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.
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?
In the UK, breast lift surgery will cost you between £5,000 and £7,500. Factors affecting the price include whereabouts in the country you are; the surgeon you choose; and the clinic you have the breast lift done in. The cost of breast lift surgery includes everything from your initial consultation, to the required aftercare, as well as the procedure itself. It will also include dressings and prescriptions.
You can usually choose to pay for your breast lift outright, or alternatively, some clinics are happy to arrange payment using finance package. In these instances, you will normally be required to pay a minimum amount as a deposit (usually around 10% of the total cost) and then payback the balance with interest over a period up to 48 months. If you choose for a much shorter ‘payback’ period you may be able to arrange 0% interest.
To compare clinic costs use our online clinic comparison tool at the top of the page. Here is a price and finance guide for a breast lift with the UK's leading clinics:
|Harley Medical Group||£5,500||£500||9.9%||12 - 24 months|
Up to 48 months
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.
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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 evener.
- 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.
Will I Have Scars From Breast Lift Surgery?
Immediately following the breast lift surgery there will be some wound tenderness and pain, which will be treated with pain relief. Nurses should be on hand to help you with both pain relief and comfort. Each breast will also have a ‘drain’ – a small tube ensuring there is no excess of fluid in the wound. These are removed prior to your discharge.
Following your clinic stay, which will be for 1-2 nights, you’ll need to make some arrangements for the next few weeks. Depending on what you do, you may need to be off work for around a fortnight. Your surgeon will give you advice on how long you should stay off work, how to care for your breasts, and how to facilitate the best recovery.
Approximately a week after the surgery you will be seen again at the clinic. Your original dressings should remain on until removed at this appointment, and it is important that you keep them dry. If you have stitches that need removing now will be the time.
Here are some top tips for a Speedy Recovery From Breast Lift Surgery:
- It is normal to feel tired and uncomfortable for the first few weeks following surgery. Arrange help at home and with childcare as needed
- Use a sports bra, and do not wear an underwired bra until told you may do so by your surgeon. Wear the sports bra continually (day and night) for 6-12 weeks to maximise recovery
- Take regular pain relief as needed
- Once stitches have been removed you can shower normally
- Do not resume activity and exercise until your surgeon says you may
It is quite usual to experience tenderness, swelling, and even bruising on the breasts. This is normally short lived and should calm down within a few weeks. Listen to your body, and gradually increase activity in accordance with how you feel, and your surgeon’s advice.
It is also normal to have scarring following the surgery. The scarring size and location will depend on the size and type of the incisions needed to perform the breast lift. Surrounding the nipples there will be a circle of scarring. In the first few months, the scars will be red and then pink and fade to white over time. Your clinic will be able to advise how you can reduce the appearance of your breast lift scars.
Is It Possible to Breastfeed After Breast Lift Surgery?
Typically, pregnancy, childrearing, and breastfeeding, as well as generalised ageing, are the main factors causing breasts to lose their tightness and pert appearance. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you do not have breast lift surgery until you have completed your family.
It is possible that you may experience reduced areola sensitivity following breast lift surgery, and in addition, you may not be able to breastfeed.
If you choose to have another breast lift surgery following more children, then you may discover the overall appearance of the scarring is worse. We really do recommend you wait until you have completed your family, and are not going to be breastfeeding again, before having breast lift surgery.
What Are the Alternatives to Breast Lift Surgery?
It may be that you want to complete your family before opting for breast lift surgery. You may want to be sure you’ve exhausted all other options, before having the breast lift procedure. With breast lift surgery you can expect to see a long-lasting marked difference to the positioning and feel of your breasts. However, to a lesser extent, the same effects can be seen in other ways.
One alternative to breast lift surgery is to use breast lift adhesive tape or ‘cups’. These can be used by some women to create a lifted look, without a bra, when wearing dresses or tops. However, these are limited in their success depending on the size of your breast. Generally, they are more effective for small breasts.
Additionally, exercise can help to improve the muscle tone underlying the breasts, in the shoulder area, and across the back. This core strength helps to support the breasts and can go some way towards more pert breasts. However, neither of these techniques will be as obviously effective as breast lift surgery.