Dr. Kirby's Blog

On the Fence About Having a Breast Lift? A Female Plastic Surgeon Answers the Most Asked Breast Lift Questions

Published November 20, 2020 by Kirby Plastic Surgery

happy woman considering a breast lift asks questions to dr. emily kirby

Breast lifts consistently rank as a top 5 procedure, with nearly 150,000 of these surgeries performed annually. When pregnancy, nursing, weight change, or aging have left the breasts flattened or drooping, a breast lift (mastopexy) can restore your natural, symmetrical breast shape. It can also help you feel more confident with the way clothing—especially swimsuits—fit on your body.

Surgery is a commitment, however, so you should be sure that a breast lift will achieve the results you want before booking your procedure. To help you weigh the pros and cons of breast lift, we’re sharing answers to your top 10 breast lift questions from our own board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Emily Kirby.

  1. Do I really need a breast lift?
  2. Will a bigger implant help me avoid a breast lift?
  3. Can a breast lift fix asymmetry?
  4. Will my breasts look natural after a breast lift?
  5. Is breast lift safer than implants?
  6. What are the incision options for breast lift?
  7. How big are scars after a breast lift?
  8. Can you get a breast lift if you have chest tattoos?
  9. Should I get implants with my breast lift?
  10. Is there such a thing as a non-surgical breast lift?

1. Do I really need a breast lift?

A breast lift is the only way to restore a natural-looking, proportionate breast after sagging has set in. Breast sagging is the visual sign of weakening ligaments and loss of volume in the tissues of the breasts, which must be addressed surgically to elevate your breast tissue and create a firm, shapely new contour. Additionally, if your areolas (pigmented area surrounding the nipple) are stretched, a breast lift reshapes and repositions them.

2. Will a bigger implant help me avoid a breast lift?

Some patients hope that having a breast augmentation alone perks up sagging breasts and avoids a breast lift altogether, but, unfortunately, this is not the case. If you have a degree of sagging that merits a breast lift, breast implants will only make your breasts larger—not perkier. Larger, poorly sized breast implants also contribute to drooping, by weighing down already stretched tissues.

For patients with mild sagging who want a modest implant size, a lift may not be necessary. But if breast sagging is significant, a lift is usually necessary to get attractive results, regardless of implant size or profile.

3. Can a breast lift fix asymmetry?

Yes, a breast lift usually makes your breasts more symmetrical. If your breasts are moderately asymmetrical in size or shape, or if your areolas are in different positions, then a breast lift can reshape the breast tissue and correct sagging so that the breasts are more evenly proportioned, with areolas positioned more appropriately.

Certain cases of significant asymmetry may require a breast lift to be combined with breast augmentation or reduction in the opposite breast.

4. Will my breasts look natural after a breast lift?

Yes. A breast lift repositions your breasts into a natural-looking shape. While some patients are concerned about scars following a breast lift, meticulous surgical techniques combined with advanced scar treatments leave minimal scars that are usually barely perceptible once healed.

5. Is breast lift safer than implants?

Both breast lift and breast augmentation with implants have a history of being very safe procedures. Breast implants are now among the most studied medical devices in history and research studies continue to monitor for safety. The latest generation of breast implants have cohesive silicone gel filling, making them appear more like gummy bears when ruptured, sticking together.

Breast lift and breast augmentation are both typically performed under general anesthesia, which carries the same anesthetic risks as any major surgery. Choose a doctor who operates in an accredited surgical facility, prioritizes patient safety, and holds board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It is also critical to share your complete medical history before surgery.

6. What are the incision options for breast lift?

Your breast lift incision plan will be chosen based on the amount of lift needed and personalized to match your anatomy and meet your appearance goals. The primary breast lift incisions include:

  • Anchor: For patients with a significant amount of sagging breast tissue, especially after weight loss, breast lift incisions are often placed around the areola, vertically from the areola to the inframammary fold, and along the fold in an “anchor” shape.
  • Lollipop: A “lollipop” incision extends around the areola and down to the breast fold. These incisions are used most often to correct breast changes after pregnancy.
  • Donut: For areola resizing and cases of mild drooping, circular incisions are made around the areola.
  • Crescent: The crescent-shaped incision is made around a part of the areola and can be used for nipple repositioning or correcting very mild breast drooping.

7. How big are scars after a breast lift?

The length of your scar depends on your planned incisions, but the appearance of your scar can be greatly minimized by following your surgeon’s scar care instructions. In most cases, with proper care, scars become barely perceptible after about one year.

Some patients, however, are more prone to developing thicker, more visible scars. If you are concerned with how your scars will look after a breast lift, or have a history of unusual scarring, talk to your surgeon so your surgeon can provide individualized guidance.

8. Can you get a breast lift if you have chest tattoos?

It is safe to get a breast lift with existing tattoos, but a breast lift may alter the appearance of your tattoo(s). If the artwork is located along the top half of your breast, then it may not be altered by a breast lift. Incisions located around the areola and the lower part of the breast, breast lift surgery will likely distort the artwork or remove part of the inked area.

Fortunately, a tattoo artist can typically touch up your work in the affected areas after surgery. If you desire a breast lift but believe that it will interfere with your tattoos, I recommend scheduling a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to learn how breast lift surgery may alter your specific tattoos.

9. Should I get implants with my breast lift?

A breast lift will improve the shape of your breasts, but will not add additional volume. If you want more cleavage or larger breasts in general, then you may choose to add breast implants, which can usually be placed during your breast lift procedure. Especially after breastfeeding, your breasts may appear deflated, and breast implants can help restore your pre-pregnancy breast shape (or give you a boost in size) while the breast lift improves nipple position and breast shape.

To get a sense of the results my patients have had from breast augmentation, breast lift, and a combination of the two procedures, visit my gallery of before and after photos. Patients who have booked a consultation also have access to an online portal with many additional before-and-after photos using login access. Looking at these real patient photos helps patients understand why certain procedures are necessary to achieve their desired result.

10. Is there such a thing as a non-surgical breast lift?

Non-surgical treatments for tightening skin have come a long way, so you may hope that drooping breasts can also get firmer with minimally-invasive treatments. But the breasts work differently than skin, and sagging breasts cannot be addressed without surgery.

The structure of skin is composed largely of collagen and elastin, which naturally decline with age—not to mention outside influences like stress, junk food, and smoking, which accelerate the process. As the skin loses collagen and elastin, it begins to appear thin and wrinkle more easily. By promoting collagen production, non-surgical skin tightening treatments help to undo aging in the face.

In the breasts, however, most sagging is caused by weakened ligaments within the breast. These internal structures cannot be repositioned without surgery, making a breast lift the only option to raise the breasts higher on the chest.

Consult with board certified female plastic surgeon, Dr. Emily Kirby.

With extensive experience performing Fort Worth breast lift, breast augmentation, and breast reduction, Dr. Kirby is well-qualified to help you decide on the ideal procedures to achieve your desired outcome. Schedule an appointment by calling (817) 292-4200 or contacting us online. With Dr. Kirby, you can expect a listening ear and a highly capable surgeon who is ready to work closely with you to achieve gorgeous, natural results.

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