by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A breast lift is a cosmetic surgery of the breast. The procedure involves tightening of the breast tissue and removal of excess skin and surrounding tissue to reshape and support the breast.
Reasons for Procedure
A breast lift is done to raise and firms the breasts. It is often done to counteract changes caused by:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
This is an elective procedure. If you have any illnesses or you are in poor health, then you should not have this procedure.
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before your procedure, your doctor will:
Leading up to your procedure:
You may need to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
This procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting with no need for an overnight stay.
An incision will be made. Your surgeon will choose the incision pattern. The underlying breast tissue will be lifted and reshaped. The nipple and areola will be repositioned. The areolas may be reduced in size. Excess breast tissue will be removed. The remaining skin will be tightened and the incision will be closed with stitches, skin adhesives, and/or surgical tape. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain fluids.
How Long Will It Take?
About 3 hours
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may have some bruising and tenderness around the breasts for several weeks after surgery. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage the pain.
To help with your recovery at home:
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Breast lift. Smart Beauty Guide—The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery website. Available at: https://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/breast/breast-lift. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Breast lift surgery. University of Michigan website. Available at:
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Accessed December 18, 2017.
Breast lift surgery—mastopexy. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/breast-lift. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Mastopexy. The American Society of Bariatric Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.asbps.org/content/procedures/mastopexy. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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