THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR A BREAST LIFT
A breast lift can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
The best candidates for mastopexy are healthy, emotionally stable women who are realistic about what surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in woman with sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted and reshaped in conjunction with an enlargement or reduction at the same time.
Many woman seek mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you’re planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift. While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example, mastopexy usually doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.
ALL SURGERY CARRIES SOME UNCERTAINTY AND RISK
A breast lift is not a simple operation, but it’s normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always the possibility of complications. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but scars can widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following your physician’s advice both before and after surgery.
Mastopexy does leave permanent scars although they should be covered by your bra or bathing suit. Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers. The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.
PLANNING YOUR SURGERY
At your initial consultation, it’s important to discuss your expectations with your surgeon.
Your surgeon will examine your breasts and measure them while you’re sitting or standing and will discuss the variables that will affect the procedure-such as your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin.
The procedure should be described in detail, explaining its risks and limitations and making sure you understand the scarring that will result. He will explain the anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
PREPARING FOR YOUR SAFETY
Depending on the type of surgery, your age and family history, your surgeon may require you to have a mammogram (breast xray) before surgery. You will also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, avoiding smoking and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.
WHERE YOUR SURGERY WILL BE PERFORMED
Your breast lift will be performed at an outpatient surgery center. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis for cost containment and convenience. If necessary, you can be admitted to the surgery center and stay overnight.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA
Breast lifts are performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll sleep through the operation.
Mastopexy usually takes one and a half to three and a half hours. Techniques vary, but the most common procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast.
The incision outlines the area in which the breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are left attached to the breast and moved to a higher position. The skin surrounding the areola is then brought down and together to reshape the breast. Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downwards from the nipple area and along the lower crease of the breast. Hence the terms “lollipop” or “anchor” lift.
Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions.
If you’re having an implant inserted along with your breast lift, it will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue or under the muscle of the chest wall.
AFTER YOUR SURGERY
After surgery, you’ll wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts may be a little bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain should not be severe. Any discomfort you do feel can be relieved with medications prescribed by your surgeon. Remember to use ice bags on any sore areas.
Within a few days, the bandages will be replaced by a soft support bra. You’ll need to wear this bra around the clock for three to six weeks, over a layer of gauze. The stitches will be removed after three weeks.
You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused by surgery. This numbness usually fades and any swelling subsides over the next six weeks or so. In some patients, however, loss of feeling may last a year or more and, occasionally, it may be permanent.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Healing is a gradual process. Although you may be up and about in a day or two, don’t plan on returning to work for about a week, depending on how you feel. Avoid lifting anything over your head for three to four weeks. If you have any unusual symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your surgeon.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for resuming your normal activities after about 4-6 weeks following surgery. After that, you can resume these activities slowly. If you become pregnant, the operation may affect your ability to breastfeed, since your milk ducts and nipples have been moved.
YOUR NEW LOOK
Your surgeon will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible. Still, it’s important to remember that Mastopexy scars are extensive and permanent. They often remain lumpy and red for months, then gradually become less obvious, sometimes eventually fading to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars are placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops. You will be followed on a monthly basis to watch and control the scar maturation.
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You should also keep in mind that a breast lift won’t keep you firm forever. The effects of gravity, genetics, pregnancy, aging and weight fluctuation may eventually take their toll again.
Your satisfaction with a breast lift is likely to be greater if you understand the procedure thoroughly and if your expectations are realistic.