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, women experience a number of 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 ptosis (sag). Breast lift surgery—medically referred to as mastopexy—is designed to combat these concerns by elevating the breasts to a more rejuvenated positioning, creating more youthful contours. There are a number of mastopexy techniques that can be performed, 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 shape, positioning, and projection of the breasts for natural-looking results.

What Concerns Can a Breast Lift Improve?

Breast lift surgery is considered one of the most effective procedures to rejuvenate aging breasts. No amount of dieting and exercise can improve the skin and tissue inelasticity that cause sagging breasts; therefore, mastopexy can be a powerful treatment to support the new breast contours. A breast lift can also reduce the areolas and make them more proportional if necessary. While each patient achieves distinctive benefits from the procedure, a breast lift can generally:

  • Reshape flat, elongated, or “deflated” breasts
  • Reposition sagging breasts
  • Renew the breast contours to achieve a rounder, fuller appearance
  • Resize/reshape stretched or elongated nipples

Depending on your reasons for surgery, mastopexy can improve the shape, size, contours, firmness, and positioning of the breasts. This typically makes the procedure an ideal treatment choice for women whose breasts have changed due to pregnancy, menopause, or massive weight loss. In cases where a breast lift is not the best procedure for your needs, Dr. Schooler would be happy to listen to your concerns and suggest an optimal procedure to achieve your desired breast contours.

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. 

Complementary Treatments to a Breast Lift

A breast lift is frequently performed as part of a combination treatment plan involving implants, or even a full Mommy Makeover. More often than not, women affected by breast sagging also experience lost volume to some extent as well. In these situations, Dr. Schooler may recommend adding breast augmentation surgery to your mastopexy to enhance the breast shape and achieve a rounder, fuller, and firmer result. Dr. Schooler can discuss placing saline or silicone implants with a breast lift during your consultation if desired. This may take place during the same procedure or throughout the course of two surgeries depending on each patient. 

If your goals include fully reclaiming your pre-baby body, Dr. Schooler may suggest incorporating a breast lift into a comprehensive Mommy Makeover. A Mommy Makeover combines multiple procedures into the same treatment plan to address several aesthetic concerns at once, providing patients with a truly personalized surgical plan. The treatment options included in a Mommy Makeover typically include cosmetic surgeries that enhance the breasts and abdomen, such as a tummy tuck, breast lift, and breast augmentation.

Are There Alternatives to Breast Lift Surgery?

A breast lift can give you more elegant contours, but there is another procedure designed to similarly remove excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue from the breasts. Breast reduction is a life-changing surgery performed for patients who want to gain a lighter, more manageable breast size. This is achieved by removing and repositioning tissue causing an enlarged, excessive, or dominant appearance in the breasts. While the two procedures share similarities, both are performed for their own respective reasons and good candidates for one treatment may not benefit from the other.

Breast reduction is most successful if your goals include attaining a lighter, more manageable breast size. The procedure can reshape the breasts and give patients renewed contours, but the primary motivations behind breast reduction are usually to alleviate macromastia (large, heavy breasts) symptoms or to gain a more proportionate breast size. In contrast, a breast lift is utilized for purely cosmetic reasons. With mastopexy, patients are typically more concerned with reducing sagging and restoring firmer, more shapely breasts.

By its very nature, breast reduction provides some of the results of a breast lift to a certain degree. The breasts typically look more rejuvenated and lifted after breast reduction, but that doesn’t mean the procedure necessarily includes a breast lift by default. Dr. Schooler can help prepare your treatment plan based on an in-depth discussion of your concerns and what you hope to achieve.

Is a Breast Lift Safe?

Breast lift surgery is considered safe and successful for qualified patients who want to rejuvenate their breasts. The procedure has been safely performed for decades and has extensive research and clinical results to support its effectiveness. A key factor in maximizing safety and satisfaction before the procedure is determining whether you’re a good candidate for surgery. Upon an initial consultation, candidacy for a breast lift can be confirmed by a skilled plastic surgeon.

Like every surgical procedure, mastopexy is only as safe as the overall experience of your plastic surgeon. As long as a surgeon is certified in aesthetic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), patients can feel confident that their procedure will be performed with the high standard of safety and care they deserve in their enhancement. This is very important, as not all breast lift providers are created equal and not all plastic surgeons, in particular, are accredited by the ABPS. In general, a board-certified plastic surgeon can offer:

  • More extensive experience performing breast lift procedures
  • The highest level of training in the field of aesthetic plastic surgery
  • Comprehensive knowledge on the principles of aesthetics, symmetry, and beauty
  • Rigorous standards for safety and sanitization during your surgery
  • A commitment to compassionate and ethical treatment

A board-certified plastic surgeon achieves accreditation by undergoing additional training and continuing education courses beyond the bare minimum. This comprehensive experience often gives plastic surgeons the training to know exactly how to maximize safety during a breast lift procedure, as well as how to intervene in the rare event of complications.

Choosing a Top Breast Lift Surgeon

It’s crucial to keep in mind that your results and overall satisfaction depend on who you choose to perform your procedure. As you continue to look for a qualified breast lift surgeon to address your concerns, our team at Santa Barbara Plastic Surgery Center understands how easily patients can become overwhelmed by the research process. You can help narrow down your options by ensuring your plastic surgeon offers:

  • Experience: In general, results from breast lift surgery tend to be more refined and natural-looking with plastic surgeons who frequently perform the procedure. Dr. Schooler not only achieves beautiful outcomes for countless breast lift patients as the Chief of Plastic Surgery and Medical Director of our practice, but he has also held numerous other positions, including as the Chief of Plastic Surgery at LAC-USC Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Surgery at USC, and an Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University.
  • Professional Affiliations: Membership to professional organizations usually indicate whether a plastic surgeon stays up-to-date with advances in their field. Dr. Schooler stays attuned to cutting-edge techniques by being an active member of the American Medical Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, among other organizations.
  • A Good Reputation: By selecting a plastic surgeon who has a consistent reputation for patient-focused care and satisfactory outcomes, you can help increase the likelihood of achieving your aesthetic goals. Be sure to review a doctor’s online reviews to get an idea of what to expect when you visit their practice. 
  • Excellent Results: Ultimately, a plastic surgeon’s previous results should be a telling indication of whether he or she is the right doctor to perform your procedure. Exploring their patient gallery should give you an understanding of whether their work aligns with what you hope to accomplish.

Above all else, your breast lift surgeon should make you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to achieve your goals. They should not pressure you into making a decision about surgery, and be willing to patiently and thoroughly answer all of your questions. We encourage you to contact our friendly office team if you would like more information about our practice or the breast lift procedure. 

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.