Big or small, round or teardrop-shaped, wide- or close-set — breasts come in all shapes and sizes. Despite some ideas that certain breast types may be considered “more attractive” than others, or that every woman should love her body regardless of breast type, the simple fact is that some women are happy with the way their breasts look and feel, and others are not. The choice is up to each woman to know how she wants her body to look, what is most comfortable for her and the breast shape that will make her feel the most confident in her appearance. As the premier center for cosmetic surgery in Albany, New York, the team at the Williams Center has worked with women of all body types to change the shape and size of their breasts and to improve their self-esteem and quality of life. Among the procedures we perform is the breast lift, or mastopexy — a surgery designed to correct breasts that sit low on the chest wall due to stretched or sagging skin.
At the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery, breast lift procedures are performed by our expert board-certified breast and body surgeon Dr. Alain Polynice. With years of experience performing breast lifts and breast surgeries of all kinds, Dr. Polynice works with every woman to ensure she feels comfortable and confident in her decision to undergo a breast lift. Our team fully customizes the breast lift experience to address each woman’s concerns and to provide exceptional care from your first phone call to your last follow-up appointment, and beyond.
Request a Consultation
Contact us now to request a consultation for your breast lift in the New York area. You can reach the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery online or by phone at (518) 513-0858.
What is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift, officially known as a mastopexy, is a procedure designed to remove stretched skin and reshape the breast tissue in order to lift the breasts to a higher, more youthful and more symmetrical position on the chest wall. Most women who seek a breast lift have a condition called breast ptosis (pronounced: TOE-sis), which is the technical term for breast sagging. Ptosis can occur naturally over time, as the combination of gravity and the weight of breast tissue stretches the skin and ligaments and causes the breasts to sit lower on the chest. Ptosis can also happen as a result of weight fluctuations or pregnancy when the breasts swell and contract, causing the skin to stretch. Other women have breasts that are naturally bottom-heavy.
Mastopexy is highly customizable and can be adapted to correct all degrees of ptosis. For each woman, the degree of ptosis is classified according to the relationship between the nipple and the inframammary fold (the crease below the breast where the breast meets the chest wall). In the normal breast, the nipple lies above the inframammary fold and on the mound of the breast.
Read Your Complete Guide to Breast Reduction & Breast Lifts
written by Board Certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alain Polynice MD
The degrees of ptosis are:
- First degree: Women with first degree ptosis may have significant breast tissue that falls below the inframammary fold, but the nipple will lie just at the level of the fold and will have minimal downturn. The breasts may appear more “bottom-heavy” than sagging, though may retain some upper-pole fullness.
- Second degree: In second degree ptosis, the upper pole of the breast may appear “deflated” as the breast tissue migrates to the lower pole. The downturn of the nipple becomes more apparent and the nipple-areola complex will fall entirely below the inframammary fold, though the nipple will still sit above the lowest portion of the breast tissue.
- Third degree: Third degree ptosis is characterized by a nipple that points downward and sits below the inframammary fold at the lowest part of the breast. Most of the breast tissue will also fall below the inframammary fold, leading to the appearance of a downturned, rounded breast that has migrated down the chest wall instead of a breast with lower-pole fullness.
- Pseudoptosis: Rather than a degree of true ptosis, some women have naturally bottom-heavy breasts that lead to the appearance of sagging. This is known as pseudoptosis, or false ptosis, and is characterized by a forward-facing nipple-areola complex that sits above the inframammary fold, but with a significant portion of breast tissue below the inframammary fold.
Causes of Sagging Breasts
Whether breasts are large or small, ptosis is inevitable. Time and gravity will cause some amount of ptosis for every woman as she ages beyond adolescence. The degree of ptosis, however, does vary from woman to woman. A variety of elements contribute to this difference, the most significant of which is breast size. Because breasts consist of only ligaments, fat, and connective tissue, breasts will droop over time. The ligaments and skin lose their elasticity and begin to stretch. The larger and heavier a woman’s natural breasts, the more quickly the stretching and sagging will occur.
