Over Twenty-Seven Years Experience as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Specializing in the Natural Look
Breast Augmentation Model

Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

Breast lift surgery is performed to elevate and reshape breasts that have begun to droop and sag. The procedure also restores fullness and volume so that breasts are firmer, rounder, and appear more youthful. Serving breast lift patients at our Santa Barbara practice, plastic surgeon Wesley Schooler, MD has built a reputation for creating beautiful, natural-looking results.

What is Mastopexy?

Over time, individuals often experience a number of physical changes as a result of gravity, weight fluctuation, pregnancy, nursing, and the natural aging process. For most women, this usually involves a combination of stretched breast skin and deflated breast volume, creating some degree of breast ptosis (sag). Breast lift surgery—medically referred to as mastopexy—is designed to combat these aesthetic concerns by elevating the breasts to a more central positioning and creating a younger-looking breast appearance as well as a rejuvenated body contour. There are a number of mastopexy techniques that can be employed, and the best approach for you will depend on the extent of lift necessary to achieve your goals. In any case, Dr. Schooler can tailor your surgical plan to improve the breast shape, positioning, and projection for natural-looking results.

Who is a Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?

Breast lift surgery (mastopexy) is a solution for women whose breasts have begun to lose their shape. This occurs over time as the skin loses its elasticity, and gravity causes the breasts to sag downwards. Pregnancy, breast-feeding, or significant weight loss can cause the breasts to droop— even in younger women. Breast lift surgery has helped many patients who have had children restore shapely breast contours. Older patients can also enjoy having the breast contours of younger women. Breast lift surgery should be postponed if you are planning on having children or on losing a significant amount of weight in the future. Having the surgery performed when you are near your ideal weight will allow a better result that will last longer.

Degrees of Breast Ptosis

A breast lift can be performed to correct “ptosis,” which occurs when the supportive structures of the breasts begin to grow lax, causing breast droop in varying degrees. Breast ptosis is usually categorized into three grades depending on the severity of drooping experienced:

  • Grade I: Considered the mildest form of ptosis, the nipples are typically at the same level as the breast crease while the lower breasts sag below the inframammary fold.
  • Grade II: The breasts and nipples droop below the inframammary fold; however, the nipples are not yet pointing downward.
  • Grade III: Characterized by significant sagging, the breasts and nipples are positioned below the inframammary fold and pointing downward.

During your consultation, Dr. Schooler will evaluate your concerns for breast ptosis and determine the most ideal mastopexy technique to restore a more rejuvenated, lifted appearance. This, along with the size of your breasts and your goals for the outcome, will influence the type of incision utilized for your procedure. In improving mild breast sag and/or addressing a loss in breast volume, Dr. Schooler may recommend placing breast implants at the same time as, or in place of, breast lift surgery to optimally restore the shape and contour of your breasts.

What are My Breast Lift Options?

A breast lift can be completed using several different incisions, which will be determined before your procedure based on your needs and the severity of your breast droop. Dr. Schooler will walk you through each technique and help you decide the best approach to rejuvenate your breast contours. The most common mastopexy procedures include:

  • Crescent Lift: Although utilized less frequently than other breast lift techniques, a crescent lift may be suitable for individuals with a very minor amount of breast sag to correct. This procedure requires a small crescent-shaped incision along the top border of the areola. 
  • Periareolar Lift: The periareolar technique is typically reserved for patients who want to improve mild breast sag. The incision is placed along the edge of the areolas, often allowing scarring to blend into the natural change in pigmentation. 
  • Vertical Lift: A vertical lift uses a keyhole- or lollipop-shaped incision that encircles the areolas and extends vertically toward the inframammary fold (breast crease). This is a common approach to mastopexy that can still achieve mild or modest scarring after the procedure. 
  • Inverted-T Lift or Full Mastopexy: For more advanced cases of ptosis or breast sag, a full breast lift may be the most ideal procedure. The incision is very similar to a vertical lift, except an added horizontal incision is placed along the natural breast crease. Patients who have particularly pendulous breasts or who desire a breast reduction with a lift may benefit from this approach.  

With all breast lift options, Dr. Schooler works to achieve the least conspicuous amount of scarring possible. Once you decide on an optimal breast lift technique, he will explain the procedure in depth and show you exactly where incisions will be made. 

How is the Breast Lift Procedure Performed?

Light general anesthesia is used so that no discomfort is felt during surgery. After making carefully-placed incisions, our plastic surgeon will trim away the excess skin and lift the nipple-areola to a higher, more youthful positioning. Occasionally, patients wish to have breast implants inserted during breast lift surgery to increase upper pole fullness. Some dramatic improvements are achieved by combining breast lift and breast augmentation in this manner. After removing loose and redundant skin, Dr. Schooler will reshape the remaining tissue. The incisions are carefully closed in layers to minimize scarring. The scars usually fade over time, and are rarely visible in swimsuits or lingerie.

I am grateful for the professionalism and skill you all exhibited. I am much happier with my appearance than prior to surgery.

What is Recovery from Breast Lift Surgery Like?

After mastopexy, a surgical bra or gauze will be worn to facilitate your new body contours. Some temporary bruising or swelling is expected, but these reactions are normal and should subside as recovery progresses. Oral pain medications can usually manage any discomfort. Most patients can return to normal activities in 10 to 14 days, although strenuous activity should be avoided until cleared by Dr. Schooler. Detailed information regarding post-operative care will be provided at the time of surgery. In general, adhering to Dr. Schooler’s instructions can help accelerate the recovery process. Once healed, patients generally report immense satisfaction at their youthful breast positioning and renewed aesthetic.

