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Ask a doc: ‘What should I know before getting a breast lift?’

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A growing number of women are opting to reverse gravity by getting a surgical breast-lift procedure.

The prevalence of breast lifts has risen 70% since 2000 — twice the growth of breast implant surgery, according to new statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

“A breast lift — or ‘mastopexy’ — is a procedure in which excess skin is removed to tighten the breast envelope,” said New York-based plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Constance M. Chen in comments to Fox News Digital. 

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“This also repositions the breast tissue and the nipple-areolar complex higher on the chest wall.”

Why do women opt for breast lifts?

All women’s breasts change with time and gravity, Chen noted. 

Breast lift split

New York-based plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Constance M. Chen (shown at left) shares what women should know if they are considering getting a breast lift surgery. (Constance M. Chen/iStock)

“As women get older, it is typical and natural for the skin to lose elasticity and for the breasts to drop,” she said. 

Breastfeeding is the biggest cause of this, she said; but occasionally some women who did not breastfeed may find that their breasts droop over time. 

“Menopause is also a factor, because dense, glandular breast tissue is replaced by fat — and fatty tissue is softer and less firm,” Chen said. 

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”If a woman is unhappy about sagging breasts, the only way to fix it is surgery,” the doctor said. “A well-fitted bra can provide support for a better look in clothes, but exercises to firm the underlying chest muscles won’t impact the breast tissue itself.” 

In most cases, a mastopexy will not change the size of the breasts, even though the result may make the breasts appear fuller and rounder, according to Chen. 

Woman with doctor

The prevalence of breast lifts has risen 70% since 2000 — twice the growth of breast implant surgery, according to new statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (iStock)

“In cases where a woman wants larger or smaller breasts, additional procedures such as augmentation or reduction can be done in conjunction with a breast lift,” she said. 

Dr. Brian Reagan of CosmetiCare, who practices in San Diego, California, said many patients come to his practice for lifts after they have children — usually a few months post-breastfeeding.

“The breasts will change for months after breastfeeding, so we want to wait a minimum of three months,” he told Fox News Digital.

Types of breast lifts

There are several different mastopexy procedures depending on the degree of lift needed, Chen advised.

A “crescent lift” is the least invasive procedure. In this case, a crescent of skin at the top of the nipple-areolar complex is removed to improve the position of the nipple, Chen said. 

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“The crescent lift is called for when the breasts are basically perky, but the woman wants her nipple-areolar complex adjusted upward slightly,” the doctor noted. 

“In cases where a woman also wants bigger breasts, the crescent lift can be performed in conjunction with breast augmentation.”

Woman in mirror

“As women get older, it is typical and natural for the skin to lose elasticity and for the breasts to drop,” said a New York-based plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist (not pictured).  (iStock)

A “Benelli lift” is also used to provide a small lift for barely drooping breasts. 

“Here, a doughnut-shaped incision is made around the nipple-areolar complex, and the skin is tightened,” Chen said. “While this kind of breast lift is less invasive than a full lift, it can have the side effect of flattening the breast. An implant can be used to improve the projection of the breast.”

A “lollipop lift,” or a short-scar vertical mastopexy, is used when the breast tissue itself needs to be positioned higher on the chest wall, the doctor noted. 

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“The short-scar vertical mastopexy refers to the limited scars around the nipple-areolar complex and then vertically to the fold below the breast, which looks like a lollipop,” Chen said. “In this procedure, more breast skin is removed, and the underlying breast tissue is repositioned to significantly change the breast shape and lift it up.” 

Finally, an “anchor lift” — or the traditional Wise-pattern mastopexy — adds a horizontal scar along the crease below the breast to the same scars of the vertical mastopexy, which allows for reshaping and repositioning of the tissue. 

Woman at doctor's office

Every plastic surgery procedure comes with some degree of risk — and breast lifts are no exception, experts say. (iStock)

“This is an older procedure used by older surgeons not trained in the vertical mastopexy, who are particularly prone to using it when there is significant sagging in large breasts,” Chen noted.

The vertical and the Wise-pattern mastopexies are both full breast lifts that are equally effective in creating a perkier, more youthful result, according to Chen. 

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“The vertical mastopexy is also called the ‘short-scar mastopexy’ because it eliminates the horizontal scar in the inframammary fold,” she said. “It is an improvement on the anchor lift.”

She added, “The full mastopexy is the most commonly performed breast lift, because it is usually the appropriate technique for someone who wants a noticeable change to their breast appearance.”

Risks of breast lifts

Every plastic surgery procedure comes with some degree of risk — and breast lifts are no exception.

Woman with doctor

“The ideal candidate [for a breast lift] is someone who is healthy, has no medical issues and has deflated, droopy breasts,” one expert said.  (iStock)

Reagan said the main risks associated with breast lifts are a decrease in nipple sensation, potential loss of tissue (including the nipple) and poor scarring.

Due to elevated risk, there are certain groups of people who are not good candidates for the procedure, he said.

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He advises against smokers getting a breast lift, for example.

“Actively smoking can cause delayed healing and possible open wounds,” Reagan said. 

He recommends kicking the habit at least six to eight weeks prior to surgery.

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People who have existing medical issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, are also not good candidates, the doctor warned.

“The ideal candidate is someone who is healthy, has no medical issues and has deflated, droopy breasts,” he said.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health

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