A breast lift, technically known as a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to lift and reshape a woman's breasts. It can be performed as its own procedure or combined with an augmentation to both lift and enlarge the breasts. At the time of your initial consultation, you will meet with Dr. Barlow and discuss your concerns and goals. He will examine you and then offer possible surgical solutions. At this time, the extent of lift required and the possibility of adding volume with an implant will be addressed. Pre-operative photographs will be made to facilitate surgical planning. Of course, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered.
There are many variations on a mastopexy depending on how far upward the nipple-areolar complex (NAC) needs to move and how much skin needs to be removed. Some women are candidates for a crescentic or peri-areolar mastopexy. Both of these techniques offer only modest lifting but also have minimal incisions, which are located at the border between the areola and the adjacent breast skin.
A vertical scar mastopexy adds a vertically-oriented scar along the meridian of the breast and permits a much larger lifting of the NAC. An incision is still required around the areola. Because of the round areolar shape and vertical closure line, this technique has been called the "lollipop lift."
For larger lifts, a full-scar mastopexy is indicated. As the name implies, the closure lines are longer than the vertical scar mastopexy. With this procedure, an additional incision line is placed in the inframammary fold.
You will again see Dr. Barlow for a pre-operative appointment. The surgical plan will be reviewed and any additional questions answered. Dr. Barlow will note any changes in your medical history and will listen to your heart and lungs. You will also be given prescriptions to fill prior to your procedure. You will then register at the hospital.
Dr. Barlow's surgical time for bilateral mastopexies varies between one and three hours, depending on technique. Dr. Barlow performs all breast procedures in two hospitals in the Clear Lake/Houston area (CHRISTUS St. John Hospital where he is co-director of the Plastic Surgery Program or Clear Lake Regional Hospital where he serves as the Plastic Surgery Section Head on the Surgical Executive Committee) as an outpatient procedure. This is an important distinction. In Texas, a fully trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon is granted hospital privileges to perform mastopexies. Physicians who call themselves cosmetic surgeons may not have completed a plastic surgery residency. In fact, some cosmetic surgeons have not completed a single day of any surgical residency, let alone a plastic surgery residency. These physicians generally perform procedures in their own facilities because they cannot obtain hospital credentials. There is only one certifying board for plastic surgeons that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and that is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The American Board of Medical Specialties governs and regulates each residency program, insuring that every graduate has met a rigorous training standard.
Post-operatively, you will be seen within a day or two to evaluate your healing. Bruising is common as is a moderate amount of swelling in the operative areas. You will be seen weekly for the first month, every other week for the second month and then every other month out to six months. You will be followed annually from then on. Patients who are over 40 or who have an increased family risk of breast cancer will be required to have a current mammogram prior to proceeding with surgery.
Full activities are resumed gradually but rigorous exercise is prohibited for the first post-operative month. This will allow your body time to recover from the surgery and avoid any unnecessarily prolonged swelling. During the early recovery period, increased activity will often lead to increased swelling.
Mastopexy is a very gratifying procedure for both Dr. Barlow and his patients. Dr. Barlow looks forward to meeting with you and discussing your options. Call or e-mail today to schedule your appointment!