How Long Do Breast Lift Results Last?

Although a breast lift cannot stop the aging process, patients typically report very enduring mastopexy results as well as immense satisfaction regarding the longevity of the outcome. Since the procedure is designed to restore the breasts’ internal support structures, your rejuvenation can last for many years. To get the most out of your breast lift surgery, Dr. Schooler recommends pursuing a mastopexy only after you have no future plans for pregnancy or nursing. These events can cause a number of body transformations—including the development of loose skin and lax breast tissue—that may result in the same concerns you originally sought to correct.

Will I Have Visible Breast Lift Scars?

Scars can be an inescapable part of any surgery, but Dr. Schooler is very careful to place incisions discreetly whenever possible to limit the extent of noticeable scarring. Fortunately, scars from a breast lift can be easily concealed under a bra or bikini top, and are often camouflaged within the natural contours of the breasts. The most inconspicuous scarring involves an incision around the borders of the areola (periareolar), allowing the resulting scar to blend into the natural transition in pigmentation. Similarly, the inframammary incision is placed along the breast fold and usually well-integrated into the crease where the breasts meet the chest wall. All breast lift incisions can heal very well—especially with close adherence to Dr. Schooler’s post-operative instructions—and gradually fade to some extent over time.

How Much Does Breast Lift Surgery Cost?

Like all cosmetic surgeries, the cost of a mastopexy varies from patient to patient, depending on an individual’s unique needs and goals. General factors that can affect the price of a breast lift include the expertise of your plastic surgeon and the geographic location of treatment, but your cost estimate will ultimately be determined by the details of your treatment plan, such as:

  • The breast lift technique utilized
  • Whether implants were inserted at the time of surgery
  • Whether your breast lift was combined with other treatments
  • The overall complexity of your procedure

We strive to make cosmetic surgery affordable for a diverse range of patients, which is why we offer a number of breast surgery financing options. In addition, our practice accepts most major credit cards as well as money orders, personal checks, and cashier’s checks. If you would like to speak to a friendly member of our team about our financing plans or accepted modes of payment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

Can I Breastfeed After a Breast Lift?

It’s certainly possible to nurse after breast lift surgery; however, the likelihood of successful breastfeeding is dependent on your surgical goals and the technique necessary to rejuvenate your breasts. Please communicate your desires for future breastfeeding with Dr. Schooler so he can tailor the procedure to maximize your chances of nursing after surgery. It’s important to note that not every woman has the ability to breastfeed in the first place; therefore, mastopexy will not change this outcome. From an aesthetic standpoint, Dr. Schooler always suggests postponing mastopexy until after you have no intention of pregnancy and/or breastfeeding to preserve the integrity of your breast lift results.

Is a Non-Surgical Breast Lift Possible?

A mastopexy is the only way to restore shape and support to pendulous breasts, as non-surgical techniques are incapable of removing the excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue that cause the breasts to droop. For this, breast lift surgery is currently the only effective treatment that can rejuvenate the breast contours for years—or even decades—into the future. 

Although there are “breast lift exercises” that claim to naturally perk up the breast contours, these workouts are generally ineffective. Exercising may strengthen the chest muscles, but it can never resolve the skin and tissue laxity that contribute to sagging breasts. These anatomical factors can only be repaired by a plastic surgeon with the experience necessary to obtain a natural-looking and proportional aesthetic result. 

Additional Breast Lift FAQs

Will mastopexy make my breasts smaller?

The procedure may remove a mild amount of excess tissue, but patients usually do not experience a substantial decrease in breast volume. Dr. Schooler will speak with you more about what you can expect after surgery, and our before-and-after photos can also give you insight into the potential outcome of mastopexy. If you would like a smaller or more comfortable breast size, a breast reduction plus lift procedure is a very popular treatment option to attain lighter, more proportional breasts. Alternatively, a breast lift can also be performed with the addition of implants for those who would like to enlarge their breast size. 

How will I feel after a breast lift?

Soreness, swelling, fatigue, and general tenderness are common following a breast lift. The first week of recovery should consist of plenty of rest and healing, with most patients returning to work after one to two weeks depending on the nature of their job. It may take two to six weeks before patients feel completely recuperated. Everyone has a unique rate of healing, so this timeframe can vary from person to person. 

What kind of bra should I wear after a breast lift?

A surgical bra should be worn for the amount of time prescribed by Dr. Schooler to improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and protect your incisions. Following this period, a sports bra with front-facing clasps is generally the best option until Dr. Schooler advises otherwise. Underwire bras should be avoided for at least four to six weeks. 

How can I prevent breast sag in the future?

Nothing can stop the natural aging process, but factors like pregnancy and significant weight fluctuation can often exacerbate breast droop. Both can reduce skin elasticity and diminish breast volume, increasing the risk of developing breast sag. Therefore, it’s recommended to postpone a breast lift until after you’ve completed your family and reached your desired weight range. This can help prevent the possibility of recreating the same concerns you initially addressed with your mastopexy, and help preserve the outcome of your procedure. 

For more information about breast lift surgery, contact our practice to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Wesley Schooler.