Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

Many women are happy with the overall size of their breasts but are unhappy with their appearance, especially if they are sagging or drooping. This can occur as a natural part of ageing, after breastfeeding or following significant weight loss. Breast uplift surgery is a procedure to raise the breasts, making them perkier and firmer by removing excess skin from the underneath the breast. It will improve the appearance of breasts that are sagging or drooping and can also correct downward facing nipples.

Many women undergoing breast enlargement or reduction surgery will choose to combine the procedure with a breast lift to maximise the results of their size change.

Breast Uplift Surgery

There is one basic procedure that is used in most clinics and hospitals. Firstly, the surgery will involve a general anaesthetic and it will take between two to three hours to perform. The surgery involves a three incision technique where the surgeon will create an incision around the areola, a second incision that runs from the bottom of the areola to the crease of the breasts and finally an incision along the bottom of the breast horizontally. This method is preferred by most surgeons as it will leave very little scarring.

After the incisions have been made, the excess skin can then be cut away. The nipple and areola will then be repositioned into a more natural place on the breast and the procedure may also include the surgeon resizing the nipple. The surgeon will then close the incisions to create your new breast shape. The incisions will be covered over with dressings and the amount of time these must be worn will depend on your individual case.

Following the surgery, you will be closely monitored in the clinic or hospital to make sure you are recovering well. This type of surgery will often involve a one or two night stay in the clinic after which a nursing team at the clinic will advise you on any aftercare that you will need to do yourself at home including care of the incision site and managing any discomfort.

Breast uplift incision points

Am I Suitable?

Your surgeon will discuss your suitability for a breast lift procedure and will assess whether you confirm to their individual eligibility criteria. Common criteria for being suitable for breast uplift surgery include:

  • General good level of health.
  • Flat, elongated or pendulous breasts, the appearance of which you find distressing.
  • Nipples and/or areolas that point downwards or fall below the breast crease when the breasts are unsupported.
  • Stretched breast skin.
  • One breast lower than the other.

How Much Does A Breast Lift Cost?

The cost of breast lift surgery will vary depending on the clinic you choose and your personal circumstances, but typically costs around £3,250-£5,500. The amount paid will also vary on other factors, such as whether the uplift is being combined with a breast reduction or enlargement.

Financing A Breast Lift

Most clinics offer a range of financial packages to help you spread the cost of your procedure with many even providing 0% APR finance deals. As with any surgical procedure you should be sure you fully understand the cost of the operation, what is included in the price and the finance package you have chosen; if the finance option is provided with interest, it may increase the amount you pay back significantly. An example of the difference interest makes to your payment is shown below:

£5000 at 0% APR over 2 years = £208.33 per month Total Repaid = £5000
£5000 at 9% APR over 2 years = £245.83 per month Total Repaid = £5900
£5000 at 9% APR over 4 years = £141.67 per month Total Repaid = £6800

Alternatively some clinics offer "buy now pay later" packages where you have an initial payment free period, typically lasting 12 months after which you will normally be able to spread the cost of your procedure monthly, or pay the balance in full. With this finance package interest is usually charged should you choose to spread the cost monthly following your initial payment free period.

Is It Available On The NHS?

A breast lift, as with reduction or augmentation surgery, is generally considered a cosmetic procedure and will therefore not normally be available on the NHS. However, if you have suffered any psychological or physical discomfort due to breast shape/size you may be able to gain a referral from your GP for a consultation with a plastic surgeon, and possibly a psychiatrist or psychologist. After assessment, they will consider whether surgery is justified, based on whether a breast lift will be of physical or psychological benefit to you. The final decision is normally made at a PCT (Primary Care Trust) panel. They will take all of your information into account and base their decision on your individual case.

Issues the NHS will normally take into account include physical pain (for example back and neck pain) due to heavy, drooping breasts. Infections under the breast, an inability to exercise or take part in sports or excessive sweating and rashes will also be considered. They will take account of how your situation is affecting you psychologically. Some women feel excessively distressed or depressed because of the shape of their breasts. Also, they can often feel incredibly self conscious when having to deal with unwanted attention or harassment and feel that they cannot wear certain clothes because of this.

Before Breast Lift Surgery

Before breast lift surgery, you should have a medical evaluation and a baseline mammogram. You may be asked to take certain medication or adjust your current medication and if you are a smoker, you should stop well in advance of surgery. You should also avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding. You will be given advice on what to do on the day of the procedure, post-operative care and follow up.

Recovery And Aftercare

You shouldn't need to stay in the hospital for an extended duration; however some pain relief may be required to ease any discomfort. Healthcare professionals should provide you with information regarding aftercare, with an outpatient appointment for a future date to check that your breasts are healing normally, or to remove any stitches if you were not given dissolvable stitches.

This surgery is performed regularly and complications are not common. Minor after effects may be present which can include discomfort or a burning sensation, however this will subside after a couple of weeks.

It may take a few months to see the final results of the breast lift, as the shape and position continue to settle. Incision lines will not disappear completely but will fade over time. You should also be able to retain the shape of your breast lift long term, provided you maintain a healthy lifestyle with no significant weight gain or loss.

Risks and Complications

Like all surgical procedures, breast lift operations come with a number of general risks associated with surgery, such as possible infection or internal bleeding, reactions to the anaesthetic or postoperative nausea and vomiting.

In addition to these general risks, there are a number of breast lift specific potential complications, including:

  • Difficult wound healing - Following a breast lift procedure you may find your wounds have difficulty healing, most commonly where a vertical and horizontal wound meet. The majority of healing issues will clear up by themselves with the aid of proper cleaning and dressing, but more serious complications (e.g. infections) may require medication or further intervention.
  • Uneven shape - Following your procedure it is possible that your breasts will be uneven in size or shape. If this difference is particularly drastic you may have to undergo a further revisional procedure to make your breasts more even.
  • Inability to breastfeed - If your breast uplift involved separating the nipple from the milk duct when it is moved then you will be unable to breastfeed. If you are concerned about this you should talk to your surgeon before undergoing your procedure.
  • Loss of sensation in the nipples - During any breast surgery there is a chance that the nerves to your nipples may be inadvertently damaged. If this happens during your procedure you may lose feeling in your nipples, or they may lose their ability to become erect.
  • Bruising - Bruising and swelling are common following a breast uplift procedure, but if particularly severe you may need to undergo a small procedure to drain away the excess fluid.
  • Scarring - After your breast uplift procedure you will be left with a scar which will very red for the first few months after your surgery. This should settle and fade with time.

Your surgeon should explain the potential risks and side effects to you before you undergo your procedure.

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