Over the years, factors such as pregnancy, nursing, and the force of gravity change a woman's breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. Breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts. Although, no surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity. Breast lift surgery may also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume, breast implants placed in conjunction with mastopexy can increase both firmness and size.
THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR BREAST LIFT
The best candidates for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally-stable women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts. Many women seek breast lift surgery because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you're planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift. While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example, mastopexy usually doesn't interfere with breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and alter the results of the procedure.
ALL SURGERY CARRIES SOME UNCERTAINTY AND RISK
A breast lift is normally safe when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following Dr. Baroody's advice both before and after surgery. Because the excess skin is removed, breast lifts leave noticeable, permanent scars, although they will be covered by your bra or bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.
PLANNING YOUR SURGERY
In your initial consultation, it's important to discuss your expectations frankly with Dr. Baroody, and consider his opinion. Patients have different views of what defines a desirable size and breast shape. Dr. Baroody will examine and measure your breasts while you're sitting or standing. He will discuss the variables that may affect the procedure; such as your age, the size/shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin. These factors will determine whether an implant is advisable. Do not hesitate to ask Dr. Baroody any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
PREPARING FOR YOUR SURGERY
Depending on your age and family history, Dr. Baroody may require you to have a mammogram prior to surgery. You will also receive specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and avoiding certain vitamins/medications. While you are making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.
WHERE YOUR SURGERY WILL BE PERFORMED
Dr. Baroody performs the procedure in both hospital and outpatient settings. Breast lift surgery may be performed in New Milford Hospital or the Orthopaedic and Specialty Surgery Center. Danbury Hospital does not offer cosmetic procedures.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA
Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep through the operation. In selected patients, particularly when a smaller incision is being made, Dr. Baroody may use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You will be awake but relaxed.
Breast lift usually takes 2.5 to 3 hours. Techniques vary, but the most common procedure involves an incision around the areola with a vertical incision. (lollipop scar) The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position. The skin surrounding the areola is then brought down and together to reshape the breast. Dr. Baroody also rearranges the breast tissue to improve projection of the breast. He uses a unique technique that uses your own breast tissue in place of an implant to give a longer lasting result compared to other more commonly used techniques. Absorbable stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downwards from the nipple area, and possibly along the lower crease of the breast. If implants are required, they will be inserted along with your breast lift. They will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue or beneath the muscle of the chest wall.
AFTER YOUR SURGERY
After surgery, you will wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain should not be severe. Any discomfort you feel can be relieved with prescribed medications. If the pain is much more severe on one side compared to the other notify Dr. Baroody immediately.
Within a couple of days, the bandages will be replaced by a surgical bra. You will need to wear this bra around the clock for three to four weeks. If your breast skin is very dry following surgery, you may apply a moisturizer several times a day. Be careful not to tug at your skin in the process, and keep the moisturizer away from the suture areas. Expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused by the swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling subsides over the next several weeks. In some patients, however, it may last a year or more, and occasionally may be permanent.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Healing is a gradual process. Although you may be up and about in a day or two, do not plan on returning to work for a week or more. Avoid lifting heavy objects for three to four weeks. If you have any unusual symptoms, do not hesitate to call Dr. Baroody. Dr. Baroody will give you detailed instructions for resuming your normal activities. Avoid sexual activity for a week or more, and avoid strenuous sports for about a month. After that, you may resume these activities slowly.
YOUR NEW LOOK
Dr. Baroody will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible. Still, it's important to remember that breast lift scars are extensive and permanent. They often remain lumpy and red for months, then gradually become less obvious, sometimes eventually fading to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars can usually be placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops. You should also keep in mind that a breast lift will not keep you firm forever; the effects of gravity, pregnancy, aging, and weight fluctuations will eventually take their toll again. Women who have implants along with their breast lift may find the results last longer.
Your satisfaction with a breast lift is likely to be greater if you understand the procedure thoroughly and if your expectations are realistic.