How Long do Breast Lifts Last?

As with any surgical procedure, the changes associated with breast lift surgery are considered permanent. The surgical process will turn back the hands of time on the clock, but the clock will not stop.

How does a breast lift work?

Breast lift surgery creates a more lifted, youthful appearance by reshaping breast tissue, tightening or removing skin, and in some cases adding volume. Breast changes can happen as a result of weight loss, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or age-related decreases in skin elasticity and collagen. A breast lift (mastopexy) procedure is employed to tighten and restore breast shape by creating new forms with breast skin and breast tissue.

Breast lift surgeries are performed using a series of very technical incisions. Your personal goals and anatomy will determine which type and placement of incisions are used. Options include:

Circumareolar Incisions, used for patients with mild ptosis (drooping), are made around the areola only and result in minimal scarring.

Lollipop Incisions, used for patients with moderate ptosis, run around the areola and then vertically from the areola to the breast fold, resulting in little scarring.

Anchor Incisions, used to correct significant ptosis, extend a lollipop incision horizontally across the breast crease. Scars can be hidden by natural breast folds.  The length of the horizontal incision within the breast fold is dictated by the about of excess skin you may have.

Resizing and repositioning the areola

Enlarged, asymmetrical areolas with downward-pointing nipples are often a concern of patients considering a breast lift. Different incision types are used to correct unique concerns that allow the nipple-areolar complex to be resized and repositioned accordingly.  Areolas stretch with aging and breastfeeding.  The ideal youthful areolar size is 38mm to 42mm in diameter.

Breast Lifts, Augmentations, & Reductions

Breast lift surgery can be a good option for patients who want to preserve the volume and fullness of their breasts while making changes to the shape and elevation of the breast tissue or increasing breast firmness. Breast lift surgery can also be combined with breast augmentation or reduction procedures. If larger breasts are desired, implants can be added to restore or increase your cup size. For patients with very large breasts, breast reduction surgery can further minimize the presence of loose skin and breast tissue.

Factors that impact breast lift lifespan:

Several factors impact the lifespan of breast lift surgery. The most important thing to understand is that the surgical changes of a breast lift operation are permanent.  Your breasts will never return to their original shape and size.  However, surgery does not stop the effects of aging or gravity.  Hence, your breasts will continue to age and lose elasticity with time.  One of the most important is the use of supportive undergarments. Proper fitting bras help overcome the effects of gravity, which enhance the aging process of breast tissue. Consulting with your surgeon prior to surgery will allow you to prepare and purchase appropriate undergarments for the post-operative period and beyond.

The technique of the surgeon performing the operation plays a critical role in determining how the procedure will hold up over time. Some surgeons opt for a skin-only breast lift, which ignores important underlying structures that will support the results long-term.  It is important to choose a surgeon that performs breast tissue reshaping and support in addition to tightening the skin.  Options best suited for your particular anatomy and desires will be discussed with you as part of the consultation process with a board-certified plastic surgeon. General lifestyle including activity, nutrition, hydration, sun exposure, and substance use, amongst others, highly impact surgical outcomes. These variables contribute to the health and integrity of our tissues and ultimately determine how they age as we do. The healthier a patient’s lifestyle, the longer their surgical results with last. The age at which a patient decides to have breast lift surgery is another consideration. A younger patient who has surgery and subsequently gets pregnant, breastfeeds, and ages will likely need future operations compared to a relatively older woman who has already been through these same experiences. Pregnancy alone may highly impact the longevity of a breast lift procedure. Expected changes occur to the breast tissue during pregnancy and subsequent breastfeeding that can alter the aesthetic outcome of any previously performed cosmetic breast surgeries. Lastly, non-modifiable genetics affect almost every aspect of our health, including cosmetic surgery. Understanding how a patient heals from previous experiences and any medical conditions or medications that may affect this is key to your surgeon being able to provide you with positive surgical results that last.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Maman:

The first step to schedule a consultation would be doing thorough research. There are many ways to find a plastic surgeon. Arguably the best way would be to receive a referral from another physician, such as primary care, dermatologist, or OB-GYN. These providers often see multiple patients with good results and can attest to those by referring their patients somewhere. Friends are a secondarily good referral source, especially if they are patients themselves. When it comes to advertising, the most essential consideration is the plastic surgeon’s education, board certification ONLY by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and before/after gallery. If those components match your desired outcome, then they would be a good source of information to seek in consultation. You will often come across taglines such as “no downtime surgery” or “no anesthesia required”. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts to SAFE plastic surgery.

The next step would be to contact the office of a board-certified plastic surgeon to find a time to meet them. First impressions last a lifetime, so pay attention when speaking to the receptionist upon calling. Should you decide to have surgery, this is the team you will be dealing with multiple times per month for at least a year. The administrative team directly reflects the surgeon’s ways of working. Another thing to clarify would be a potential timeline for surgery. This is sometimes best done before reaching out to qualified providers because they are booked one to six months out, on average. Knowing well enough in advance will give you adequate time to interview surgeons, get any preoperative lab work done, and feel confident moving forward with your scheduled procedure.