Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

Description
Over the years, factors such as pregnancy, nursing, and the force of gravity take their toll on a woman's breasts. As the skin loses its elasticity, the breasts often lose their shape and firmness and begin to sag. Breast lift, or Mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts--at least, for a time. (No surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity.)

Mastopexy can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. If your breasts are small or have lost volume--for example, after pregnancy--breast implants inserted in conjunction with Mastopexy can increase both their firmness and their size.

The best candidates for Mastopexy are healthy, emotionally stable women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts.

Many women seek Mastopexy because pregnancy and nursing have left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts. However, if you're planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your breast lift.

While there are no special risks that affect future pregnancies (for example, Mastopexy usually doesn't interfere with breast feeding), pregnancy is likely to stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.

Mastopexy does leave noticeable, permanent scars, although they'll be covered by your bra or bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.

Anesthesia
Breast lifts are usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you'll sleep through the operation.

Surgery
Mastopexy usually takes one and a half to three and a half-hours.

The procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast. 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 and together to reshape the breast. Stitches are located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downwards from the nipple area, and along the lower crease of the breast.

After Your Surgery
Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain shouldn't be severe. Any discomfort you do feel can be relieved with medication. The stitches will be removed after a week.

You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused by the swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling subsides over the next six weeks or so. In some patients, however, it may last a year or more, and occasionally it may be permanent.

Getting Back to Normal
Healing is a gradual process. Although you may be up and about in a day or two, don't plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending on how you feel. And avoid lifting anything over your head for three to four weeks.

Avoid sex for 2 weeks, and avoid strenuous sports for about a month. After that, you can resume these activities slowly. If you become pregnant, the operation should not affect your ability to breast-feed, since your milk ducts and nipples will be left intact.

Complications
Surgery carries some uncertainty and risk. A breast lift is not a simple operation, but it's normally safe. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. Loss of nipple sensitivity may occur, also rare.

Please stay in Costa Rica at least 10 days after surgery.