Episode 13: What are the Different Kinds of Breast Lift?
What are the different kinds of breast lift? So first, a little bit of vocabulary, and that's just to say that a breast lift is the same thing as a mastopexy. And the goal of a breast lift is exactly what it sounds like, it's to make the breasts higher or more perky, and this is a procedure that is often performed after a woman HAS finished having children. And that's the ideal time for this procedure, because pregnancy and breastfeeding, it can cause the breasts to droop or sag. That's not to say that it's the only time to have this procedure. There are plenty of women who have droopy or saggy breasts, just due to genetics, or after they've lost a significant amount of weight, and they would like to improve the appearance of their breasts, prior to childbearing. But it's just a good idea to remember that if childbearing is in the near future, it's probably not the best time to go ahead with one of these procedures, because the process of being pregnant and breastfeeding will likely undo most of the work that was done.
What is the best kind of breast lift for you?
So there are essentially three types of breast lift or mastopexy, and the kind of breast lift that is performed depends primarily how droopy, or ptotic the breast is. And breast ptosis or droopiness is graded on a scale from one to three, with one being the least severe, and three being the most severe, and the degree of ptosis is judged by the position of the nipple, relative to the position of the fold under the breast, or the inframammary fold. So a grade I ptosis is considered a minor ptosis, a grade II ptosis is considered an intermediate ptosis, and a grade III ptosis is considered a severe ptosis.
So just like there are three grades of ptosis severity, there are also three primary types of mastopexy, or breast lift. And the first type is called a periareolar mastopexy, and periareolar means around the areola, and just like its name implies a periareolar mastopexy is performed by essentially making an incision at the border of the areola and the regular breast skin, and then another incision, a number of millimeters or centimeters around that one. So it actually, if you look at the incision pattern, it looks like a donut, where the areola is at the center of the donut, and that's why this kind of breast lift, or mastopexy, was nicknamed the donut master mastopexy.
And the skin between the two incisions is removed, and the resulting wound is sewn together, and the result of this, due to the geometry of the breast, is that a breast lift results. Now, it's a fairly minor lift. We usually say that you can't get them more than about a centimeter or two of height of lift, with a donut or circumareolar mastopexy, but for someone that just has a small amount of ptosis, that has grade I ptosis, it's a very good option, because there is minimal scarring and it's a very easy recovery.
Now, for people that have more significant ptosis, like a grade II ptosis, we start to talk about what's called a circumvertical mastopexy, and this is just like a circumareolar mastopexy, with the addition of an incision that goes down the front of the breast, and that's why the name of this is circumvertical. Circum refers to the circular incision around the areola, and vertical refers to the scar, or the incision that goes straight up and down the breast. And this is a very powerful operation that can effectively treat grade II ptosis.
Now, for very severe forms of ptosis, or very significant breast drooping, we move to what's called an inverted T of mastopexy, also called a wise pattern mastopexy. And this procedure is just like a circumvertical mastopexy, with the addition of a horizontal scar under the breast fold. So this pattern of incision really resembles an anchor, in a lot of ways.
So just to review, for grade I ptosis, a circumareolar mastopexy is a great choice. For grade II ptosis, a circumvertical mastopexy is a good option, and I'll just throw in here that a circumvertical mastopexy is often called a lollipop mastopexy, because that's what the incision pattern looks like. It's circular around the areola, and then a vertical line extending down from that circle, like the stick of a lollipop. And for the most severe kind of breast ptosis, a grade III ptosis, we are often looking at a inverted T mastopexy, also called a wise pattern mastopexy, or even an anchor mastopexy.
Will I have scars after a breast lift?
And as you can imagine, just by listening to these descriptions, breast lift procedures, or mastopexies, are operations that do cause a significant amount of scarring on the breast. The good news though, is that in most people, with a well-designed mastopexy, those scars go on to heal very well over time, and often become difficult to see. However, it's important to understand that scars do last forever, and you will have scars after having a mastopexy. So this is an operation where someone is essentially trading off having scars on their breasts, for having a really nice breast shape. And this is a personal decision, and for a lot of people, a breast lift or a mastopexy is a really good option.