Breast Lift Surgery
The natural shape of the breast gradually changes with time. Some women become dissatisfied with the shape of their breasts due to droop and wish to restore or even improve upon their youthful shape.
To understand breast lift surgery, the development and anatomy of the breast must be understood. Surgery has very definite limits and only turns back the clock rather than stopping it.
Anatomy of Breast Lift Surgery
The breast is a skin gland, related closely to sweat glands, but specialized to the production of milk. It develops at puberty, from the small gland button which exists under the nipple at birth. As the gland grows, the surrounding fat grows, and the overlying skin expands. Initially, this gives a cone shaped breast with the nipple at the peak, but very quickly, the skin continues to expand under the weight of the gland and a relatively tear-drop shape develops.
With pregnancy and nursing, further changes occur. The gland enlarges rapidly, putting (sometimes painful) stretch on the skin and underlying tissues; often this is great enough and rapid enough to cause damage to the elastic fibres of the skin (causing stretch marks). Later, the gland shrinks to its original size or may be significantly smaller, leaving an expanded skin covering.
We think of the breast as a gland which is supported by the brassiere-like overlying skin. As the skin is expanded, or the gland shrinks, or both occur, the gland drops to the bottom of the bra (skin envelope).
The breast is only loosely attached to the underlying chest (pectoral ) muscle, and exercises to tighten the breast have little or no benefit. This is disappointing to patients, and often they come in having tried everything prior to a surgical consultation.
Droop vs. Loss of Volume
Frequently, women feel they have drooping breasts when what actually has occurred is the breast gland has shrunk and the breast looks collapsed. The actual position of the breasts on the chest hasn't changed much. When this occurs, only restoring volume, usually by the use of implants, is all that is needed.
Generally, the degree of drooping is described by how far the breast and the nipple/ areola have dropped below the level of the fold under the breast. The distance from the top of the breast bone to the nipples is also relevant, as is the distance from nipple to nipple. The size of the areolae ( the pigmented area around the nipples) is measured. All of these measurements together are used to help decide whether an appearance of balance and proportion can be achieved without the need for a lift. or whether, visually, the body will look better with a lift.
Some patients feel they have developed drooping but the nipple and areola are still above the level of the fold. In this type of case, the cause is generally loss of breast volume alone and placement of an implant is the usual recommended treatment. Other patients may require a breast reduction in addition to their breast lift.
Post Partum Atrophy (not true droop) is treated by Breast Augmentation (Implants) only.
True Droop prior to breast lift surgery
In most cases when the patient complains of drooping, the nipple and areola have descended below the level of the fold, and the degree of droop is described by the plastic surgeon in terms of the distance from the level of the fold to the level of the nipple. Mild droop is within one centimetre of the fold, moderate from one to two centimeters and more severe drooping is when the nipple/ areola is three centimeters or more below the level of the fold. For these patients, it is necessary to re-shape the breast by lifting the position of the nipple and areola, and, if possible, tightening the lower breast skin and breast gland.
47 years old, 5' 7" and 183 lbs. NO IMPLANTS were used.
42 years old Droop and loss of volume, treated by breast lift surgery plus augmentation
In addition to true droop, there may also be loss of volume, so a breast augmentation and a lift may be combined to give better position with increased fullness.
Most surgeons agree it is near impossible to give fullness to the upper breast with a lift alone. Implants are needed in addition to the lift.
Women who are looking for high, tight, teenage-looking breasts, are certain to be disappointed regardless what is done surgically.
Breast Lift Facts
This depends on how much smaller your breasts are than prior to your first pregnancy, and how much distress the shape of your breasts causes you. If you have lost a lot of breast volume an augmentation with lift will give you significant improvement, and might only require a smaller secondary tightening if you become pregnant and lose some of your shape again. If you have developed a lot of droop or if you had issues of shape prior to pregnancy, a lift may be justified at any time.
Deciding on breast lift surgery
Breast lift surgery may be done with minimal risk to the integrity of the breast gland, and with very satisfying results. The major drawback is the incisions needed, but most of the time, breast lift scars fade very well in time. Recent improvements in technique have also reduced the necessary scars, while producing better appearing breasts. For more information, please contact us at 604-874-2078 and schedule your initial consultation.