The rate at which ptosis occurs also is affected by genes, diet, aging and breast size. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause contribute to ptosis as well, and ptosis is often especially evident after significant weight loss. Many childless women and women who have maintained a stable weight, however, also complain of drooping breasts. But just because breast sagging is inevitable doesn’t mean you need to live with these unwanted changes in your body — mastopexy may be an option for you if you are experiencing ptosis for any reason and are unhappy with your appearance as a result.
The Breast Lift Procedure
Breast lift surgery is a relatively comfortable and low-risk procedure because it works only with the patient’s natural breast tissue and does not involve manipulation of underlying glands or muscles. Depending on the patient’s concerns, Dr. Polynice will use one of two breast lift incision techniques: a lollipop incision or an anchor incision.
Lollipop Breast Lift
The lollipop incision is the most commonly used breast lift technique at the Williams Center. It uses a circular incision around the nipple-areola complex and a vertical incision between the areola and the inframammary fold — resulting in the lollipop-shaped scar for which the technique is named. This incision allows Dr. Polynice to access and reposition the breast tissue, trim away some excess skin and suture the incisions closed with the nipple in a more lifted position and the breast tissue more evenly distributed between the upper and lower poles.
Anchor Breast Lift
The anchor incision is similar to the lollipop technique, but uses a small horizontal incision along the inframammary fold to create the “anchor” shape. This technique is often better suited for women who have a higher degree of ptosis and require more excision of loose skin to achieve their best results. Since the extra portion of the incision is well hidden in the fold below the breast, there is no significant difference in visible scarring between the two procedures and our patients find that the slightly larger incision is well worthwhile.
In both types of breast lift, the nipple remains connected to the underlying mammary glands and does not interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed in the future. Scars are easily hidden even in low-cut tops, swimsuits and undergarments; Dr. Polynice also uses internal sutures to minimize the appearance of visible scars. While general anesthesia is available, patients can also choose a combination of twilight and local anesthesia to reduce discomfort after the procedure. Breast lifts at the Williams Center in Albany are most commonly performed as outpatient procedures.
Breast Lift Recovery & Benefits
Patients will return home the same day as their mastopexy in the care of a responsible adult who can serve as a caretaker for the first 24 hours after surgery. Dr. Polynice uses automatic pain pumps to keep patients comfortable in the first few days post-op, eliminating the need for narcotics which often come with unwanted side effects. We recommend planning for one to two weeks away from work or daily responsibilities, and three to four weeks away from strenuous activities like heavy lifting or exercising. Overall, the recovery from a breast lift is more comfortable than that of many other breast procedures, since the surgery only involves surface-level incisions and has few associated risks. As with any surgery, there are possible complications, including infection, poor scar tissue development and decrease in nipple sensation; however, Dr. Polynice’s techniques and recovery instructions are designed to minimize risks and ensure patient safety above all.
Mastopexy is an excellent solution for women who are not happy with the appearance of their breasts but who have a good amount of natural breast tissue and do not need or want implants. Women who undergo this procedure find that it delivers beautiful, natural-looking results that do not interfere with their long-term lifestyle choices. Breast lifts can reduce the need for a woman to wear specialty or uncomfortable undergarments, which can expand wardrobe choices for tops with open backs or low-cut necklines. A mastopexy can also improve the appearance of the breasts in swimsuits or lingerie without structured cups.
Most importantly, a breast lift can make a significant difference in a woman’s self-confidence, as sagging breasts can age the appearance, can be uncomfortable or can simply cause a woman to feel like her body is changing in ways she doesn’t like. At the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery, it is our goal to help every woman feel great about herself and her body every day — Dr. Polynice is happy to perform breast lifts as one of the many procedures that allow us to accomplish this goal and empower women to get their confidence back.
To request a consultation in the New York area, contact the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery online or by phone at 1-518-205-0286.