Breast lift is a surgical procedure that lifts, firms and reshapes the breasts. The aim of the breast lift is to improve the appearance of your breasts by removing excess skin and fat while reshaping the underlying tissue. The surgery effectively lifts your breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue, which helps to restore their shape and position after pregnancy or weight loss.
The procedure can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, depending on your preferences. The incision can either be made around the areola (periareolar) or vertically in the crease under your breast (inframammary). After surgery, you will be fitted with a bandage that supports your breasts while they heal. You will be able to start exercising again within a few weeks after surgery. Full recovery usually takes about 12 weeks.
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Best plastic surgeon for breast lift near me
A breast lift (mastopexy) is a surgical procedure that repositions the nipple, areola (ring of darker skin around the nipple), and surrounding tissue so that the breast sits in a higher position. Although a breast lift doesn’t change the size of the breasts significantly, it can be done in combination with a breast augmentation (enlargement) or breast reduction surgery.
At University of Utah Health, our board-certified plastic surgeons provide a wide range of cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries, including breast lift. Women travel from throughout the Mountain West to benefit from our surgeons’ experience and expertise.
Decision to Get a Breast Lift
The decision to have a breast lift is a personal one, so it’s important to think about your reasons for considering it. Women who have a breast lift may share some or all of the following concerns.
- Their breasts sag, either because the breasts have lost their shape and volume or because the breasts have become flatter or longer.
- Their nipples are positioned below the breast creases.
- Their nipples and areolae (rings of darker skin around each nipple) point downward.
- One of their breasts falls lower than the other.
A breast lift can be done on breasts of any size. The plastic surgeon will talk to you about this possibility at your first appointment so that you know what to expect.
BREAST APPEARANCE FACTORS
Women’s breasts change over time, losing their shape and firmness. These breast changes may occur because of:
- the aging process,
- weight loss or gain,
- smoking, which can affect the “elasticity” of your breasts, and
- pregnancy—the ligaments that support your breasts may stretch during pregnancy, which can make your breasts sag.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR A BREAST LIFT?
From a medical standpoint, anyone can have a breast lift. But it’s typically best to wait if:
- your body is still growing and developing.
- you are actively trying to lose weight.
- you are planning to get pregnant and have more children.
- you are still breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed in the near future.
During your initial appointment with a plastic surgeon at U of U Health, the surgeon will do a thorough evaluation to see whether a breast lift is an option for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT
During this appointment, the plastic surgeon will:
- ask what you’re hoping for in terms of your breasts’ appearance afterward.
- review your medical history.
- talk to you about any family history of breast cancer.
- do a physical exam of your breasts.
- explain what is involved with a breast lift surgery, including the risks and benefits.
- answer your questions.
You may want to schedule your surgery soon after this appointment or take some time to think about it. If a few months pass between your initial appointment and your scheduled surgery, the plastic surgeon may want you to come in for another appointment before your surgery takes place.
If you are generally healthy, you do not need to have any tests before breast lift surgery. However, if you are 40 years old or older, your plastic surgeon will want to see images from a recent mammogram. These images help our medical team evaluate your breast tissue for surgery. They also will provide a baseline so that your care team can interpret mammograms you have in the future.
The plastic surgeon will ask you to schedule a mammogram before your breast lift if:
- you are 40 years old or older.
- have never had a mammogram.
- it’s been a few years since your last mammogram.
TYPES OF BREAST LIFTS
Breast lift surgery techniques vary depending on your breasts’ size and other factors. These techniques include:
- Circumareolar lift — This surgery is for smaller lifts and involves making an incision (cut) around the areola (darker skin around the nipple).
- Vertical mastopexy —This surgery involves making an incision around the areola and a downward incision from the areola to the base of the breast. Vertical mastopexy is typically done for medium-sized lifts.
- Wise pattern or anchor scar mastopexy — This surgery is used for patients who require a large lift. It involves making an incision around the areola, a downward incision from the areola to the base of the breast, and an incision at the base of the breast (in the “crease”).
How Long for Breast Lift Incisions to Heal?
During your initial appointment with the plastic surgeon, you will learn about the different scar patterns that each of these surgeries creates. The incisions will take about four to six weeks to heal and the scars will begin to fade at around the three-month mark. It takes about a year for the scars to fade fully (although they will not completely disappear). Bras and bathing suits typically cover these scars.
