What Is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift, or a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that will both raise and firm the breast by removing excess skin and tightening the breast tissue. This results in reshaping and supporting the breast.
A Breast Lift May Enhance Your Appearance
The appearance of a woman’s breasts will change over the years, most often in the loss of their firmness and youthful shape. Breasts tend to sag and droop because of lost skin elasticity, and sometimes the areola becomes enlarged. These changes can occur from:
- Fluctuations in weight
A mastopexy creates a youthful and uplifted breast profile, rejuvenating your overall figure. You’ll have natural-looking breasts that match your body’s proportions and a renewed self-confidence when you wear your clothing or bathing suit.
What a Breast Lift May Not Do
Traditionally, breast lift surgery will not round out the upper part of the breasts or significantly change their size. If your end result with surgery is for your breasts to look either fuller or smaller, instead consider either breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery. We do have a new and exciting option with standard mastopexy which is known as “suture shaping”. The skin incisions are exactly the same, but we take extra time to use permanent sutures to shape the breast tissue into more of a sphere, mimicking the shape of a breast implant. Our goal is to create a greater degree of tissue in the upper pole of the breast. The early results of adding this technique to mastopexy are encouraging. We do find that the type of breast tissue a patient has may affect the long-tem results with suture shaping. Dr. Van Natta will discuss this exciting new option with you in greater detail at the time of your consultation.
Should I Consider a Breast Lift?
Breast lift surgery is a personal decision, one that you should do for yourself and not to fit someone else's ideal image for you. Consider a breast lift only if:
- Your weight remains stable, and you are physically healthy
- You are a non-smoker
- You understand the results to expect with a breast lift
- It bothers you that your breasts have lost their shape and/or sag
- Your breasts appear flatter, somewhat elongated in their shape or appear pendulous
- When not wearing support, your nipples are lower than the breast crease
- Your nipples and areolas face downward
- Your breast skin is stretched and your areolas are enlarged
- Your breasts appear uneven, one is lower than the other breast.
What To Expect During Your Consultation With Dr. Bruce Van Natta
A safe and successful breast lift procedure depends very much on your being completely candid during your consultation. Be sure to address any problems, concerns and questions with Dr. Van Natta. He will ask you a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.
Be Prepared to Discuss:
- Why you want breast lift surgery and your expectations and desired outcome
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
- Family history of breast cancer and results of any mammograms or previous biopsies
Dr. Van Natta May Also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine your breasts, and may take detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality, placement of your nipples and areolas
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss likely outcomes of breast lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
- Discuss the use of anesthesia during your breast lift
Preparing For Surgery
Prior To Surgery, Dr. Van Natta May Ask You To:
- Get lab testing or a general medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Get a baseline mammogram before surgery and another one after surgery to help detect any future changes in your breast tissue
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special Instructions You Receive Will Cover:
- What to do the day of surgery
- Post-operative care and follow-up
Your breast lift surgery will be performed at Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, an AAAHC accredited facility utilizing seasoned anesthesiologists from St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
You’ll Need Help
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
What Occurs With Breast Lift Surgery?
Your breast lift surgery can be performed utilizing various incision techniques and patterns which will be determined based on the:
- Size and shape of your breast
- Position and size of your areolas
- Degree your breast is sagging
- Skin elasticity and overall quality
- Amount of extra skin involved
Step 1 - Anesthetics
You will have a general anesthetic administered by a board certified Anesthesiologist.
Step 2 - Incisions
Dr. Van Natta typically uses an anchor shaped incision:
- Circles the areola, then downward vertically and horizontally along the breast crease
(Illustrations courtesy of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
Step 3 - Breast Reshaping
After the incisions are made by Dr. Van Natta, he will then:
- Lift and reshape the underlying breast tissue improving breast form and firmness.
- Reposition the nipple and areola to a more youthful-looking and natural height.
- Reduce enlarged areolas if appropriate by excising skin at the perimeter.
- Remove any excess breast skin to compensate for any loss of elasticity.
- This procedure typically lasts approximately 2-2 ½ hours.
Step 4 - Closing of the Incisions
Lastly, any remaining skin is tightened as Dr. Van Natta closes the incisions. While some incision lines will be concealed in the natural breast contours, other lines may be visible on the surface of the breast. Although incision lines are permanent, they will most likely fade over time.
To create and support your newly shaped breasts, sutures will be layered deep within the tissue of your breast. Incisions may be closed with skin adhesives, surgical tape, and/or sutures.
Step 5 - Seeing Your Results
Breast lift surgery results will be visible immediately to you, and you’ll realize the fulfillment of your goal for breasts that are now youthful-looking and uplifted.
Over time, swelling from post-surgery will diminish and your incision lines will fade. Your satisfaction with your new breast shape will grow as you continue with your recovery.
Breast Lift Surgery Risks and Complications, Important Facts You Should Know
Having breast lift surgery is ultimately your decision only. You’ll need to weigh the benefits of achieving your new look with any of the potential risks and complications.
Dr. Van Natta and/or his staff will explain to you in detail all of the risks that can be associated with breast lift surgery. Once you are comfortable with your decision to proceed and you fully understand the procedure, its possible risks and complications, you will then be asked to sign consent forms.
