in sensation
Alternatives To Breast Lift
Depending on the amount of ptosis or sag, breast augmentation alone may provide an acceptable cosmetic alternative. However, if the nipple-areola complex is too low and the skin is of poor elastic quality, a breast lift is the only way to achieve a more youthful breast shape.