What Exactly Is a Breast Lift? Here’s the Answer

Large breasts

Here’s what patients tell us: They like the way they look in a bra, but not so much when the “support system” is removed. Whether it’s a question of restoring what you had, or changing the degree of uplift nature gave you, there is help in the form of a breast lift, breast augmentation, or a combination of both at our San Jose practice.

Everyone seems to know the basics about breast augmentation: A surgical way of enlarging and/or reshaping breasts. (I have answered common questions in another blog post.) But the thought of a breast lift brings up some basic questions such as:

  • How do I know if I need a breast lift?
  • When should I have one?
  • What can you do to make (them) better—or, the way they used to be?

Women start asking these questions when they cross a major milestone like:

  • Having children
  • Significant weight loss
  • Aging

Or they may be young, have never been pregnant, but have breasts that are not symmetrical. Maybe one breast is noticeably higher than the other.

Concerns that most often bring women into my San Jose plastic surgery office to discuss the options available include:

  • Sagging
  • Loss of volume
  • Change in shape and firmness
  • Uneven size, shape, or alignment

That discussion usually includes more questions, not just about lifting the breasts, but what other things breast lift surgery can do:

  • Will a breast lift make the breasts fuller?
  • Can a lift make them smaller?

The answer to both of those questions: no.

What a breast lift cannot do:

A breast lift will not increase the size of your breasts or decrease the amount of tissue in the breast. For those results, consider combining breast lift surgery with either breast augmentation or breast reduction. Breast procedures can, and usually are, performed at the same time, in a single surgical session. Many women expect a breast lift to restore or create volume in the upper pole (top half) of the breast. Yes, it may help, but a breast lift with an implant will result in greater upper pole fullness.

Women who have completed their family are likely to have a longer-lasting result, since they are not going to be affected by factors such as breastfeeding and weight fluctuations due to child-bearing.

If you’ve carefully studied the information on breast lift, and decide, with the advice of your board-certified plastic surgeon, that it’s the procedure you want, here is what you should expect:

What a breast life can do:

  • If your “before” look includes sagging, “deflation” due to breastfeeding or weight loss, and therefore an altered breast shape, a breast lift will restore your breasts to a more “natural” position.
  • The breast lift procedure also suspends the breast tissue, creating a kind of “bra” out of your own tissue, providing support to help prevent further sagging in the future.
  • Your breasts will be firmer.
  • Your breast contour will be more shapely.
  • If the areolas have become stretched or enlarged, their size can be reduced.
  • Breast asymmetry can be corrected.

The different kinds of breast lifts

The decision to pick a specific type of lift is an extremely important one. There are different approaches to a breast lift, depending on your particular anatomy and the best result for your body. We’re emphasizing this because it’s important for you to understand. Breast lift, like any surgery, involves scar formation. The different types of breast lift produce varying degrees of scarring. Please don’t believe that you can say, “I’d like the breast lift with the smallest scar,” and hope to achieve the result you want. You should take your plastic surgeon’s advice on which method will produce the lifted, firmer, and shapelier breasts you want.

Here are the terms used to describe the most-used techniques and incisions for breast lift:

  • Anchor lift: The incision is made around the areola, and then down, vertically, from the center to the breast crease. It’s extended horizontally along the crease. This approach is used when there is significant sagging and creates the most scarring.
  • Lollipop lift: This is also referred to as a “keyhole” incision. (All terms used here, describe the scar shape) The lollipop incision is made around the areola and then proceeds down, stopping at the breast crease. This incision is used for women with more moderate sagging.
  • Donut lift: We also call this a “periareolar lift” – with the incision made around the areola only.

About scarring

The scarring produced by any of the breast lift techniques will be hidden in a bra or bikini top. Remember, any “cut” to the skin will produce a scar. Procedures with fewer incisions/scars typically result in less lift. Your incision lines will fade over time and often become unnoticeable. Board-certified plastic surgeons are trained to create the most minimal scarring possible, but no surgeon can eliminate a scar completely.

The take-home message, though, is to have an open discussion with your surgeon about what is right for you, and which method is the best one to achieve your goal.

Breast lift is a very popular procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of breast lifts performed has risen 70% since the year 2000.

My San Jose breast lift patients often have combination Mommy Makeover  procedures that may also include a tummy tuck or breast augmentation. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis at our accredited surgical facility. Check out real photos of breast lift patients.

Dr. Vincent Lepore is a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Jose with extensive experience in breast enhancement surgery. Please contact us to schedule a consultation or call us at (408) 356-4241 with your questions. Cosmetic consultations are offered free of charge.

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