The breasts can sag for many reasons, including age, pregnancy, weight loss, and other factors. While older patients and post-pregnancy women are more prone to sagging, it can happen to individuals of any age—with or without kids. Sagging breasts can cause self-consciousness or embarrassment, as well as issues when shopping for clothes and/or swimsuits. In addition, some women may be hesitant to have intimate encounters due to fear of exposing their breasts.
Our experienced, Philadelphia-area plastic surgeon David Bottger, MD performs breast lift surgery for women who desire a more youthful, perky appearance for their breasts. Contact him at 610-355-1929 to schedule your initial consultation and see if a breast lift is right for you.
What is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift is a surgical procedure that raises the breasts into a more youthful position. The procedure can achieve a more rejuvenated breast contour, working to lift and reshape the breasts to minimize the appearance of sag. A breast lift is appropriate for women whose breasts have begun to droop, whether from weight fluctuations, age, genetics, pregnancy, or any other reason. It is not to be confused with breast augmentation, which enlarges the breasts but does not lift them. If your breasts are not drooping but you wish to increase your breast size, Dr. Bottger advises looking into breast augmentation instead. A breast lift procedure on its own does not enlarge the breasts unless combined with a breast augmentation. That said, both procedures can be incorporated into a comprehensive Mommy Makeover if desired.
Breast Lift vs. Breast Augmentation
Breast lift and breast augmentation are two of the most commonly performed breast surgeries, and they are often performed together in a joint procedure called breast augmentation mastopexy, or a “breast lift with implants.” The main differences between a breast lift and breast augmentation are as follows:
- Breast Lift: A breast lift is ideal for women who want to correct drooping breasts, but who are not seeking breast enlargement. A breast lift can also make the areola smaller.
- Breast Augmentation: This procedure uses implants to create bigger breasts. It may be able to help correct very minor sagging, and can help create a better breast shape. However, if your breasts droop significantly, a breast lift would better address your concerns.
Dr. Bottger will listen to your goals and help determine which procedure is best for your individual case. Sometimes, the most beneficial option is pursuing breast lift and breast augmentation surgery at the same time.
Are You A Candidate For A Breast Lift?
Many women could benefit from a breast lift to correct their ptosis (drooping) of the breast. However, for some, a breast augmentation alone may achieve their goals. For others, a combination procedure may be best. Still, others may not be a candidate for breast surgery due to health issues or other problems preventing elective surgery.
The ideal candidate for a breast lift procedure may have:
- Excess skin
- Sagging breasts
- Loss of fullness or shape
- Overly large areolas
- Breast asymmetry
In addition to reducing sag and trimming excess skin, a breast lift can also correct breast asymmetry and the areola size. If you’re bothered by your large areolas or breast asymmetry, see Dr. Bottger to find out whether a breast lift can help. In some cases, differently sized breast implants are the best solution for asymmetry, but in others, a breast lift alone may be able to help.
Take a look at some of our breast lift before-and-after photos to see what kind of results to expect.
Degrees of Breast Drooping
Patients typically exhibit varying degrees of breast sag that may become more pronounced as the natural aging process continues to cause aesthetic changes in the body. Breast ptosis, or breast drooping, is classified into four main categories that can help determine whether you may benefit from a breast lift:
- Pseudoptosis: The lower breast falls slightly below the inframammary fold, but the nipples remain above the breast crease.
- Grade I: The breasts descend below the inframammary fold, but the nipples are at the level of the breast crease.
- Grade II: The breasts and nipples sag well below the inframammary fold, but the nipples are not yet at the lowest point of the breast.
- Grade III: The breasts and nipples droop considerably below the inframammary fold, with the nipples often pointing downward.
Whether you experience mild breast sag or a complete loss of shape, breast lift surgery is designed to resolve the different degrees of breast ptosis by addressing the factors that contribute to sagging, such as skin laxity, depleted breast volume, and descended breast tissue.
How is the Breast Lift Procedure Performed?
