Breast Lift (Mastopexy): Understanding Your Treatment Options

Most women begin to experience some degree of breast sagging as they age, especially if they have children or carry excess body weight. A breast lift surgery helps to reposition drooping breasts to achieve a perkier, more youthful appearance. The average cost for this procedure is more than $4500.

Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Overview - 1014

The Skinny


A mastopexy or breast lift surgery yields improved body contours by giving the breasts a younger-looking, perkier projection. This surgical procedure lifts sagging breasts, balances uneven breasts, corrects drooping nipples, addresses stretched areolas and creates a more youthful breast shape and appearance.

The procedure is quite popular among mothers who want to restore their pre-pregnancy shape. This breast reconstruction cosmetic surgery is often performed in conjunction with other procedures in a comprehensive “mommy makeover”, like a tummy tuck, breast reduction surgery, or breast augmentation surgery (breast implants), for instance.

This article reviews the pros and cons of a breast lift procedure, who makes a good candidate, some before- and aftercare tips, and details about the surgery.


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The Specifics

Ideal Candidate

With aging, loss of connective tissue like collagen and elastin causes the skin to lose some of its firmness and elasticity. The effects of decades of gravity also contribute to sagging, drooping skin all over the body, including the skin of the beasts. Women with smaller breasts may not be affected by these changes as much as women with larger breasts.

According to the Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank, more than 142,000 breast lifts were performed in 2017, making it one of the top 5 surgical procedures performed in the USA. Many women report feeling more self-confident, attractive, younger, and more fit after the surgery.

A breast lift can be an excellent treatment option for any woman with drooping breasts. Mastopexy is commonly requested by women with:

  • Adequate-sized, pendulous breasts that hang down too loosely
  • Small breasts that lack tissue volume or firmness
  • Breasts of unequal size or appearance
  • Large, heavy breasts that sag
  • Downward-pointing nipples
  • Stretched areolas

Along with aging, pregnancy, body weight fluctuations, genetics, and gravity all affect breast contour. A breast lift procedure can remove excess skin and create a more youthful shape. The best candidates for mastopexy:

  • Are mentally stable
  • Are in good physical health
  • Have a healthy body weight
  • Have a positive mental attitude about the surgery
  • Maintain realistic expectations about the procedure and possible results

If you are considering a breast lift, then it is best to discuss your goals with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in the procedure. The doctor can determine if you are a good candidate and give you a realistic view of the procedure and possible results.

Cost of a Breast Lift

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the average cost of a breast lift (a.k.a. mastopexy) in 2019 procedure was $4,693, but there are other possible expenses that should be considered when booking a procedure. To better understand the price of the procedure, check out our complete guide to breast lift cost.

Pros & Cons of the Procedure

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) states that the pros of a breast lift include improved breast symmetry, shape, and projection. Most women that have this surgery are satisfied with the results and feel that their breasts are more youthful and attractive than before. Previous patients often report feeling more confident and beautiful in or out of their clothing.

The cons of a breast lift include:

  • The average cost of more than $4600
  • Scarring that is visible along the breast crease
  • Results that diminish over time due to aging and gravity

Never rush into deciding when it comes to having surgery performed. Take your time to consider all aspects of a breast lift before committing, and be sure you have reasonable expectations about the results you can achieve.


To better understand the healing and downtime associated with the procedure, check out our complete guide to breast lift recovery.

Side Effects

Serious or lasting side effects of a breast lift procedure are rare. However, you should expect mild-to-moderate pain and inflammation for a couple of weeks afterward. Bleeding, bruising, oozing, and redness are also common but temporary.

It is possible to have an adverse reaction to the anesthesia agent that is used during a breast lift. Other possible but rare side effects of mastopexy include:

  • Hematoma (blood accumulation under the skin)
  • Seroma (fluid accumulation under the skin)
  • Damage to underlying breast structures
  • Changes in nipple/areola sensation
  • Postsurgical infection

Although this type of body contouring plastic surgery procedure has high success rates and patient satisfaction, unsatisfactory results are possible. A botched surgery can necessitate further surgeries for correction. It is very important to take your time selecting the best plastic surgeon for your individual needs.

