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Breast lift (mastopexy)

Mr Morritt performs the breast lift (mastopexy) plastic surgery procedure at both the Claremont and the Thornbury Private Hospitals in Sheffield. He also performs the procedure on the NHS at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, to improve breast symmetry in patients who have had breast reconstruction or who have congenital breast problems such as breast asymmetry (uneven breast size).

 

What is a breast uplift (mastopexy)?

A breast uplift (mastopexy) is a surgical procedure to lift drooping breasts and nipples. Breast drooping is part of natural ageing but may occur more quickly in women following pregnancy or weight loss. Many of these patients are happy with the size of their breasts when they are wearing a bra but do not like the droopiness of their breasts when they are not wearing a bra.

 

The breast uplift procedure

Excess skin is removed to tighten the breast and make it firmer. This in turn lifts the breast making it more pert and improves the shape of the breast by increasing the fullness in the cleavage area. The nipples are lifted by cutting around the areola which leaves scarring around the areola (circumareolar scar). Most patients will also need to have a vertical scar between the areola and crease under the breast as this is the main area from where excess skin is usually removed (lollipop scar). Some patients with significant droopiness may also need to have a scar in the crease under the breast (anchor scar).

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The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and typically involves an overnight stay in hospital. It is sometimes necessary to insert drains following the surgery but these are usually removed the day after surgery before patients go home.

 

Different types of mastopexy (breast uplift)

  • Circumareolar lift
  • Vertical scar lift
  • Wise pattern lift
  • Combined breast uplift with breast implant insertion
    • Lift the nipples, improves the breast shape and increases the size of the breasts
  • Combined breast uplift with lipofilling (fat injections)
    • Lift the nipples, improves the breast shape and increases the size of the breasts without the need for breast implants. Also has the benefit of improved contour of the area where the fat is taken from e.g. thighs/abdomen.

 

Risks of breast uplift surgery

Mastopexy surgery is performed frequently and the vast majority of patients who have the surgery heal without any significant problems. Mr Morritt has incorporated a number of safety modifications into his practice to reduce the risks for patients having surgery. As with any other surgical procedure there are potential risks of breast uplift surgery that patients should understand before deciding to have surgery.

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  • Significant bleeding
    • results in a collection of blood in the breast that will make the breast appear swollen and may cause pain.
    • This blood has to be removed in the operating theatre
    • Rare – affects less than 2% of patients
  • Scar
    • All surgical scars go through a normal healing process where they can be quite red for approximately 6 weeks. Between 6 weeks and three months following surgery the scars usually change to a purple/dark red colour. It can take a further 9-12 months before scars reach their final appearance which in most patients is a thin, pale, flat, painless scar. Patients with a personal or family history of bad scars following surgery or injury will be at increased risk of poor scarring.
    • mastopexy scars tend to heal well but will vary between patients and some patients may get poor scars (red, raised, painful)
  • Infection
    • Infections do however sometimes occur despite taking multiple precautions to reduce the chances of wound infection during surgery.
    • Infections can usually be treated with a course of antibiotics
  • Asymmetry of breasts or nipples
    • almost all women have different sized/shaped breasts
    • Breast uplift can make differences between breasts and nipples more noticeable
    • There will be marginal differences in breast size, shape and nipple position following the surgery
  • Wound breakdown
    • this is very rare but if it happens usually happens at the junction of the vertical scar on the breast and the scar in the breast crease
  • Permanence of result
    • As the breast uplift procedure does not replace the patient’s skin and breast tissue for new skin and breast tissue, it is to be expected that the breasts will droop with time (as happened before the procedure)
    • Further drooping will be accelerated with further pregnancy/breast feeding, and/or weight change
  • Nipple sensitivity alterations
    • reduced nipple sensitivity occurs frequently following surgery and may affect one or both sides
    • generally improves with time but may be permanent in up to 15% of patients and is more common in those with large/droopy breast
  • Nipple loss
    • this is rare but is more common in those who smoke, the obese, those with very droopy breasts and the elderly
  • Fat necrosis
    • It is possible to get lumps in the breast following uplift surgery as a result of alterations in the blood supply to the fat and breast tissue within the breast caused by surgery
    • The majority of lumps like this do settle with time but this can sometimes take a few years
  • Breast feeding
    • It is sometimes possible breast feed after mastopexy however this can be unpredictable. Pregnancy after mastopexy can cause the breasts to become droopy and for this reason Mr Morritt advises patients to wait until they have completed their families before having a breast uplift (mastopexy).
  • General risks of surgery
    • Chest infection, DVT, PE

 

Recovering after breast uplift surgery

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Bra

You will need to wear a sports bra 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support the breasts while they heal following the surgery. It is useful to have two bras that you can wear in rotation. It is important that the bra provides support without being overly tight. You should be able to start wearing underwired bras 8 weeks following the surgery.

 

Dressings

The wounds will be covered with dressings. You will be seen approximately 3 days after the surgery and also at 7-10 days following the surgery to check that you are making good progress and that the wounds are healing well. Mr Morritt uses dissolving stitches so there is no need for any stitches to be removed. You can shower once the dressings have been removed.

 

Timeframe for recovery from mastopexy

0-7 days following surgery

– Mr Morritt recommends taking it very easy in the first week during surgery as this is the most frequent time to encounter problems such as bleeding following surgery if patients overdo things. Patients with young children should therefore organize for help and support with childcare and housework during this period. Your wounds will be checked approximately 3 days following the surgery and again at 7-10 days following the surgery.

 

7-14 days following surgery

patient’s should only have low levels of pain at this stage and will be able to gradually increase their activities e.g. walking as their energy levels allow.

 

3-6 weeks following surgery

Patient’s should be able to return to work approximately 2 weeks following surgery. Mr Morritt advises that patient’s should not undertake any heavy lifting before 6 weeks following surgery. Those in active jobs may therefore need to take more time off work or to modify their activities at work until they have fully healed.

 

6 weeks onwards

Patients can undertake all exercises without restriction.

 

Driving

Patients should avoid driving until their wounds are fully healed and they are free of pain. For most patients this will mean avoiding driving for 2 weeks following the surgery.