Female bodies tend to change dramatically with pregnancy and hormonal influence. The aging process can be an additional factor to the effects of gravity and skin elasticity. The breasts will especially be affected by all of these factors including weight loss and gain over time. As we age, these breast tissues can weaken and begin to sag; this sagging in the breasts has to do with the internal structures of the breasts and the dramatic shift from the upward and shapely position to a sagging and flattened shape.
Why do the breasts sag?
To understand why our breasts are overcome by the effects of gravity and why the tissues within them are easily pulled downward, we should know a little about their structure. One of the first things to understand is that the breasts themselves are not full of muscular tissues like most areas of the body. There are muscle tissues beneath the breasts that support the chest, and there are small round or circular muscles around the small portion of the areola. Inside of the breasts, we have fatty tissues and glands that will, should you ever become pregnant, produce breast milk for breastfeeding. Other glands that are present throughout the body such as the lymph nodes line the breast tissue as well. However, the main culprits of ptosis (sagging) are the ligaments.
Weak Ligaments Create Sag
While there are no muscles specifically within the larger portion of the breast, mainly composed of softer tissues, there are supporting ligaments that are connected to the pectoralis muscles. These ligaments are one of the big factors that allow the breasts to sag as we are affected by changes in the body. Pregnancy causes the breasts to swell as milk is produced to accommodate for breastfeeding. Once pregnancy or weight loss occur the breasts shrink in size, but the excess skin remains. In addition to the expanding of the skin, the ligaments that support these milk glands stretch to the new size of the breasts. Sagging happens when the excess skin is left over, and this is what we aim to get rid of when we recommend the breast lift procedure at Southern California Center for Surgical Arts.
Breast Lift Can Reposition and Restore
Women that have gone through larger fluctuations in weight, or have completed all previous pregnancies and wish to reshape their breasts to their former youthful shape, are perfect candidates for the breast lift or mastopexy. The breast lift helps to get rid of the sagging skin on the breasts and lift the breasts to a new position while reshaping the tissues to allow for a slight increase in volume and symmetrical placement. Depending on the level of sagging (ptosis) and the position of the nipples, Dr. Elias will assess the degree of lift required.
A breast lift does not guarantee a complete full breast regarding volume; a lift is a basic step to lift the breast into a new position if the tissues beneath are suffering from specific degrees of sag. Should you require an additional procedure to restore added volume, Dr. Elias will recommend a breast lift with implants. The degree of sagging in the breasts will determine what type of lift or incisions will be made during your custom breast lift. Degrees of sag range from mild and moderate to severe sagging of the breasts. Women with smaller breasts and a healthy weight suffer from mild sagging, but could be moderate dependent on the activities they perform or degree of exercise they do daily.
Four Types of Incisions in Breast Lift
Crescent lift: Mild sag, minimally invasive breast lift. This incision is made in a half-moon shape on the top of the nipple areola complex. This degree of lift is slight but is less complex than other breast lifts. The doctor will simply remove the skin above the nipple to pull the nipple into a higher position. The areola complex is pulled up from its previously lowered angle.
Donut lift: For women who would like to reduce the size of the areola surrounding the nipple, this incision will allow for that reduction in size. This incision is made around the nipple and areola in a circular cutout, to cut away some of the areola and the excess skin. This lift incision is for women who have mild sagging and smaller breasts.
Lollipop lift: For our clients with moderate to severe sagging and larger breasts, this incision is made by removing some of the skin above the nipple in a circular shape (lollipop shape) to pull the nipple up and into a new position. Some skin is removed from the top of the areola border to make room for repositioning.
Inverted T or anchor lift: This is the most invasive breast lift technique, but it’s the best option for those looking to get a dramatic lift with larger breasts and severe sagging. This incision removes the skin around the nipple areola complex, but also skin from on the underside of the breast and above the areola. This provides removal of the extensive excess skin all around the breast for reshaping and repositioning. This is the most dramatic breast lift incision.
Benefits of a Breast Lift:
- Correction of breast sag
- Rejuvenation of breast shape and form
- Restoration of breast symmetry
- Added confidence
In addition to the natural causes of breast volume loss and laxity of the skin, there are other causes for cosmetic concerns. Patients with breast asymmetry or congenital breast deformity, such as tubular or constricted breasts can benefit from a breast lift as well. It’s important that you talk with Dr. Elias and explain all of your concerns before deciding on breast lift. The breast lift procedure only takes one to two hours total. You can return home directly after surgery.
After your procedure, Dr. Elias will add specific dissolvable or non-dissolvable stitches to the inner tissues of the incision areas and on the outside of incisions for added healing support. The placement of these incisions will likely produce minimal scarring over time. You will be fitted with a compression bra or dressings to make sure the incisions are held in place and given the support they need to heal comfortably without any complications.
Activity will need to be reduced, and any healing should take place within the following weeks under the direction of Dr. Elias. You can see immediate results for most lift procedures, but over a few months of recovery, you will see the difference begin to show. There may be some slight swelling, bruising and sensitivity to the area, but this should all reduce over time.