Are your breasts not as youthful as they once were? Do they sag and droop? Do your breasts feel less firm and have they changed size and shape? As the years go by, almost every woman notices a gradual decrease in the size, shape, and firmness of her breasts. Gravity, pregnancy, breast feeding, and weight changes all take their toll. The breast eventually sags, losing its youthful contours and perkiness. The breasts may look and feel old, but they don’t have to. A breast lift procedure (mastopexy) can help. A breast lift can reshape, rejuvenate, and lift the breasts to their normal youthful location. The breast lift procedure can also reduce the size of an enlarged nipple-areola complex.
What is a Breast Lift?
One of the most common surgeries performed by Dr. Phillip Chang of Aesthetica Cosmetic and Laser Surgery Center, a breast lift is a powerful procedure that has the ability to increase the size of the breast if it is too small, add roundness and cleavage to the breast, and reduce the size of the areola complex. The procedure is often combined with a tummy tuck or other procedure for optimum body contouring. Women who opt for breast reduction surgery automatically get a breast lift as part of that procedure. A breast lift can help lift the nipple complex and the breast to a more youthful position, as well as adding cleavage and roundness to the breast. A breast lift can also help reduce rashes and irritations beneath the breast, and reduce bra strap grooving when done in conjunction with a breast reduction. There will be a reduction in areola size, as well as a reduction in asymmetry if one breast is larger than the other.
Candidates for Breast Lift Surgery
There are many reasons why women might choose to have a breast lift procedure. The reasons, however, are unique to each individual. Some of the reasons are more intellectually based while some are more emotionally based. Whatever the reason, you can be sure that Dr. Chang will freely discuss them with you.
Your consultation will begin with a review of any relevant medical history. All patients need to be older than 18 years of age. Most women who desire smaller, more uplifted breasts are good candidates; it is only a question of which technique is most appropriate for you. All women over 40 require a preoperative mammogram, and all women over 45 require an EKG and standard blood work.
Choosing a Breast Reduction Technique and Size
Dr. Chang’s minimal scar breast lift ( mastopexy ) techniques include:
- Donut Mastopexy
- Vertical or Lollipop mastopexy
- Anchor Mastopexy
- Mastopexy with breast augmentation
Breast augmentation with a Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
A breast augmentation without a mastopexy is often the best solution for a patient who wants or is accepting of a larger breast and who has only a little bit of a breast sag and droop. For these patients, Dr. Chang has developed a technique of placing the implant and giving patients a lift without the need for the extra scarring of the other breast lift techniques. Sometimes, a breast implant is necessary to replace the lost breast volume that comes with age and pregnancy. The added breast volume from the breast implant creates a better size, shape, and cleavage.
Choosing your Breast Lift Technique and Size
During your initial consultation with Dr. Chang, you will discuss your desired breast size post-surgery. While size is a very personal decision, most patients choose to go to a C-cup. Dr. Chang will then will explain the breast lift surgical technique that is most appropriate to help you achieve that goal. There are basically three techniques used for a breast lift procedure. These include:
- Circumareola Technique (Donut Technique)
- Vertical Technique (Lollipop Technique)
- T-Incision Technique (Anchor Technique)
- Breast Lift with Implant
Dr. Chang actually prefers the slang terms in parenthesis and will in general use these terms during your consultation.
It is very important to find a plastic surgeon that performs all three surgical techniques routinely as you will often find some surgeons that perform the Anchor technique on everyone, regardless of size. Small reductions require only a Donut technique, middle to large reductions require a Lollipop technique, and the Anchor technique is reserved for very large reductions. The difference between the three is the degree of skin removed and therefore the degree of scarring. Some patients will also benefit from the addition of a breast implant. These patients usually have lost too much volume in their breasts to have roundness and cleavage without the placement of the round breast implant.
Circumareola Technique (Donut Technique)
The Donut breast lift technique removes breast tissue from an incision circumferentially around the areola complex (like a donut). Only a limited amount of skin and breast tissue can be removed through this technique so it is only appropriate for small breast lifts. This technique is often used if a breast implant is also needed to add extra size, extra volume, or cleavage. If too much skin is removed, the tension around the scar and around the areola complex often widens and actually looks less appealing than creating longer scars.
Vertical Technique (Lollipop Technique)
The Lollipop technique of breast lift surgery removes breast tissue from an incision around the areola complex but then extends downward to appear like a lollipop. This technique is most appropriate for middle to large breast reduction and lifts. Because there is less tension around the areola complex, the scars are more invisible and satisfying. This technique is often used if a breast implant is also needed to add extra size, extra volume, or cleavage. This technique also offers the most breast projection and cleavage.
