What is a breast lift. Simply put, a breast lift is any breast shaping procedure designed to lift and shape the breast into a more youthful and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Breast lifts are generally needed to correct breast ptosis. Breast ptosis is when the areola, breast tissue, or both have sagged below the border of the infra-mammary fold or breast fold.
There are many different type of breast lift procedures, but they can all be better understood based on three different main types of breast lifts.
Purse-string breast lift
A purse string breast lift is also known as a “donut lift” or a Benelli lift. These types of breast lifts use only a circular incision around the areola. Because of this, these types of breast lifts are sometimes also referred to as an areolaplasty. Because the incision used is only around the areola, only mild-to-moderate breast ptosis. A purse-string breast lift generally only elevates the areola higher and does not have the potential to significantly elevate and reshape the breast mound itself.
Vertical breast lift
A vertical breast lift is also known as a “lollipop lift”. It sometimes also goes by the name circum-vertical breast lift. This is perhaps the most commonly used breast lift as it is able to elevate the areola as well as the breast mound. When designed properly, a vertical breast lift can also “cone” the breast mound allowing the breast to be shaped from a flatter, longer appearance to a more compact and perkier appearance. For patients that have a lot of ptosis or a lot of loose breast skin, a vertical breast lift sometimes requires the vertical incision to curve toward the side of the breast preventing the incision from going down onto the abdomen skin.
Full breast lift
A full breast lift can result in a variety of different incisions. A full breast lift is designed to help women with significant loose skin or very ptotic breasts. When this type of breast lift result in a large horizontal incision as well in the breast fold it is often referred to an anchor breast lift because of the resemblance of the final incision line to the shape of an anchor. Although this is still routinely performed, I rarely use this method to accomplish a breast lift even in the most ptotic breasts. By redesigning the vertical breast lift, I am often able to perform significant breast lifts utilizing only a circular incision around the areola and a vertical incision that curves to the side. For women that have a lot of loose skin or tissue on the side of the breast and chest, I extend this “vertical” incision to allow me to remove the side breast and side chest tissue. This results in a “cleaning up” of the side of the breast/chest and often result in a much more aesthetically please breast with a well defined side-breast. I often refer to this breast lift as an extended breast lift.
Common myths of a breast lift procedure:
- The areola is detached and re-attached. The areola is simply left attached to the breast tissue and the breast tissue is used to move the areola higher.
- Drains are needed for a breast lift. I do not use drains for breast lifts nor do I see the need for routine use of drains.
- Breast lifts result in loss of nipple sensation. Although nipple sensation loss is possible I have not encountered this in my practice.
- Breast feeding is not possible after a breast lift. Since the nipple and areola are left attached to the breast tissue, breast feeding should not be affected after a breast lift.