A breast lift — also known as mastopexy — is a surgical procedure performed to change the shape of your breasts. During a breast lift, excess skin is removed and breast tissue is reshaped to raise the breasts.
You might choose to have a breast lift if your breasts sag or your nipples point downward. A breast lift might also boost your self-image and self-confidence.
A breast lift won’t significantly change the size of your breasts. However, a breast lift can be done in combination with breast augmentation or breast reduction.

Why it’s done
As you get older, your breasts change — losing elasticity and firmness. There are many causes for these kinds of breast changes, including:

  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the ligaments that support your breasts might stretch as your breasts get fuller and heavier. This stretching might contribute to sagging breasts after pregnancy — whether or not you breast-feed your baby.
  • Weight fluctuations. Changes in your weight can cause your breast skin to stretch and lose elasticity.

Gravity. Over time, gravity causes ligaments in the breasts to stretch and sag.
A breast lift can reduce sagging and raise the position of the nipples and the darker area surrounding the nipples (areola). The size of the areolae can also be reduced during the procedure to keep them in proportion to the newly shaped breasts.
A breast lift isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering pregnancy at any point in the future, you might delay getting a breast lift. During pregnancy your breasts could stretch and offset the results of the lift.
Breast-feeding is a consideration as well. Although breast-feeding is usually possible after a breast lift — since the nipples aren’t separated from the underlying breast tissue — some women might have difficulty producing enough milk.
While a breast lift can be done on breasts of any size, women with smaller sagging breasts will likely have longer lasting results. Larger breasts are heavier, which makes them more likely to sag again.

How you prepare
Before a breast lift you might need to:

  • Schedule a mammogram. Your doctor might recommend a baseline mammogram before the procedure and another mammogram a few months afterward. This will help your medical team see changes in your breast tissue and interpret future mammograms.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery.
  • Avoid certain medications. You’ll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
  • Be at a healthy weight. Consider making dietary changes or participating in an exercise program to assist with weight loss if you’ve gained weight in the past year.

During the procedure
A breast lift requires general anesthesia. Techniques used to remove breast skin and reshape breast tissue vary. The specific technique your plastic surgeon chooses will determine the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.

Your doctor might make incisions:
Around the areolae — the darker area surrounding the nipples
Extending downward from the areolae to the breast creases
Horizontally along the breast creases

Your doctor might place stitches deep within your breasts to reshape your breast tissue and, if necessary, reduce the size of your areolae. He or she will remove excess breast skin and shift the nipples to higher positions. Then your doctor will bring together the breast skin and close the incisions with stitches, surgical tape or skin adhesives.The procedure typically takes two to three hours.

After the procedure
After a breast lift, your breasts will likely be covered with gauze and a surgical support bra. Small tubes might be placed at the incision sites in your breasts to drain any excess blood or fluid.

Your breasts will be swollen and bruised for about two weeks. You’ll likely feel pain and soreness around the incisions, which will be red or pink for a few months. Numbness in your nipples, areolae and breast skin might last for about six weeks.
In the first few days after a breast lift, take pain medication as recommended by your doctor. Avoid straining, bending and lifting. Sleep on your back or your side to keep pressure off your breasts.

Avoid sexual activity for at least one to two weeks after the breast lift. Ask your doctor when it’s OK to resume daily activities, such as washing your hair, showering or bathing.
Drainage tubes may be placed near your incisions and are typically removed within a few days. When your doctor removes the tubes, he or she will also probably change or remove your bandages.

Talk to your doctor about when — or if — your stitches will be removed. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be removed in the doctor’s office, often one to two weeks after the procedure.

Continue to wear the surgical support bra round-the-clock for three or four days. Then you’ll wear a soft support bra for three or four weeks. Your doctor might suggest using silicone tape or gel on your incisions to promote healing.

While you’re healing, keep your breasts out of the sun. Afterward, protect your incisions during sun exposure.

Results
You’ll notice an immediate change in the appearance of your breasts — although their shape will continue to change and settle over the next few months.
Initially, scars will appear red and lumpy. While scars are permanent, they’ll soften and become thin and white within one to two years. Scars from a breast lift can usually be hidden by bras and bathing suits.
You might notice that your bra size is a little smaller after a breast lift — even if you haven’t had a breast reduction in combination with the procedure. This is simply a result of your breasts becoming firmer and rounder.
Breast lift results might not be permanent. As you age, your skin will naturally become less elastic, and some sagging might occur — especially if you have larger, heavier breasts. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight can help you retain your results.