Here, two plastic surgeons break down the breast lift procedure, who a good candidate is, the side effects, how long recovery is, and everything else you need to know before going under the knife.
With the plastic surgery and injectable stigma slowly becoming a thing of yesteryears, people are becoming more transparent about the work they have done, and as such, more people are becoming interested in getting work done themselves — whether it be Botox, lip fillers, breast implants, or something else.
Regardless of the treatment, there are more people than ever going under the knife or needle. The Aesthetic Society found that in 201, surgical procedures increased 54% and non-surgical procedures were up 44%. Of those, breast lifts were in the top five surgical treatments.
We asked two plastic surgeons to weigh in on the treatment to understand what the surgery involves, what recovery looks like, potential side effects, results, and more.
A breast lift procedure is probably better explained as a breast shape improvement procedure, explains Steven M. Levine, MD, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon. "The nipple is elevated to a more favorable position and the skin envelope around the breast is tightened so the breast appears more youthful, denser, and in a higher post."
Despite them being two completely different procedures, the answer isn't always straightforward. "This is complicated," says Stafford Broumand, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon at 740 Park Plastic Surgery. "Patients who have sagging that cannot be corrected with just an augmentation always have the option to lift the breasts and put an implant in for added volume if that is their aesthetic goal."
Dr. Levine also notes that, usually, breasts appear smaller after a lift procedure. So, if patients don't want to lose volume or want to add some, a breast augmentation would be a better option. "This procedure can also have a lifting effect on the breast," he confirms.
Dr. Broumand says that anyone who has sagging/ptotic breasts. "[It] can be genetic, from weight loss or gain, post-pregnancy and breastfeeding, or natural aging," he explains. The typical demographic for a breast lift patient is a woman who is finished having children and wants to get the shape of her pre-children breast back, according to the President of The Aesthetic Society, William P. Adams, Jr., MD.
However, Dr. Levine says that anyone who would like to change the shape of their breasts without adding volume is a good candidate, and ideally, they're a non-smoker. "Some women are born with more laxity in their breast tissue than others and would be happier with a tighter, higher breast, even without having been pregnant," he says.
And if you're curious about when people decide to opt for a breast lift, a 2020 study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that broke down the patients' demographic by age found that 18% are between the ages 55-69, 40% are between 40-54, 27% are 30-39, and 11% are aged 20-29.
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Any procedure or professional treatment aways comes with a risk. However, Dr. Levine says that minimal scarring could occur, and Dr. Broumand says it could result in decreased nipple sensitivity. He also says that there's a chance the surgery can reduce a woman's ability to breastfeed, but that there's no scientific data to back that up. "I just think the warning is important," he explains.
Dr. Levine says that breast lifts cause very little pain and that patients typically feel well within one to three days.
"After their two-week follow-up, patients are generally allowed to resume some low-impact exercise, at four weeks a normal gym routine, and by six weeks they generally do not have any restrictions," says Dr. Broumand.
As with every plastic surgery and in-office treatment, the price varies dramatically depending on geographical location and practitioner. Dr. Broumand says that breast lifts are typically pricier than breast augmentations, and Dr. Levine says they can range anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000 depending on what exactly is being done and who is doing it.