Lifting of the sagging breast is one of the most challenging of all body contouring procedures. While measurements and angles are marked out for a breast lift, there is real artistry in choosing the design of the operation and executing it so that optimal symmetry exists between the breasts. Since every woman’s breasts are so different, often even in the same patient, this adds to the difficulties in achieving an optimally uplifted and fully shaped result.
For many women who desire fuller and more perky breasts, a lift is a necessity. While no patient likes scars, all lifts cause differing amounts of them that serve as the trade-off for better shaped breasts. But along with the certainty of scars comes the uncertainty of other important issues that should factor into each woman’s decision to have a breast lift. Many of these considerations are often poorly understood or are simply myths. Here are several of the most common breast lift myths.
A breast lift will make the breasts permanently lifted and perky. While a breast lift makes an immediate and often dramatic change in the position and shape of the breasts, the result will age just like any other part of the body. While a lift initially moves up a lot of the breast volume to behind the nipple and above it into the upper half of the breast, gravity and tissue relaxation will cause some of this tissue to move south over time. While few lift results ever return to where they once were, they are still subject to drooping in the future…it will just be from a different starting point than from where they originally were. How much recurrent dropping may occur is affected by several factors. The simultaneous insertion of a breast implant helps prevent it. Pregnancy and weight loss will really exacerbate recurrent sagging.
The nipple is removed and put back on in a breast lift. There is no breast lifting procedure where the nipple is taken off and reapplied like a skin graft, thus permanently losing feeling and erectile capability. There are some breast reduction operations, now uncommonly done, where nipple grafting is used but never in a cosmetic breast lift. The nipple position is moved upward in a breast lift by keeping it attached to the underlying mound of breast tissue. It is the skin around it that is removed and tightened, pushing the breast mound upward and the nipple with it. This ensures normal feeling and function of the attached nipple.
Scars are needed to do all breast lifts. While this is a concept that I don’t like to counter, some women may get a breast lift result from having implant augmentation alone. If the breast skin is in good shape and the sagging is minimal, some lift will occur with the push of underlying implants. It all centers around how much sagging exists and where is the position of the nipple relative to the lower breast fold. If the nipple sits just above the fold or even on it, the nipple will be lifted up slightly. (maybe a half-inch) But don’t assume that if the nipple sags lower than the lower breast fold that really big implants will provide the push that is needed to create a lifting effect. In this situation, the implants will actually make the sagging look worse.
Despite the challenges that breast lift surgery poses, when carefully chosen and skillfully done, it can provide long-term breast shape improvement…and that is no myth.
Dr. Barry Eppley