Breast Lift – Dr. Burton Sundin & Dr. Reps Sundin, Virginia
If you have noticed that your breasts don’t look quite as youthful as they once did and that the effects of gravity are weighing you down, a breast lift may be just what you need. Fortunately there is a way to restore a sense of confidence and a youthful look. A breast lift or mastopexy is a surgical procedure that reshapes and raises the breasts by removing extra skin – this tightens and supports a new breast shape and eliminates breast sagging or ptosis. The breast lift procedure can also reduce the size of the darker skin surrounding the nipple called the areola. Often, women who seek breast lift surgery to resolve these issues also consider breast implants at the same time as a way to change the size and firmness of their breasts.
A breast lift or mastopexy can rejuvenate the appearance of the breast and can be particularly helpful in addressing sagging of the breasts that can be associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding. Breast lifting can be coupled with a tummy tuck to create a “Mommy Makeover”. A mastopexy is also the solution for breasts that are sagging over existing implants.
A breast lift or “Mommy Makeover” may be the right procedure for you, but each patient is an individual. During your visit to Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Sundin will address any questions you have and customize a surgical plan to meet your needs.
Are you a good candidate for a breast lift?
Think carefully about your expectations and be realistic about your goals. While a breast lift procedure will restore the look and shape of your breasts, you should candidly discuss with Dr. Sundin the reasons you are considering a breast lift procedure and what other issues you may have with your appearance. Doing so will give Dr. Sundin the chance to discuss realistic outcomes and how these will impact your appearance and self-confidence. Together, you both may consider other procedures as well.
Women who are physically and emotionally healthy and who have completed their families are the best candidates for mastopexy. Women who are generally satisfied with their looks, but who have small, sagging breasts often achieve excellent results. While breasts of any size can be improved, the results may not last as long in larger breasts.
If you are planning to have more children, Dr. Sundin will often recommend holding off on having the breast lift done. While it does not necessarily affect future pregnancies or commonly interfere with breast-feeding; pregnancy will have an impact on the results of a breast lift surgery. This can mean that another breast lift is required to maintain the results of the first procedure.
Any surgery carries a risk of complication from bleeding or infection or, even more remotely, a reaction to the anesthesia. Other risks that are present with all surgeries include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Conscientiously following the doctor’s recommendations, both before and after any surgery, will greatly reduce your risk. Cessation of smoking and appropriate diet and exercise also decrease overall risks of surgery.
A mastopexy procedure requires the placement of scars on the breast to remove excess skin, lift the breast, place implants, and reposition the nipple. Although mastopexy does leave permanent scars, these scars are placed in favorable positions that optimize appearance and deemphasize scarring. Most scars on the breast heal very favorably, however, some people have an increased tendency to form unfavorable scars.
Dr. Sundin will discuss other risks specific to mastopexy with you during your consultation. These include but are not limited to asymmetry, implant failure, changes in sensitivity or viability of the nipple, and possible need for revisionary surgery.
Everyone has a different view of what size and shape will be appropriate and it is important to listen to Dr. Sundin and ask as many questions as you can before making your decision.
During your initial visit to Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Sundin will thoroughly examine your breasts and discuss with you the variables that may affect the procedure, such as your age, your health, your risk factors, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin. During this visit, you will also discuss with the doctor where the nipple and areola should be placed and whether implants are a consideration to supplement the breast lift procedure. Dr. Sundin will also describe the surgical procedure in great detail and explain the risks and limitations so you can make the best decision.
A sizing system is used to help you with your decision about the size of any implant used. Dr. Sundin uses the B-4 Bra system which enables you to try the implant in a sizing bra. You can even take home sizers so that the effect can be visualized with different clothes.
In addition, your surgeon will also discuss where your breast lift will be done and what kind of anesthesia will be used. Dr. Sundin always has time to discuss your anxiety and concerns as well.
Dr. Sundin may require you get a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. You’ll also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery. Although most patients are surprised at the minimal discomfort they experience after their surgeries, you should probably have a friend or family member help you around your home for a few days if needed.