Each breast lift procedure is customized to suit your individual needs. Dr. Bottger performs two main types of breast lift:
- Circumareolar Mastopexy: Also known as a “donut mastopexy,” this procedure is best for women with minimal sagging. A small incision is made around the areola, and the nipple is repositioned to a higher location. This breast lift technique is best for individuals with minimal sagging, and creates a smaller scar.
- Vertical Mastopexy: This procedure is best for women with more significant sagging. It creates a scar around the areola and down the underside of the breast, known as a “lollipop” scar. While there is more scarring with this procedure, it gives the surgeon more flexibility to correct severe cases of breast sag.
Dr. Bottger will discuss your options during your consultation, taking into account the degree of sagging you exhibit, whether you would like to enlarge the breasts in conjunction with lifting them, and the nature of your expected results. He will then help to devise a treatment plan that addresses your goals while taking your anatomy into consideration.
Does the Nipple Need To Be Removed for a Breast Lift?
A commonly asked question by women interested in a breast lift is whether the nipple needs to be fully removed during the procedure. Most women are naturally concerned about preserving the nipple’s function, especially if they plan to breastfeed in the future.
Fortunately, the nipple does not need to be removed during a breast lift procedure. Instead, an incision is made around the nipple and areola, which is left attached to underlying breast tissue. An appropriate amount of skin is then removed, the nipple is raised, and the skin envelope is tightened and closed.
Dr. Bottger takes great care to preserve the milk ducts while repositioning the nipple in order to ensure the greatest likelihood of future breastfeeding.
What is Breast Lift Recovery Like?
Recovery after a breast lift is generally very tolerable. You will likely experience some initial pain and discomfort in the days immediately following your procedure, but this is easily managed through the pain medications Dr. Bottger prescribes for you.
A breast lift is an outpatient procedure, and you should be able to go home after surgery without needing to stay in the hospital. We highly recommend organizing a ride back from the hospital as well as making sure you have someone to help out around the house for the first few days, especially if you have children. You will need to rest and recover with minimal activity at first.
After the first few days, you can resume light tasks around the house. Within the first few weeks, you should be able to go back to work and do gentle exercises such as walking or using an elliptical or stationary bike.
You should refrain from strenuous activity for at least a month. Most people are ready to start weight lifting or aerobic exercise after six to eight weeks.
Swelling and bruising may occur for the first few weeks, and there may be residual swelling for several months. You should be able to see your final shape after all of the swelling has dissipated.
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I would recommend Dr. Bottger and his team to anyone without hesitation. They are so helpful and patient with every question, concern, email and phone call. You will not be disappointed!
How Long Do Breast Lift Results Last?
Unfortunately, the natural aging process continues following a breast lift, and gravity continues to exert its pull. It is inevitable that some additional sagging will take place in the years following your breast lift.
However, with proper maintenance, you should only have to have one breast lift procedure in your life. A breast lift essentially resets the clock on your body, and the results can last for a very long time.
Factors that can impact the length of your results include:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding following your breast lift
- Skin laxity
- Weight gain and loss, prior to and after your breast lift
- Size of breast implants (if augmentation was performed along with the lift)
Leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes avoiding fad diets, exercising, and not smoking, plays a large role in keeping your breasts perky. Fad diets can cause extreme weight fluctuations which impact the shape and size of your breasts, and smoking is not only detrimental to overall health but also speeds up the breakdown of elastin in the skin, which also leads to sagging.
Will I Have Visible Breast Lift Scars?
A breast lift, like any surgical procedure, will result in some scarring. The extent of the scarring will depend on the extent of the surgery. A circumareola (or “donut”) mastopexy will result in less scarring, but can only address a minimal amount of sagging. A vertical mastopexy can address larger amounts of sagging, but will result in a larger scar.
Scars will initially be very red and obvious, but over time they will fade. Proper care and healing will help minimize the appearance of your scars, and there are some non-surgical procedures available that can help as well. It can take up to a year for breast lift scars to reach their final appearance.
