You can also opt to add your own fat to the breast for more volume without an implant — “an auto-augmentation,” says Dr. Few. “You’re doing a lift, but you can fill or fluff up the innermost part, the area between the cleavage points.” During the breast lift, fat is also removed from elsewhere on the body using liposuction: “It requires extra time to harvest fat from another part of the body for injection into the breast. This may be of advantage to the patient because it can address two concerns in one procedure,” says Dr Few, adding, “If someone is very thin, fat may not be an option for injection.”
What does the procedure entail?
The breast lift is a relatively straightforward outpatient procedure, done under general anesthesia. It typically takes about one to three hours, depending on breast shape and size. First, the surgeon will make an incision — either around the areola; around the areola and down in a vertical line similar to a lollipop shape; or around the areola, down, and along the curve of the breast like an inverted T-shape — depending on a patient’s breast shape. Excess skin and tissue are removed and the remaining breast tissue is reshaped into a more uplifted silhouette, the nipple and areola are moved up on the breast, and the areola’s size can also be tweaked if desired.
Patients are able to go home that day, often wearing a post-surgery bra that they’ll keep on for a specific period of time as directed by their doctor. (The bra can be removed to shower.) Some patients may have drains or require stitch removal post-surgery, but this depends on your doctor, so be sure to discuss recovery at your initial consultation.
What is the recovery period?
The breast lift’s rise in popularity may also be due to its relatively easy recovery period; while any procedure will come with a fair share of pain, the breast lift is typically less painful than an augmentation. “The recovery time is very reasonable,” says Dr. Few. “Most patients start to feel almost back to their normal self within a week or two.” According to Dr. Mahmood, many patients experience “very little” pain and are taking Tylenol versus a prescription painkiller by day two of their recovery.
Though you may feel better after a week or two, it takes about six weeks to fully heal from a breast lift procedure. Dr. Leipziger says he takes a conservative approach to post-op care, requesting his patients wear the surgical bra for a week. “They can get on a treadmill lightly [easy walking] after about two to three weeks, but no upper-body strenuous activity [including weightlifting, lifting heavy objects, or rapid movement] for about six weeks.” Most doctors use dissolvable sutures, so you don’t have to go back to have stitches removed.
Are there any risks associated with a breast lift?
Like all surgical procedures, breast lifts can cause bleeding, seroma (soft, swollen lumps around the incision site that can be drained with the help of a needle), infection, asymmetry, and poor scarring. Risks associated specifically with breast lifts include a change in sensation to the nipple, loss of the nipple, and a possible change in the ability to breastfeed, says Dr. Doft, though these side effects are very rare. “Infection or hematoma would be the most common side effects: Infection rates are 1 to 5% and hematoma 2 to 10%, depending on the study,” she explains. And while revision rates for augmentation are as high as 36%, according to one study published in the journal Seminars in Plastic Surgery, after a breast lift “it is not very common that people ask for a revision,” says Dr. Doft. If a patient is unsatisfied enough to ask for a revision, “it is usually after a major change—menopause, weight gain, pregnancy, weight loss.”
What does a breast lift cost?
The average cost varies depending on where you live, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 for a breast lift.
How long do the results of a breast lift last?
The results of a breast lift are permanent, but Dr. Doft says that weight change, pregnancy, menopause, aging, and the effects of gravity can have an impact on results over time. The effects usually aren’t dramatic enough to warrant a new surgery, however: “Some patients elect to have a secondary procedure, but many do not,” she says.