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Pregnancy, nursing, advancing age and the force of gravity can take their toll on a woman’s breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. Breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts. Mastopexy can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume – for example, after pregnancy – breast implants inserted in conjunction with mastopexy can increase both their firmness and their size.

Choosing This Surgery

Candidates for breast lift surgery (mastopexy) are healthy women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts. No surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity.

Many women seek breast lift surgery because pregnancy and nursing caused stretched skin and loss of volume in their breasts. 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 breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.

In your initial consultation, it’s important to discuss your expectations frankly with your surgeon, and to listen to his or her opinions and options. The surgeon will examine your breasts and measure them while you’re sitting or standing. He or she will discuss variables that may affect the procedure – such as your age, the size and shape of your breasts and the condition of your skin – and recommend whether an implant is advisable. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor questions, especially regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

Preparing for Surgery

Depending on your age and family history, your surgeon may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. You’ll also receive specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, 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 your surgery and to help you with daily tasks for a few days, if needed. Your breast lift may be performed in Edina Plastic Surgery’s on-site surgery center, another outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis (with no overnight stay).

Breast lift surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll sleep through the operation. In selected patients – particularly when a smaller incision is being made – the surgeon may use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort.

Surgeries and recoveries are more successful for patients who are as healthy and strong as possible.

> Our tips for preparing for your surgery are available here.

About the Surgery

Mastopexy usually requires 1½ to 2½ hours of surgery time. Techniques vary, but the most common procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast. The incision outlines the area from which 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 moved to the 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 downward from the nipple area, and along the lower crease of the breast.

Incisions outline the area of skin to be removed and the new position for the nipple.
Skin formerly located above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. Sutures close the incisions, giving the breast its new contour.
After surgery, the breasts are higher and firmer, with sutures usually located around the areola, below it, and in the crease under the breast.

Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions. One such procedure is the “doughnut”(or concentric) mastopexy, in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped area of skin is removed. 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 deeper, under the muscle of the chest wall.

A breast lift is a common and safe procedure and our certified plastic surgeons take every precaution. As with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following your physician’s advice both before and after surgery. Mastopexy does leave noticeable, permanent scars, although they’ll be covered by your bra or bathing suit. The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.

After surgery, you’ll wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts may be bruised, swollen and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain shouldn’t be severe. Any discomfort you do feel can be relieved with medications prescribed by your surgeon.

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.

If your expectations are realistic, chances are good that you’ll be satisfied with your breast lift.



41 yo, 5’6″, 138 lbs. Involutional changes after pregnancies.


35 yo female silicone gel implants, intermediate profile, 350cc bilaterally. Post-op photos at 2 months.


38yo female, 5″5″, 137 lbs., requested breast lift, augmentation, and improvement of breast asymmetry. Surgery included a vertical mastopexy (breast lift) on the right and circumareolar mastopexy on the left. Augmentation was with a low profile saline implant on the right, 300cc filled to 310cc. On the left, a moderate profile saline implant was placed, 360cc filled to 395cc.


33 yo, 5’6″, 130 lbs., requested a breast lift and enlargement. Surgery was a breast lift (mastopexy) with augmentation using 339cc moderate profile silicone gel implants bilaterally. Pre-op cup size 34B, post-op cup size 34C.


34 yo, 5’9″, 145 lbs. Breast lift (circumareolar or “donut” mastopexy) and augmentation with gel implants, 350cc moderate plus profile bilaterally.


62 yo; mastopexy (breast lift). 4 month photos.