A great push-up bra can be a girl’s best friend. When the bra comes off, however, a growing number of women sorely miss the perky breasts they enjoyed in their younger days.
Latest statistics from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) report that close to 150,000 women decided to “get something done,” opting for a breast lift. “You look at any magazine cover or TV show and you see beautiful, shapely breasts. It’s an aesthetic standard that is difficult to realize for the average woman,” explains Dr. Richard Restifo, a board certified plastic surgeon in Connecticut. “Pregnancy, time, gravity and genetics conspire against this ideal, making breasts smaller and droopier. The good news is we have tools to make many women regain the fullness and shape they thought was lost forever.”
Causes and Candidates
Age, hormones, significant weight, loss and multiple pregnancies can all contribute to sagging breasts. Sometimes breasts may be the right size, but they droop (ptosis) and lack firmness or substance. The location of the nipple areola complex may change in relation to the body of the breast. Breasts have no muscle, but they do have ligaments and skin that stretches and often cannot recoil. A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, will reshape sagging breasts to a more naturally rounded shape and repositions the breast and nipple to a more youthful height and projection.
According to Restifo, there are several key elements that are addressed during breast lift consultation. “The women I see who are seeking to correct drooping breasts are typically women who have had children. For them it is a repositioning issue. Younger women who have not yet started a family come see me for breast augmentation. For them it is a volume issue. For women in their late 30’s and 40’s implants alone are not enough.”
While patients usually have a sense that they need more than just an implant, an expert breast surgeon will talk at length about the Is a Breast Lift Necessary? | The Plastic Surgery Channel and what each can accomplish. “Many times we can solve their concerns with just an implant, but when we can’t – it’s important to recognize it,” shares Restifo. “Once I do an exam, take careful measurements, and have a conversation about breast lifts and breast augmentation as a combination, I have a good sense of what will make a patient happy.”
The nipple location is the determining factor on whether you need a lift and what type of lift to expect. If the nipple is higher than the fold, then an implant alone may subtly and sufficiently lift the breast. If your nipple is beneath or at the fold – OR if breast tissue itself is below the fold – a surgical lift is the only solution.
A lift is usually accompanied with a small implant to shape the upper pole. The majority of women who have had several pregnancies need both a lift and augmentation. A breast lift is the only way to reposition the breast back to where it was (or where it should have been all along) to a more perky, rounded shape.
What a Breast Lift Can and Can’t Fix
Breast lift surgery raises and firms sagging breasts. Excess skin is removed and the surrounding tissue is tightened to reshape and support the new breast contour. A breast lift doesn’t significantly change the size of your breasts or round out the upper part of your breast. If you want fuller looking breasts, ask about combining breast lift and breast augmentation surgery. These two distinct surgeries can be done alone or in combination. “In assessing whether a patient needs an augmentation and/or a lift I look at the position of the nipple, amount of skin and the quality of the breast tissue itself,” explains Restifo. “Then size of the implant and patient expectations are also taken into account.”
Advantages of Combination Surgeries
There are differing opinions even among board certified plastic surgeons about the advantages and disadvantages of combining breast lifts and augmentations. Dr. Restifo believes the benefits outweigh the risks. “When you do the operations at the same time, there is one anesthetic, one recovery and financial advantages. In the majority of cases, I can identify those patients who will do fine having an augmentation/lift simultaneously. In addition, the recovery from having both is really no greater than the recovery from either one.”
Surgeons take a look at all of the variables when decided whether to do a combination procedure or not. For some patients, two separate procedures is optimal. For others, one procedure. For the majority, it’s up to the surgeon and which strategy they feel will work best for the patient.
A Transformative Experience
“Transformative,” is how Restifo describes a breast lift procedure with implants. “Patients who have it are often flabbergasted and quite happy with how much change can be achieved with the combination,” he explains.
It is, nonetheless, a challegning procedure. “In terms of the surgery, there are demands presented by combining two operations. One has to deal with multiple issues and some are fighting each other, so it is an operation that requires a great deal of experience to get the best outcome.”
Whether two stages or one, there is indeed something very transformative about the breast lift procedure. Perhaps the “transformation” is really a return of youth, back to years ago before gravity and the rest took their toll on a woman’s breasts. Now, and perhaps with one surgery alone, much if not all can be reversed, restoring what’s been lost to time.