Patients are often most interested in having a breast lift after pregnancy, breastfeeding or significant weight loss. Some patients also naturally have less lifted breasts than they would like or find that their breasts have sagged over time.
- Women who are a good fit for breast lift often have:
- Breasts that are pendulous (hang down) but are happy with their breast volume
- Breasts that are lacking in firmness
- Nipples and areolas that point downward
- Breasts that are asymmetric
- Breasts that are relatively small (larger and heavier breasts can also be lifted, but the results may not be as long-lasting. The weight of larger breasts works against surgical changes)
- Finished with childbearing and breastfeeding (pregnancy may further stretch the breasts and reduce volume, also working against surgical changes)
Patients with unrealistic expectations that are not in good health are not a fit for breast lift surgery. Breasts should also be fully developed before breast lift is performed. Additionally, anyone whose weight is fluctuating would not be an ideal candidate, as breast size is likely to fluctuate as well, making the results of the procedure last a shorter amount of time.
Otherwise, just as in breast augmentation, you are also not a candidate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are planning on having children in the future, you may also not be an ideal candidate because you may have to return to have another lift in the future (changes may occur in your body during pregnancy).
Some surgeons require that you have a mammogram before surgery, especially if you are over 40 and have never had a mammogram. This is to make sure that you do not have a preexisting condition that could complicate the procedure. Otherwise, preparations are simple.
Here is an overview (non-exhaustive):
- Do not take any blood thinners for at least 10 days prior to surgery (these include Advil, aspirin and Ibuprofen)
- Stop smoking at least 4 weeks before surgery — smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, which can interfere with healing
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Do not wear nail polish, contact lenses, makeup, or jewelry (or any accessories containing metal)
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Recovery after breast lift is usually fairly swift — patients usually recover in less than a week. It does not even require an overnight stay at the hospital. Most women are able to return to normal activities in 7 to 10 days and usually need no more than a week off from work. Patients should avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the first week after surgery and aim to keep their elbows near their sides. After 3-6 months, the scar will already be very close to the final result. Many doctors have specific scar massage protocol to speed and ensure proper healing. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications related to infection or reaction to anesthesia. A proper assessment of every patient, along with complete lab work, will help prevent postoperative complications.
Risks of breast lift are similar to other surgical procedures. They include infection, the risks of being under general anaesthesia (risk of cardiac arrest or stroke), bleeding (hematoma), and blood clots. Unfavorable scarring at the site of surgery may occur. As with many surgeries, there is a risk of damaging deeper structures such as fatty tissue, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels, though minimal with a skilled surgeon.
Breast-related surgeries share common risks, which include:
- Breast pain
- Breast asymmetry
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Changes in nipple/breast sensation
- Fluid accumulation
- Potential loss of skin or tissue where incisions meet
- Potential loss of nipple and areola (partial or total)
- Skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, swelling and bruising
- Diminished ability to breastfeed
- Possibility of revisional surgery