All surgeries are performed at accredited outpatient surgery centers at the office location or at a separate location very near Dr. Sundin’s office. Currently Dr. Sundin utilizes surgery centers located on the St. Mary’s and Henrico Doctor’s Forest campuses. The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. Admission to the hospital is only necessary for larger surgeries or multiple procedure combinations, which require longer anesthesia. Typically such admissions last only one to two days.
If you would like a recovery nurse to assist you in the postoperative period, Dr. Sundin can arrange this for you, but this is not a requirement.
Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll sleep through the operation. In selected patients – particularly when a smaller incision is being made – Dr. Sundin may use local anesthesia combined with a sedative to make you drowsy and relaxed. In either case, you will feel minimal or no discomfort during the surgery.
Mastopexy usually takes 1½ to 3½ hours, depending on the extent of sagging or breast ptosis. Breast lift techniques vary, but the most common procedure at Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery involves an inverted T-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast.
The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position. The skin surrounding the areola is then brought down to reshape the breast. Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downwards from the nipple area, and along the lower crease of the breast.
Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions. One such procedure is the “doughnut (or concentric) mastopexy,” in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped area of skin is removed. This breast lift technique can be used to reduce the size of the areola.
Patients who have elected to have breast implants done at the same time as the breast lift will naturally experience a lengthier surgical procedure. Breast implants are typically either inserted in a pocket crafted by the surgeon directly under the skin or under the muscle of the chest wall itself.
After surgery, you will notice bruising, swelling, and your breasts may be uncomfortable for a day or two, but there shouldn’t be severe pain. Dr. Sundin will prescribe medication that will relieve any discomfort you do feel. You will have gauze bandages over your incisions over which you will either wear a surgical bra or an elastic bandage. In a matter of days, these will be replaced by a soft support bra. You’ll wear this support bra over your gauze dressings 24 hours a day for the next 3 to 4 weeks. The stitches will dissolve themselves over time and will not need to be removed. You will apply antibiotic ointment (Backtracking) to the incision sites.
A common concern is some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin caused by the swelling after surgery. This lack of sensation usually reverses as the swelling subsides over the next six weeks or so. In some patients, however, it can last a year or more, and occasionally, the loss of sensitivity may be permanent.
If you have any other issues during the recuperative process, you should contact Dr. Sundin at Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery as once.
Healing is a gradual process and everyone’s progress is different. You will probably feel like getting up and around in a day or two, but don’t plan on returning to your normal activities and pace for a week or two at the very least. Depending on how you feel, it may take longer. If you have any unusual symptoms or other concerns, you will be instructed to contact Dr. Sundin.
Each patient will be given detailed instructions for resuming their normal activities. Every patient is asked to no lift anything heavy over their head for 3 to 4 weeks regardless of the procedure. In addition, you may be instructed to avoid sex for a week or more and to avoid strenuous sports for about a month. After that, you can resume these activities slowly and as your level of discomfort and your stamina permits.
At the Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Sundin makes every effort to deliver a satisfying cosmetic result with each breast lift procedure. Still, it’s important to remember that mastopexy scars can be extensive and are always permanent. Scars from breast lift surgery often appear bumpy and quite red at first. Gradually, over time, most scars become less obvious, sometimes even fading to less noticeable white lines. How faithfully the patient adheres to Dr. Sundin’s pre- and post-op recommendations greatly improve the patient’s healing. Dr. Sundin will start you on a specialized postoperative regimen of scar treatment and massage.
Bare in mind that a breast lift won’t keep you firm forever — gravity, aging, weight fluctuations, even pregnancy, can take their toll on your breasts again. It is worth considering having breast implants done at the same time as your breast lifts for this reason. When done together, the results can often last for years.
Dr. Sundin’s vast experience with patients just like you helps him guide you to a successful breast lift result. At Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, we know that your satisfaction with your breast lift surgery is likely to be greater if you understand the procedure thoroughly and if your expectations are realistic. We welcome your questions and look forward to your first visit with us.
Some content provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.