BREAST AUGMENTATION & BREAST LIFT SURGERY
Many women want to have a breast lift (to reduce sagging) and a breast augmentation (to enlarge the breasts). Your plastic surgeon may be able to do both surgeries at once or may recommend doing them separately. Sometimes an augmentation will give you a lift that is similar to what a breast lift surgery can achieve.
BREAST LIFT SURGERY
How to Prepare For Breast Lift Surgery
After you schedule your breast lift surgery, the plastic surgeon will provide you with the following guidelines to prepare for surgery.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen a week before surgery (these can increase bleeding).
- Do not smoke or use nicotine-based products in the . Smoking decreases blood flow and can slow the healing process.
Day of Surgery
Breast lifts are usually done as a same-day surgery and involve general anesthesia (puts you to sleep).
Afterward, you’ll recover for an hour or two until you’re OK to return home. You will need someone to drive you.
Before you leave, our care team will provide detailed instructions so that you can take care of your incisions (cuts) and control any post-operative pain. Your breasts will be covered with gauze, and you will be wearing a surgical support bra to support your breasts. You might have small tubes at the incision sites, which will help drain any extra blood or fluid.
BREAST LIFT RISKS
As with any major surgery, breast lift surgery poses a risk of bleeding, infection, wound healing problems, and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon will talk to you about the various risks specific to breast lift surgery. These risks may also include:
- Changes in sensation in your nipple or breast — Sensation usually returns a few weeks after surgery, but you might experience some numbness long-term.
- Breast tissue damage — Breast lift surgery can disrupt the flow of blood to the breast area. This could lead to a partial or total loss of the areola and nipple, but it’s rare.
- Asymmetry — One of your breasts may not look the same as the other.
BREAST LIFT RECOVERY
You will notice an improvement in your breast and nipple position immediately after surgery. The shape and appearance will continue to change and settle for the next few months.
For about two weeks after surgery, your breasts will be swollen and bruised. Our care team will explain how to take care of yourself and your incisions (cuts) during this time. For two to three weeks after surgery, you will need to:
- continue wearing the surgical support bra around the clock except when showering,
- take pain medication as directed by the care team,
- avoid straining, lifting, and bending,
- sleep on your side or your back to minimize pressure on your breasts,
- avoid sexual activity, and
- limit your arm movements (this includes not driving).
Your plastic surgeon will talk to you about when it is safe to resume normal activities such as bathing, exercising, and generally being more active. By about the four-week mark, you should be back to your normal routine.
You will have an appointment with your plastic surgeon about two to four weeks after surgery. The doctor will:
- check to make sure everything is healing nicely and that there is no evidence of infection,
- change your dressings and remove stitches (if you had them) or surgical tape.
- answer any questions you have.
- discuss when it is all right to resume your usual activities.
Breast augmentation cost
Breast augmentation — sometimes called a “boob job” or “augmentation mammaplasty” — remains one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery. More than 250,000 Americans had it done in 2020. Augmentation changes the size and appearance of one or both breasts by transferring body fat to them or adding artificial implants. As with other types of cosmetic surgery, health insurance plans won’t cover the cost of this procedure.
Breast augmentation isn’t the same as breast reconstruction. If a breast cancer patient has had a mastectomy and wants reconstructive surgery afterward, federal law requires most private insurance plans to cover that.
But for cosmetic breast-augmentation surgery, you’ll almost certainly be paying out of pocket. Read on for an overview of how much it’s likely to cost and which factors can affect the price.
How much does breast augmentation surgery cost?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported in 2019 that the total cost of breast augmentation was between $6,000 and $12,000. One reason for the broad price range is the plastic surgeon’s fee. The average fee for a typical breast augmentation in 2020 was $4,866, according to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank.
The surgeon’s fee can vary based on:
- Their level of experience
- The market prices in your local area
- The specifics of the procedure
Other surgical considerations, discussed below, will affect the cost as well.
What can influence the average cost of breast augmentation?
Beyond the plastic surgeon’s fee, the overall cost of breast augmentation will include such expenses as:
- Hospital or surgical-facility operating room fee
- Cost of anesthesia
- Medical tests
- Post-surgery garments, such as a compression bra to control post-op swelling
- Prescription drugs, such as pain medication
The facility where the surgery takes place makes a big difference in your total cost. For insured people, surgery can cost more than twice as much if performed at a hospital rather than an ambulatory care center. This may not be the case for people paying out of pocket, though.
You can find out facility-fee details ahead of your breast augmentation surgery. The No Surprises Act allows you to request binding good-faith cost estimates for the procedure from your area’s hospitals or ambulatory care centers. Once you have facility-fee information from those estimates, you can ask your doctor to do the surgery at a facility you can afford.
