According to BAAPS, there were 26,043 cosmetic surgery procedures in 2018 with more than 12,000 UK women having some form of cosmetic breast surgery.
Breast procedures are typically split into three categories; augmentations, reductions or mastopexies (more commonly known as a breast uplift), with each tailored to address personal concerns and to suit your body and lifestyle.
Here, Professor Marcos Sforza, expert aesthetic surgeon and scientific director, MyBreast Cosmetic Surgery, tells Bazaar everything you need to know about 'breast lifts'; from whether you are an ideal candidate, what recovery entails and the potential risks and complications associated with surgery.
How can you tell if you are a suitable candidate for a breast lift?
A breast lift is an operation to remove extra loose skin from the breasts to lift and reshape them, to make them look more youthful.
A standard breast lift usually takes about half a day and may require an overnight stay in hospital.
You are a suitable candidate for a breast lift if you meet the following criteria:
· Your breasts are naturally starting to droop with age
· Your breasts are looking less full because of pregnancy and breastfeeding
· Your breasts now droop after significant weight loss
What’s the difference between a breast lift and breast augmentation?
A breast augmentation can make a significant difference to size, but it does not impact the position of the breasts. If breasts are sagging, breast augmentation will not correct this issue.
Conversely, a breast lift will not increase the amount of breast tissue as a breast augmentation does. If your breasts are drooping and you want an increase in volume, combining a breast lift and augmentation may be a good solution.
Breast lift techniques
The appropriate technique for a breast lift is determined based on:
· Breast size and shape
· The level of sagging, skin quality and elasticity
· The size and position of the areola
When a patient is asking for actual cleavage—that upper-pole fullness—they may need the structure of an implant too.
1. The Anchor Incision
The Anchor Incision is made around the perimeter of the areola, vertically down from the areola to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease. This technique produces the most scarring but is most suitable for women with a severe degree of sagging who will not see results from less invasive techniques.
2. The Lollipop Lift
Also known as a ‘keyhole’ incision, this is made around the perimeter of the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease. This technique is suitable for women with a moderate degree of sagging, who do not wish to have breast implants as well.
3. The ‘Benelli’ Lift
Named after the surgeon who pioneered the technique, incisions are only made around the perimeter of the areola. It is suitable for women with a mild-to-moderate degree of sagging.
4. The Crescent Lift
This is when the incision line lies just along the upper half of the areola and a crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed above that line. The surrounding skin is reattached to the areola. This type of lift is usually done with a breast augmentation and is suitable only for women with a very small degree of sagging.
In the pipeline...
There’s a new generation of support materials being introduced to the breast surgery market. Galaflex, is essentially a bio-compatible ‘mesh’ that is placed inside the breast, which acts ‘as an internal bra’. It gives a natural-looking lift without the need for an implant.
What happens during a breast lift procedure?
Incisions will be made to the breasts, which will have been agreed upon prior to surgery. Your surgeons will then lift and reshape the underlying breast tissue to improve firmness and contour.
The nipple and areola will be repositioned to a natural, more youthful height and excess breast skin will be eradicated. The remaining skin is tightened as the incisions are closed.
Many women desire the smallest scar possible. However, your plastic surgeon will recommend the incisions best for your body type. Have trust in their guidance, as you may jeopardise your results by choosing an incision not suited to you.
How long will results last?
It depends on a number of factors like the patient’s age, the impact of pregnancy, body weight and various other lifestyle factors.
Once a lift is performed, your breasts will look fuller. However, they will continue to age along with the rest of your body, but this does usually take a while – dependent on each individual patient - so most patients find that the one lift or mastopexy is adequate.
Potential risks and complications
· Breast lifts specifically may involve changing the position of your nipples, which means normal sensation in the nipple and areola can be lost permanently.
All breast procedures
· The most common side-effects to any breast procedures will be some swelling and bruising of the breasts after the operation.
· All breast procedures are performed under anaesthetic and it is possible to have an allergic reaction to it (anaphylaxis). Symptoms include breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, hives and swelling. However, serious reactions to anaesthesia are very rare.
· A poor physical response to anaesthesia can sometimes develop into a chest infection. There is a small risk of this happening, but this greatly increases if you smoke.
· There will be scars from the surgery. These will fade to become paler over about a year, but it’s unlikely they will ever completely disappear. Occasionally, scars may become wider, thicker, red or painful, and you may need to have surgery to correct them.
· Before the surgery, your surgeon should discuss any medicines you’re taking, as some increase your risk of bleeding. It’s important to control high blood pressure too
· A seroma could occur, which is when fluid collects in the breast. This may need to be drained by having a needle through the skin, or by having another operation.
· Blood clots can form in the leg, which causes pain and swelling and will need to be treated with blood-thinning medication.
Recovery from breast lifts
The recovery for all breast procedures is similar. When you awake from surgery, your incisions will be covered, and your chest may be wrapped. You will need to book at least two-to-three weeks off work, as you can expect one to two weeks of bruising, swelling and discomfort.
Any non-dissolvable stitches are removed after one to two weeks; drains come out within a week. You should ensure you can see your surgical team regularly for the first few weeks after a procedure, as it is likely to need some regular dressings on wounds during this time.
Once all the wounds are healed, it’s likely the surgeon will want to see you at about three-to-six months after your surgery.
For at least three weeks, you cannot lift anything over 10 pounds - and that includes children! If you have kids, you will need a primary caregiver during this time and gym enthusiasts should refrain from push-ups, pull-ups or intense yoga for around two months. You will not be able to drive for at least the first week, and possibly into the second, and then only for short journeys.
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