A breast lift, or breast uplift, is an operation to raise and reshape your breasts. It involves surgery to remove excess skin from your breasts, and repositioning your nipple higher up your breast.

Why have a breast lift?
How to get a breast lift
Deciding on breast lift surgery
Preparing for breast lift surgery
What happens during breast lift surgery?
Recovery and what to expect after breast lift surgery
Complications of breast lift
Breast lift costs and fees
Helpful websites
References

Why have a breast lift?

A breast lift can help to improve the appearance of sagging or drooping breasts. Your breasts can naturally droop after pregnancy and breastfeeding, or if you’ve lost a lot of weight. It can be a natural effect of ageing too. You might better about how your breasts look after breast lift surgery.

It’s normally better to delay breast uplift surgery until you’re not planning to have any more children and are no longer breastfeeding.

How to get a breast lift

As a cosmetic procedure (surgery to improve how you look), a breast lift wouldn’t be provided by the NHS. You’ll need to have it done privately. You can find a consultant surgeon using the search function on our website. You should still let your GP know if you have a breast lift, so they can be aware of any ongoing care you may need.

Deciding on breast lift surgery

You’ll have an initial consultation with a surgeon to talk about what you’re hoping to gain from surgery. Your surgeon will go through exactly what to expect, including the benefits and possible risks. They’ll talk to you about the options available and any alternatives to surgery. In some cases, it may be possible to have a breast enlargement at the same time as a breast uplift. Or if your breasts are drooping because they’re too large, your surgeon may suggest a breast reduction .

Your surgeon will want to do a physical examination and assess whether you’re suitable for surgery. They may ask to take some photos of your breasts for your records. You’ll be offered a chaperone before any physical examination. Depending on your age, you may be advised to have a mammogram to check for any signs of breast cancer before going ahead with surgery.

You’ll have some time to think about your decision before committing to surgery.

Preparing for breast lift surgery

 There are various things you can do to prepare for surgery. If you smoke, it’s best if you stop before your operation. Nicotine has a negative effect on wound healing, and smoking significantly increases the risk of other complications too. Try to keep your weight steady, and keep active to maintain your fitness.

Breast lift is usually done under general anaesthesia (meaning you’ll be asleep). Sometimes you may be able to go home on the day of your procedure, but usually you’ll need to stay overnight.

What happens during breast lift surgery?

There are many different techniques for breast uplift. The surgery generally involves making cuts around your areolae, then vertically downwards, often following the natural crease underneath your breasts, like an upside-down ‘T’. Your surgeon will remove excess skin from underneath your breast and then reshape your breast to form a tighter cone shape. They will also lift your nipple and areola into the right position in relation to your new shape. 

Recovery and what to expect after breast lift surgery

Your breasts and chest area are likely to feel tight and sore after the operation – you’ll be given painkillers to help manage this. You’ll have some dressings on your breasts and will need to wear a well-fitting bra with no underwiring for several weeks.

You should be out of bed and mobile on the day of your surgery, and able to return to light activities within a couple of weeks. It can take longer to get back to strenuous activities and heavy lifting. Expect to take up to a couple of weeks off work to recover. You won’t be able to drive for some time after your operation. This may be for two weeks or more, but your surgeon will advise you exactly how long.

It can take several months for everything to settle down and until you can fully judge the final results. You’ll have scars from your surgery, but these will usually become paler over time.

Complications of breast lift

All surgical procedures carry some level of risk. Here are some of the most common complications associated with breast lift. 

  • Alterations in the sensations in your breasts and nipples, which can be permanent.
  • Blood loss during the operation. You may need a transfusion if this happens.
  • Haematoma or seroma. This is a collection of blood or fluid underneath your skin, which can make your breast painful and swollen.
  • Infection. Your breast may feel swollen and tender, and the wound may look red and have some discharge. You may also feel unwell with a high temperature.
  • Delayed healing of your wound, or occasionally breaking down of your wound.
  • Loss of tissue from your skin, breast or nipple, if blood supply to these areas is cut off.

There’s a risk that you might not be happy with the end result. Breasts are rarely ever symmetrical, and surgery can actually increase any differences between your breasts. You also need to bear in mind that the shape of your breasts will change over time as a natural result of ageing. Pregnancy and changes in weight will also change how your breasts look.

Breast lift costs and fees

As a cosmetic procedure, breast lift wouldn’t be available through private medical insurance. You’ll usually need to self-fund this treatment. Breast lift costs in the UK vary.

Typically, an initial consultation with the surgeon will cost between £100 and £200, depending on where you live. If you move forwards with the procedure, you’ll be offered one of the following.

  • An all-inclusive ‘package price’, where you know the full costs before undergoing treatment. Not all consultants and hospitals offer this.
  • A ‘fee-per-service’ deal, where you receive different invoices from the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the hospital. You often won’t know the full costs until you receive the invoices.

For more information, you can read our guide on self-pay.

Helpful websites

References

  • Breast mastopexy. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com, updated 9 July 2020.
  • Breast uplift. British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). baaps.org.uk (accessed 15 September 2021).
  • Martinez AA, Chung S. Breast ptosis. StatPearls. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, last updated 17 January 2021.
  • Lowes S, MacNeill F, Martin L, et al. Breast imaging for aesthetic surgery: British Society of Breast Radiology (BSBR), Association of Breast Surgery Great Britain & Ireland (ABS), British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2018;71(11): 1521-1531. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.07.004.
  • You and your anaesthetic. Royal College of Anaesthetists, February 2020. rcoa.ac.uk
  • Joint briefing: smoking and surgery. Action on Smoking and Health, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Faculty of Public Health, April 2016. ash.org.uk.

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