Yara Zakharia, Esq,
Each year, more than 100,000 American women driven by the desire to turn back the hands of time undergo a mastopexy or breast lift surgery. Also known as a boob job, this breast enhancement procedure rejuvenates the contour, texture, and shape of female breasts by reducing or eliminating their sagginess and increasing their firmness. This is achieved by raising and restructuring the breasts. Excessive skin tissue is removed and the surrounding skin is strengthened in order to re-mold and uphold the new breast. Factors impacting skin elasticity in women's breasts include breastfeeding, pregnancy, aging, weight loss, heredity, and gravity. Breast lifts are an effective surgical method aimed at creating shapelier and firmer breasts.
A boob job may also be performed in conjunction with a breast augmentation for purposes of enhancing the breasts' volume. Breast augmentation usually consists of either a breast lift procedure or saline breast implants.
Breast Lift Cost
Breast lift costs vary depending on
- The surgical site (i.e. Hospital or office)
- Geographical location where the surgery is performed
- The type of surgery or breast implant chosen
- The surgeon's experience and skill
- The form of anesthesia that is utilized
- The surgeon's fees
On average, the surgeon's fee for a breast surgery procedure runs between $3,000 and $4,000.
During the Consultation
At the initial consultation with a plastic surgeon, prospective breast lift patients are asked to 1) discuss their expectations with regards to surgical outcome, 2) furnish a thorough medical history, including history of breast cancer in their family and results of prior biopsies or mammograms, and 3) submit to a breast examination, in which the surgeon measures the shape and size of the breasts and assesses the texture of their skin, and determines placement of the areolas and nipples. The physician informs his or her clients of what to expect from the surgery, their surgical options, and possible complications and risks associated with the procedure. The cosmetic surgeon also prescribes a specific course of treatment and discusses potential outcomes of the breast enhancement surgery.
Am I a Good Candidate?
To qualify, candidates should:
- Be in sound physical health and have a steady weight
- Have breasts that are drooping and have lost volume and shape
- Be realistic in their expectations
- Not smoke
- Not be planning a pregnancy or not be nursing or pregnant
Breast lifts are a good option for women with
- One breast lower than the other
- Excessively large areolas and stretched skin
- Downward-pointing areolas and nipples
- Falling nipples
- Breasts with a pendulous shape
Procedure Information and Options
Breast lifts are usually performed on an outpatient basis at a hospital, surgical center, or the plastic surgeon's own facility either under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. The procedure generally lasts anywhere from one to three and a half hours, depending on the invasive nature of the surgery and breast size. Surgeons may utilize one of a number of different incision techniques and patterns in a breast lift surgery.
The approach selected depends on:
- The amount of excess skin
- The skin's elasticity and quality
- The location and size of the patient's areolas
- The shape and size of the patient's breasts
- The patient's medical history
- The breast's physical aspects and the degree of drooping
- The desired outcome
Most commonly, incisions are made 1) in the area surrounding the areola, 2) in the nipple region all the way down to the crease of the breast, and 3) around the areola as well as vertically and horizontally in relation to the breast crease. The incisions mark the location from which skin is surgically removed and demarcate the new area for the nipple. Upon completing the incisions, the breast lift surgery proceeds as follows:
- The surgeon first removes the excess skin to tackle the issue of lost elasticity.
- The areola and nipple are repositioned to a more appealing and natural level.
- The surgeon then reshapes the breast by tightening the skin around the areola.
- To support the newly-configured breasts and minimize swelling, the surgeon closes the incisions with surgical tape, skin adhesives, or sutures.
Breast Lift Risks and Recovery
Upon completion of the procedure, an elastic bandage, a gauze dressing, or a surgical bra is placed over the incisions. In time, the incision lines become less visible and eventually disappear. Patients may experience symptoms such as discomfort, loss of sensation in the breast tissue and nipple, and bruising for the first few days following the surgery. However, surgeons usually prescribe pain medication to diminish post-surgical effects. Patients should also be aware of potential risks associated with breast lift surgery such as the following:
- Nipple and skin discoloration
- Nerve damage
- Permanent numbness of breast tissue or nipple
- Asymmetry of the breast
- Blood clots
- Accumulation of fluid
- Permanent loss of breast sensation
- Overly-firm breasts
- Negative reactions to anesthesia
Patients with office-type jobs can usually return to work within a week following the surgery. Daily activities may also be resumed after a week or so. Patients should avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous workouts during the first month after breast enhancement surgery. They can expect to witness the final results in approximately one year. The transformation brought about by the breast lift procedure is long-lasting, provided that patients maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep a steady weight.
[page updated December 2008]