Cost of a Breast Lift in Philadelphia
The average cost of a breast lift is approximately $9,500, but the total price depends on a number of factors, including:
- How much correction you need
- Whether you’ll be combining your breast lift with any other procedures, such as a breast augmentation
- Hospital, surgeon, and anesthesia fees
- Whether your surgery is outpatient or inpatient
- The skill of your surgeon
- Your geographic location
During your breast lift consultation in Philadelphia, Dr. Bottger will discuss all breast lift fees with you so that you know exactly how much your procedure will cost. He also offers plastic surgery financing plans to help patients afford this surgery.
Breastfeeding After a Breast Lift
If you have plans to breastfeed after breast lift surgery, the procedure should not affect your ability to nurse. While it’s important to note that some women are simply unable to breastfeed, with or without undergoing a breast lift, the surgery generally does not require complete removal of the nipple. Therefore, the nerves, blood vessels, and milk ducts responsible for lactating function can often be left intact. The most important thing to remember if you wish to preserve the ability to breastfeed is to communicate your wishes to Dr. Bottger before surgery so he can plan the procedure according to your needs.
In general, however, Dr. Bottger usually advises waiting to pursue a breast lift until after all plans for breastfeeding are completed. Since pregnancy and nursing are two of the most significant causes of recurrent breast sag, breastfeeding after the procedure can reduce the longevity of breast lift results and create the same concerns you sought to resolve with surgery.
Can I Get a Breast Lift Without Surgery?
Despite trends that claim to mimic the results of a breast lift without surgery, a breast lift procedure remains the only effective method of rejuvenating and reshaping breasts that have begun to sag. Exercises purported to work as a “natural breast lift” simply strengthen the pectoral muscles without addressing the actual factors that cause breasts to droop, such as stretched breast skin and diminished breast volume. As a result, there is currently no non-surgical technique to lift the breasts with the long-term results characteristic of a mastopexy procedure.
Additional Breast Lift FAQ
Will insurance cover breast lift surgery?
Most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic procedures like mastopexy; however, check with your provider to learn the benefits of your unique healthcare plan and whether coverage for some of the costs associated with surgery is possible. If you prefer to pay for your breast lift through a series of smaller installments, our practice does offer third-party financing with CareCredit® to help with out-of-pocket costs. Some plans offer qualified patients low to no interest rates, allowing flexible options for virtually any budget.
Will I maintain nipple sensation after a breast lift?
Sensation in the nipples may fluctuate during recovery and after the breast lift procedure—this varies from patient to patient and depends on which technique was used during your surgery. Some women who lose nipple sensitivity immediately after a breast lift find that sensation gradually returns to a certain extent. If you’re concerned about the potential loss of nipple sensation, don’t hesitate to speak to Dr. Bottger about your goals. He will discuss the risks of mastopexy and what you can expect with regard to your unique needs during your consultation.
How painful is a breast lift?
While you can expect the breasts to feel tender and swollen after surgery, patients usually experience discomfort after a breast lift rather than outright pain. This is normal during the recovery process and you should feel stronger each day as your body continues to heal. Be sure to get plenty of rest and follow Dr. Bottger’s post-operative instructions to help optimize and perhaps even accelerate your recovery. Oral pain medications can help you manage any discomfort in the meantime.
How can I reduce swelling after a breast lift?
Swelling should resolve naturally as your body heals after breast lift surgery, but the process can be accelerated by maintaining a healthy diet and wearing your sports bra as instructed.
Limiting salt intake and sticking to a nutritious diet can also help swelling subside. Try to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, protein, and other foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and zinc during your recovery. This can assist your body in healing and give you more energy throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and smoking until Dr. Bottger instructs otherwise.
What type of bra should I wear after breast lift surgery?
We recommend wearing a non-underwire sports bra with thick straps and clasps that open in the front. As your breasts settle and swelling fully subsides, you will eventually be able to forgo wearing a compression garment or bra if you desire. However, we recommend regularly wearing a bra to help support your breasts and reduce the effects of the aging process.
Schedule Your Breast Lift Consultation
If you’re considering a breast lift or another type of breast surgery, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Bottger at 610-355-1929 today to schedule your consultation. Dr. Bottger will answer all of your questions and find the best course of action to help you look and feel your best.
Dr. Bottger serves patients in Philadelphia, Newtown Square, and other nearby areas of Pennsylvania.