Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

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The Breast lift surgery, also known as mastopexy, is a procedure designed to reposition the breasts to a higher, more youthful position on the chest. Breast lift surgery may be done in conjunction with breast augmentation, using saline or silicone gel breast implants to help lift the bust by increasing the volume of the breasts.

If you are considering a breast lift to enhance the shape of your breasts, the following information is a great introduction to this plastic surgery procedure. For a more detailed explanation about how a breast lift may benefit you, we recommend that you consult a skilled plastic surgeon.


*The 2012 national average cost of Breast Lift was $4,332.

Breast Lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure with Long-lasting results.

Mastopexy is the medical term used to describe Breast Lift.









  1. What are some of the most common benefits of breast lift surgery?
  2. How is breast lift surgery done?
  3. The Concentric (doughnut) Breast Lift:
  4. Anchor-shaped Breast Lift:
  5. How long does the breast lift procedure take?
  6. Do I have to stay in the hospital?
  7. What can I expect after a breast lift?
  8. What is the recovery period like?
  9. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  10. Ideal candidate:
  11. Risks:


What are some of the most common benefits of breast lift surgery?

A breast lift can successfully reposition saggy, droopy breasts into firmer, shapelier ones that are located higher on a woman's chest. As a result, a better-proportioned body is produced, enhancing the patient's appearance and potentially elevating her self-esteem.

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How is breast lift surgery done?

Several different techniques can be used during breast lift surgery, depending on the degree of sagging that you experience. Breast lift surgery consists of removing excess skin from around the areola, and possibly also from the bottom of the breast, and then tightening the skin. The insertion of breast implants for additional volume and smoothing of the skin may also be required for an optimal outcome. With these surgical steps, the position of the nipple, areola, and breasts can be elevated to a more youthful position.

The specific breast lift techniques may vary, but they generally fall into two categories: the concentric (or doughnut) mastopexy for women with smaller and less droopy breasts, and the more common anchor-shaped mastopexy. In general, the more tissue that is cut, the more shaping that is possible. For women who experience extensive sagging, the skin has stretched so much that a smaller incision will not remove enough tissue to lift the breast. In these cases, the larger incision is necessary.

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The Concentric (doughnut) Breast Lift:

For women with smaller and less severely drooping breasts, this procedure (which requires fewer incisions) may be possible. In some instances, the physician may administer a local anesthesia with a sedative instead of general anesthesia.

Concentric circles (like a doughnut) around the areola are drawn and cut. The doughnut-shaped skin around the areola is removed and the nipple and areola repositioned higher. Then, the outer skin is stitched around the areola. Sometimes the skin that is sewn to the areola may wrinkle because there is more skin than needed. Often, the wrinkling will subside in just a few weeks to months after surgery as the skin envelope adapts to the new shape and weight of the tissues.

If your surgeon does not think that this technique will produce the desired results, he/she may instead elect to make a cut that descends from the areola down to the bottom fold of the breast where it meets the chest. A strip of skin is removed along this cut and the two sides stitched together. Even with this additional vertical cut, these breast lift scars are less extensive than the more common anchor-shaped breast lift.

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Anchor-shaped Breast Lift:

For women with larger or more severely drooping, sagging breasts, the anchor-shaped breast lift surgery is more effective.

The physician will draw a key-hole shape above the nipple and areola. At the bottom of the key-hole, he/she will draw an anchor shape from the right to the left side of the breast.

The skin in the (upper cross-hatched) area of the "anchor" will be removed along with some excess breast tissue. The nipple and areola are moved up to the (lower cross-hatched) "key-hole," then the skin is sutured around the areola, vertically down to the chest, and side to side along the newly-created bottom fold of the breast.

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How long does the breast lift procedure take?

Breast lift surgery usually takes about one to three hours to complete. The length of the procedure varies according to the technique used.

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Do I have to stay in the hospital?

Usually, breast lift surgery is performed in a surgical suite on an outpatient basis, so an overnight visit isn't necessary. This allows you to return home within a few hours of the surgery, and spend the night in the comfort of your own home. However, if a large amount of tissue is removed from the breasts, it may be necessary to spend the night in the hospital so your recovery process can be monitored by a medical staff.

Most often, breast lift surgery is carried out under general anesthesia. If the procedure requires fewer incisions, a patient may be given a local anesthetic combined with intravenous sedation under observed anesthesia care.

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What can I expect after a breast lift?

After the operation, you will notice an immediate and dramatic change in the shape of your breasts. Most women are very pleased with what they see after surgery. Some numbness is normal after surgery and may persist permanently.

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What is the recovery period like?

Your breasts will probably be sore for two or three days. The pain is greatest within the first 48 hours, but improves with each day and can typically be relieved by pain medications.

The gauze dressing will be removed after a couple of days, and the stitches are removed about two weeks after breast lift surgery. Your breasts will be bruised, and you may experience temporary numbness around the nipples as well as random shooting pains. These conditions generally subside within several weeks.

For the first few days, you need to limit your activities and movement in order to prevent breaking the stitches and stretching the breast lift scars. Most women can return to work about two weeks later, although overhead lifting and strenuous movements should be avoided for several weeks to ensure proper healing. Your physician will provide you with a schedule for resuming your normal routines.

You will wear a surgical bra that supplies support to your breasts for a few weeks to a couple of months after your breast lift surgery (an under wire bra is not recommended as it may cause a blister on the delicate postoperative tissues).

Most bruising, swelling, pain, and loss of sensation should subside within three to six weeks. However, it may take up to a year for your breasts to settle completely into their new look and feel. Over time, your breast lift scars will fade but may remain red and bumpy for many months.

Finally, you should continue with monthly self-examinations for breast cancer as well as regular mammograms as advised by your doctor.

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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

After the surgery, the breasts are fuller and shapelier. Breast lift surgery generally yields faint lines where the surgical incisions were made. You may also notice slight size or shape differences between your breasts. It is important to keep in mind that the body is never completely symmetrical.

A breast lift will not keep you firm forever. Your breasts, however, will be more youthful and full than they would have been without the surgery. The effects of gravity, pregnancy, and weight changes will continue to affect your breasts over time.

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Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for breast lift surgery are women:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • With stretched skin
  • With less breast volume than they had in previous years
  • Not intending to lose a great deal of weight, get pregnant, or breastfeed
  • Not currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • In good health
  • Wanting to improve their appearance
  • Realistic in their expectations

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he/she considers you an ideal candidate for breast lift surgery.

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Breast Lift Risks:

No surgical procedure is completely risk-free. There is the potential for complications associated with any surgery involving anesthesia, including complications such as bleeding, and infection. The patient is also susceptible to:

  • Permanent and noticeable scarring
  • Unevenly aligned nipples, mismatched breasts
  • Sores or numbness around the nipples
  • Dead tissue around the nipple and areola (rare)

Perhaps the most common risks are the quality of healing and your acceptance of the resulting scars. With a breast lift, the most significant tradeoff for better-positioned breasts is the appearance and permanence of the surgical scars that may take some time before they flatten and become pale.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may vary depending the extensiveness of the procedure, location, and other factors. Costs are provided solely for research purposes. For specific estimates, please contact a qualified plastic surgeon. 

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