T-Incision Technique (Anchor Technique)
The Anchor technique is reserved for larger breasts. It is the best technique for very large breasts but requires the most incisions. Because this technique is often used for the largest lifts and reductions, it is this technique that is used when insurance companies approve the procedure. This is also the technique used for very floppy breasts often seen with massive weight loss patients. These patients have lost a massive amount of fat and tissue volume and are left with very loose and excessive amounts of skin. These patients not only need the extra skin to be removed, but they also benefit from the placement of a breast implant to replace the lost breast volume and give cleavage and roundness to the breast.
Breast Lift with a Breast Implant
This is often the best solution for a patient who wants or is accepting of a larger breast who has only a little bit of a droop. For these patients, I have a technique of placing the implant and giving you a lift without the need for the extra scarring of the other breast lift techniques. A breast implant is also a possible component of any of the above three techniques if the patient needs extra volume and roundness.
Why Choose Dr. Chang for Your Breast Lift?
A board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Chang was first surgeon in Virginia to introduce minimal scar breast lift (mastopexy) techniques. Dr. Chang’s experience in breast lift surgery began by caring for patients with breast deformities and breast cancer patients who unfortunately lost all or part of their breasts due to cancer or some form of congenital breast deformities. This experience of caring for the most complicated breast deformities combined with a cosmetic fellowship in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach has made Dr. Chang a very sought after surgeon who performs revisions on problem breast augmentation, breast lift, and breast revision procedures previously done by other surgeons.
Dr. Chang is trained in the latest techniques of breast lift surgery including the Circumareolar (donut) Technique, The Vertical (lollipop) Technique, and the Anchor Techniques. Dr. Chang’s techniques in performing breast and facial cosmetic surgery procedures have been featured in New Beauty Magazine and I have been listed as a Top Doctor by Health and Beauty Magazine for 3 years.
What to Expect
After your breast lift, you may find it is easier to fit into clothes and bras, easier to exercise functionally and psychologically, and you may be less self-conscious with your husband or significant other.
Patients will recover at home (or at the Lansdowne Resort for out of town patients). Some patients can elect to purchase an On-Q pain pump which will eliminate pain for the first 3-4 days. Believe it or not, breast lift surgery is a relatively non painful procedure and most patients are off of strong pain medicine in a day or two. Most patients return to work in 7-10 days and may resume light exercise within 2 weeks. More strenuous exercise may resume in 3-4 weeks. Breast swelling can be dramatic for up to 4 weeks and requires 6 to 12 months to completely resolve. Final breast shape, settling, and size takes up to 6-12 months. Bruising and swelling take 2-4 weeks to improve.
The first postoperative visit is a day or two after your procedure. During this visit, your initial dressings are removed and you may start wearing a sports bra. Underwire bras are discouraged for the first 4 weeks. Incisions are generally closed with absorbable sutures under the skin. There are no sutures to be removed. The scars normally take about a year to mature.
Will Insurance Pay for a Breast Lift ( Mastopexy ) Surgery?
Insurance will often pay for breast reduction surgery if you are at least a DD cup but in general will not pay for a breast lift procedure by itself. Most insurance companies will cover the reduction procedure if more than 500 grams can be removed from each breast. Part of your consultation will review the insurance requirements which include the two points above. Your insurance company will generally require a letter stating that I can remove at least 500 grams of breast tissue from each breast as well as pictures documenting your size.
Other Types of Breast Surgery Dr. Chang Performs
- Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
- Breast Lift with Breast Implant
- Breast Augmentation
- Breast Reduction
- Nipple Reduction
- Breast Areola Reduction
- Mommy Makeover
The Mommy Makeover
The “Mommy Makeover” procedure has become a very important part of Dr. Chang’s practice. The majority of his patients are either new moms or women who have had children. Anyone who has experienced the joy of pregnancy could tell you that although their children are a blessing, what the childbearing and childrearing process has done to their body is not. Most would tell you:
- Breasts have lost their volume and roundness
- Breasts are more droopy and often larger
- Areola is larger and nipples are more elongated
- Tummy is stretched and sticks out more
- They have fat in places they have never been fat before
- The face is more haggard (see topics on nonsurgical rejuvenation)
These women benefit from a combination of procedures that Dr. Chang calls a Mommy Makeover, which includes:
- Breast Augmentation with or without a breast lift (mastopexy) or breast reduction
- Full tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck
- Liposuction of the flanks and thighs
- Nonsurgical facial fillers and Botox