Everyone heals at a unique pace depending on various personal factors. While most side effects of a breast lift should subside within 2-3 weeks, some residual effects can last 3 months or more. Talk to your surgeon about any side effects that continue the past 3-4 weeks.

Procedural Details

Mastopexy procedures are typically performed using general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Patients should arrange transportation to and from the surgery clinic or hospital where the procedure will be performed. It is good to have someone to stay at least one night after the surgery to monitor for any developing adverse effects as the anesthesia agent works its way out of the patient’s system.

There are different techniques the surgeon can use to achieve the goals for a breast lift. The doctor will choose the best technique based on factors including breast size, breast shape, position and size of the areolas, skin elasticity, amount of extra skin, and the degree of breast sagging.

There are four different types of surgical breast lifts The name of each denotes the incision patterns made in each breast. These are crescent (“half moon”), periareolar (“donut”), vertical (“lollipop”), and inverted T (“anchor”).

Crescent Lift

  • A crescent-shaped incision made halfway around the top edge of the areola
  • Achieves minimal lift when the incision is closed
  • Normally performed with breast augmentation
  • Very little noticeable scarring

Periareolar Lift

  • One continuous scar around the outer circumference of the areola
  • Can correct mild but not moderate or severe sagging
  • Typically performed with breast augmentation
  • Discreet scarring around the areola

Vertical Lift

  • Corrects moderate sagging and breast shape concerns
  • The first incision made around the outer edge of the areolas
  • The second incision from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease

Inverted T Lift

  • Can correct severely sagging breasts
  • Commonly performed along with breast reduction surgery
  • Same incision pattern as the vertical lift but with an extra incision along the breast crease

Generally, a Surgical Breast Lift procedure involves:

  • Making an incision
  • Removal of extra skin and excess breast tissue
  • Shifting the areola and nipple to a higher position
  • Deep tissue suturing to support the new breast position
  • Closing the incision with dissolvable sutures

An RF Assisted Breast Lift is a non-surgical breast lifting outpatient procedure that involves the use of radio frequencies to generate heat within the breast tissue. This naturally stimulates the production of important proteins like elastin and collagen that naturally firm and tighten the skin. This procedure can have dramatic results for some women, requires very little downtime, and requires only small, discrete incisions.

Your plastic surgeon will be able to recommend the type of breast lift that is most suitable for your unique goals and considerations.

Before & Aftercare

Your aesthetic plastic surgeon will provide you with a comprehensive list of preoperative instructions during your initial consultation. The doctor will need information about your medical history and will perform a physical examination to determine if you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure.

In many cases, a surgeon will recommend weight loss, smoking cessation, discontinuing the use of blood thinners like aspirin, limiting alcohol consumption, ensuring adequate nutrition and hydration, or other lifestyle changes before the surgery can be performed. This helps to ensure the safest and most aesthetic breast lift results.

For about 2 weeks after a breast lift, heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or work, driving, and hot showers should be avoided. Bandages, surgical drains, and compression garments may be used as needed to ensure proper healing and hygiene.

Mild-to-moderate redness, swelling, and pain are common for a couple of weeks after a breast lift. The doctor may prescribe pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, or antibiotics to help manage these common symptoms of postsurgical recovery. It is very important to follow the surgeon’s instructions to expedite safe healing.

The Takeaway


A breast lift surgery can raise the breasts to a higher position, reposition the nipples and areolas, remove excess tissue, and tighten the remaining skin to create a fitter appearance. This procedure is considered safe for healthy women who are concerned about breast drooping that is common with age, especially after pregnancy and childbirth.

It takes at least 2-3 months after the surgery to see the full results. The position and shape of the breasts will continue to change until full recovery is achieved. Most patients report increased satisfaction as time passes. Scarring on the incision lines will be as minimal as possible, and will continue to fade over time.

The results of a breast lift are long-lasting but can be affected by age, gravity, weight gain, weight loss, and other factors. Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and a nutritious water-rich diet can help results to last longer.

Take your time making the important decision to have a breast lift surgery performed. Be sure you understand all the possible outcomes, both positive and negative before you commit.

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