The FAIR Health website helps you zero in on the costs for people who are paying out of pocket. In Columbus, Ohio, for example:
- The average uninsured cost of inserting a single breast implant is $2,752.
- You’d also have to pay $2,151 for anesthesia.
The biggest expense can often be the facility fee, which varies widely.
- In Columbus, this fee is estimated to be $20,162 for an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) or $9,502 for an outpatient hospital.
- In Chicago, by contrast, the price difference is smaller. The ASC fee would cost $17,285, while the hospital outpatient fee would be $15,556.
What else can affect the price of breast augmentation?
The technique and materials that your plastic surgeon uses will help determine your overall costs. Discussing these aspects with your doctor is also the best way to get the result you want. You and your doctor should talk about your desired breast shape, size, surface texture, incision site, and type and placement of the implant or fat transfer.
Additional procedures may add to the cost. One example is moving the nipples. A surgeon’s average fee for nipple cosmetic surgery in 2020 was $1,739.
It’s also important to tell your surgeon about any history of breast surgery, such as whether and how your breasts have been augmented, reduced, or otherwise altered in the past. Be sure to tell the doctor how your body reacted at the time. These details will influence their surgical decisions.
Breast augmentation size
When it comes to cost, implant size doesn’t matter. Larger implants cost the same as smaller ones. This is true whether you’re getting silicone or saline implants.
Here, again, you’ll want to have a detailed conversation with your surgeon. Discuss your desired breast size and how much it would differ from the existing breast. This will help the doctor decide on the best surgical approach.
Breast augmentation techniques
To make the breasts larger, the surgeon inserts either artificial breast implants or fat transferred from another part of the body.
Breast implants are the more common choice. Manufacturers offer many options to choose from. Beyond the basic materials — saline-filled or silicone-filled — implants may also have different shapes, structures, and textures.
Silicone vs. saline breast implants
If you’ve decided on artificial breast implants, the choice of silicone versus saline can greatly affect the cost. Generally, silicone implants are more expensive. In one 2019 study, researchers found that saline implants cost about $1,300 less than silicone implants and lasted about 5 years longer.
This type of breast augmentation — also called fat grafting, lipofilling, or living-fat transfer — is becoming more popular, in part because there’s no insertion of silicon or saline and no need for anesthesia.
Instead, the doctor moves fat tissue from one spot on your body to another. Using liposuction, they take your own fat from one part of the body, such as the belly, sides of the abdomen, back, or thighs. The surgical team purifies the fat through washing, filtering, or other methods. The surgeon then injects it into the breast to get the desired shape.
Fat transfer yields a relatively subtle increase in breast size. People get more volume at the top of their breasts or increased definition of their cleavage.
Surgeons’ average fee for breast fat grafting was $3,318 in 2020, according to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank.
This secondary procedure changes the appearance of the nipple and areolas. It may involve repositioning or raising the nipple, improving symmetry, increasing or decreasing the nipple’s size, or changing how far it projects.
You should expect certain follow-up care expenses. As mentioned above, these could include:
- Post-operative garments, such as a compression bra
- Follow-up appointments
- Medical tests
- Prescriptions for pain medication
If you need to have additional surgery because of implant problems or because you want to further revise your breasts’ appearance, a new set of costs will apply. However, if the implant warranty from the original surgery is still in effect, it may cover some of those costs.
Can I finance breast augmentation surgery?
Many plastic surgeons offer financing options or payment plans. You can also pay for your surgery with a healthcare credit card such as CareCredit. Be sure to keep a close eye on the payment terms and interest rate, though. This is especially important if you decide to take advantage of a no-interest offer. If you still have a balance at the end of the set introductory period (often 6 to 24 months), you’ll have to pay interest at an annual percentage rate (APR) as high as 26.99%.
You can also look for online lenders that offer healthcare loans, such as Prosper Healthcare Lending. It offers 60-month loans with rates between 7.95% to 36.00% APR. Depending on your credit history, you may well get a better rate from your regular credit card or a personal loan.
Does my health insurance cover breast augmentation?
Probably not. Most health insurance plans don’t cover cosmetic surgery for breast enlargement or any other surgery intended solely to change the appearance of your breasts. They also don’t cover any complications that may result from this type of surgery.
Also, bear in mind that some insurance plans won’t cover treatment for breast diseases that could occur after you’ve had breast implants.