Possible risks and complications may include:
- Hematoma or bleeding
- Incisions that heal poorly
- Temporary or permanent changes in your nipple or breast sensation
- Irregularities in the form and shape of your breast and asymmetry
- Bruising/swelling of your skin, discoloration and permanent changes in skin pigmentation
- Allergic reactions to tape, glues, sutures, topical preparations or injections
- Fat necrosis, where fatty tissues deep in your skin die
- Accumulation of fluids
- Breast firmness that is unnatural
- Possible loss of the nipple and areola, either partial or total
- Cardiac/pulmonary complications or deep vein thrombosis which occur extremely rarely
- Rare occurrence of blood clots
- Persistent pain
- May need additional surgery to make revisions
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with Dr. Van Natta. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcomes or preoperative stress. Be sure to discuss these feelings with Dr. Van Natta during your consultation.
Other Important Breast Lift Considerations:
- May interfere with other diagnostic procedures, although rarely.
- Piercing of the breast and nipple can cause infection.
- If you are planning to become pregnant, your breast skin may stretch during pregnancy and negate the results of your breast lift.
- Breastfeeding may be more difficult.
Where Will I Have My Surgery?
Your breast lift surgery will be performed at Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, an AAAHC accredited facility utilizing seasoned anesthesiologists from St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dr. Van Natta and his assisting staff will ensure your safety and make you as comfortable as possible.
When You Go Home
As with any surgical procedure, once you are home, if you experience any of the following symptoms: pain in your chest, shortness or difficulty breathing, or unusual beating of your heart, seek medical attention right away. Any of these symptoms may require you to be hospitalized or receive additional treatment. Although it is common to receive good results with your breast lift surgery, it cannot be guaranteed. Sometimes it may not be possible to achieve the results you desire with one procedure making an additional surgery necessary.
Down time for Dr. Van Natta’s breast lift is minimal – usually a long weekend is sufficient for recovery. Following Dr. Van Natta’s postoperative instructions will be critical to the successful outcome of your breast lift surgery. Do not subject your surgical incisions to any of the following while you are in the healing process: excessive force, swelling, motion or abrasion. Following your surgery, dressings or bandages will be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling. You will also need to wear either a support bra or elastic bandage to support your breasts as they heal to minimize any swelling. The stretching and reaching out of your arms will be limited for the first month.
Dr. Van Natta will provide you with your specific care instructions after your surgery.
Specific Instructions After Surgery Include:
- Caring for your breasts
- Applying medications or taking oral medications that aid healing and reduce infection risk
- Looking at your surgical site to notice any possible concerns or any changes in your overall health
- Follow-up appointments with Dr. Van Natta.
Long-Lasting Breast Lift Results
The results of your breast lift are long-lasting and will improve over the course of a few months as your breast shape and position settle. Your incision lines although permanent, will continue to fade. With time, your breasts may gradually change with the effects of aging and with gravity. If you wish to retain your new, youthful look longer, you should:
- Maintain a stable weight
- Eat healthy
- Live an active and healthy lifestyle
If you are planning to have a baby, discuss this with Dr. Van Natta during your initial consultation. Having a breast lift will not usually impact the function of your breast; however the changes that will occur in your breasts while you are pregnant may minimize or even reverse your breast lift results. If you are planning to embark on a significant weight loss journey, this should also be discussed with Dr. Van Natta before surgery.
What Are the Costs of Your Breast Lift
Cost should be a consideration in any elective surgery (health insurance will not cover the costs) such as a breast lift and these costs can vary based on your surgeon's experience as well as where their office is located. Be sure to ask our practice about our patient financing plans.
Costs Can Include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Facility costs of where you have your surgery
- Fees for anesthesia
- Prescription medicine
- Post-surgery garments
- Additional medical tests
If you experience a rare complication requiring reoperation, Dr. Van Natta often won’t charge for his services, but you may well have additional expenses for the operating room as well as anesthesia.
Your Satisfaction Involves More than a Fee
Keep in mind when you are choosing a plastic surgeon for your breast lift surgery, that you should be comfortable with him or her and their experience level. These are equally as important as the final cost of the surgery. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Breast Lift Glossary
- Areola: Pigmented skin surrounding the nipple.
- Breast augmentation: Also known as augmentation mammaplasty, breast enlargement by surgery.
- Breast lift: Also known as mastopexy; surgery to lift the breasts.
- Breast reduction: Also known as reduction mammaplasty, reduction of breast size by surgery.
- Excision: To remove the skin.
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Mammogram: An x-ray image of the breast.
- Mastopexy: Surgery to lift the breasts.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
Questions To Ask Your Plastic Surgeon
- Are you certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- Were you specifically trained in the field of plastic surgery?
- How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
- Is the office-based surgical facility where you perform surgery accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- What will be expected of me in order to get the best results?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- Is there a specific surgical technique recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- How can I expect my breasts to look over time?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my breast lift?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure, and what results are reasonable for me?
Things You Should Know About Dr. Van Natta
- Dr. Bruce Van Natta is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- He was trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery and had 5 years of general surgery training as well as 2 ½ years of plastic surgery training.
- He has been in practice for 25 years.
- His surgical facility, Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, and it is state-licensed and Medicare-certified.
- He also has hospital privileges to perform this procedure at St. Vincent Hospital.
- He is known both locally and nationally as an expert in breast surgery.