In short, undergoing breast augmentation surgery can expose you to financial and health risks. Before scheduling the surgery, it’s wise to review your health plan’s specific coverage rules for breast augmentation and other related conditions.
The bottom line
Health insurance plans will not cover surgery to enlarge your breasts or otherwise enhance their appearance for cosmetic reasons. You’ll pay all costs out of pocket, so be sure to understand what they are: the surgeon’s fee, the price of any implants, and the fees for anesthesia and the medical facility. Insurers will cover post-mastectomy breast reconstruction, though, as required by law.
Silicone vs saline breast implants
Why breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation involves placing an implantable medical device (a breast implant) behind the breast (known as “subglandular” placement) and/or chest muscle (known as “submuscular” or “subpectoral” placement. Breast augmentation can increase the volume of the breast in naturally small breasted women, can replace volume that was lost after breastfeeding or major weight loss, change the breast shape (such as in tubular breasts), and create better symmetry to the breasts if they are naturally different sizes or shapes.
Silicone vs saline implants
All breast implants have a shell made out of an inert polymer called silicone. The shell surface can be either smooth or textured. Smooth walled implants roll around subtly in their breast pocket, mimicking the movement of a natural breast, while textured implants encourage soft tissue ingrowth into their small surface interstices, keeping the implant more stiffly in place.
Breast implants have a variety of base widths, projection amounts and fill volumes. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to breast augmentation. The best implant for each breast will be carefully selected and matched to the space to achieve the specific goals for that particular patient.
Difference between silicone and saline implants
Silicone gel is an inert polymer with no known human allergies, sensitivities or reactions. Like a gummy bear candy, the molecules are stuck to one another in a cohesive matrix. Silicone is more viscous than saline. In contrast to saline, it flows differently within its shell and can often create a more natural look and feel to the breast, like breast tissue. Women must be 22 years of age or older to be offered silicone gel implants for breast augmentation, as per the FDA’s regulations.
Saline (sterile salt water)
Saline-filled implants are available to all women for breast augmentation over the age of 18. A silicone shell is inserted into the body and then filled to its desired volume by a board-certified plastic surgeon with saline fluid. Saline has the consistency of water. Underneath very thin skin, folds of a saline implant might be seen or felt more often – this is known as implant “rippling” or “wrinkling.”
Some saline implants have the advantage of being postoperatively adjustable via a remote injection port – this is commonly used in some types of breast reconstruction procedures to fine-tune the final implant volume over months before the implant port is removed.
How have breast implants improved or changed over the years?
Silicone gel implants were first created in the late 1960s and have undergone several different generations with ongoing technological improvements. Saline filled implants were created as an alternative to silicone fill and became popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the last 20 years, significant advances have been made to silicone gel implants. In fact, we are now implanting the 7th and 8th generation of silicone breast implants. The newest silicone implants have a slightly higher fill (96% fill versus the previous generation’s 85% fill) and more cross- linking of the silicone molecules, increasing the stiffness or “cohesiveness” of breast implants.
What variants of saline and silicone implants are available?
“Baffled” saline implants
“Baffling” refers to an internal channel structure within the implant, like layers on a shelf. Theoretically, these channels allow the saline inside to flow in different directions within the outer implant to simulate the feel of a silicone implant, with purported decreased incidence of rippling and sloshy liquid movement.
Variable cohesiveness of silicone implants
Different degrees of stiffness or “cohesiveness” (cross-linking of the silicone molecules) are now available in silicone gel breast implants. The most “liquid” ones are softest and flow most easily, and are most commonly used for routine breast augmentation. The most highly cohesive silicone implants are stiffest and tend to hold their shape most firmly, with potential advantages for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. An intermediate stiffness implant is also available, which can be beneficial for breast augmentation patients who wishes to have silicone but have experienced rippling with the less cohesive devices.
How do we know breast implants are safe?
Did You Know: Silicone gel breast implants are the most widely studied medical device in the history of medical devices? Historically, silicone gel implants received negative media attention and were sensationalized in the 1980s and 1990s, with apparent claims of adverse associated health problems, prompting removal and replacement of older silicone implants with saline filled devices. Since that time, extensive FDA-directed prospective clinical research with long-term follow-up has confirmed no association between silicone gel implants and any chronic autoimmune disease. Read information from the ASPS about the safety of breast implants and the potential association of textured implants with an extremely rare and treatable condition called BIA-ALCL.
For more information about breast augmentation, breast implant science and safety, visit a board-certified plastic surgeon who is an ASPS member. Be sure to #DoYourHomework before having any cosmetic plastic surgery procedure!