Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Procedure | MedStar Health

For sagging breasts, a breast lift (or mastopexy) can help lift and restore a youthful look. Breast sagging, also known as breast ptosis, can affect women differently, ranging from mild or moderate to severe. Our plastic surgeons can evaluate your condition and determine the most desirable technique for lifting the breasts.

A typical breast lift involves incisions around the nipple and on the lower part of the breasts, which allow the surgeon to remove skin and tighten tissue. These techniques result in elevated, reshaped breasts.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

You and your doctor will discuss in detail the technique that’s best suited to your body and goals.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll receive general anesthesia through an IV. Your doctor will make incisions designed to minimize visual scarring. Depending on the technique, these may be:

  • around the areola
  • around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease
  • around the areola, vertically down to the breast crease, and horizontally along the breast crease

After the incisions are made, your doctor will lift and reshape the breast tissue and reposition the nipple and areola higher up on your breast. If areolas are enlarged, your doctor can remove excess skin. He or she will also remove excess skin as needed to improve contour, firmness, and compensate for lost elasticity. The incision will be closed with sutures, skin adhesive, and/or surgical tape.

Recovery after breast lift surgery

After the procedure, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze with a support garment to help minimize swelling and support your breasts during the healing process. A tube may be inserted under the skin to help drain any excess blood or fluid. You’ll typically return home after recovering for a few hours.

After returning home, you’ll wear your support garment and follow your doctor’s instructions for prescribed medications. You’ll need to take it easy during the initial healing process to prevent bleeding and pain. While pain typically subsides within the first week, you may have soreness, itchiness, and swelling for a few weeks after surgery. Your doctor will advise you on when to resume normal activity and exercise, and it’s important to follow these instructions even if you feel up to doing more. Your scars, while permanent, will fade over time. Depending on the technique, some scars will be hidden in natural creases, while others may be more visible.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for a breast lift?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • You’re not pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come along with surgery
    • You’re bothered by breast sagging or a loss in shape and volume
    • Your breasts have a flat or elongated shape, or are pendulous (nipple and lower breast mass fall below the breast crease)
    • Your nipples and areolas point downward
    • Your skin is stretched and areolas have become enlarged
    • One breast is lower than the other
  • How much does a breast lift cost?

    The costs for a breast lift will vary based on the type of procedure and your specific needs. Most insurance plans do not cover breast lifts.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

  • Is breast lift covered by insurance?

    In most cases, a breast lift is not covered by insurance. However, it’s recommended to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier. You may have insurance coverage when the procedure is performed as part of a breast reconstruction surgery or breast reduction surgery.

  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of breast lift surgery?

    As with any surgery, a breast lift does pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Breast contour, shape, or symmetry irregularities
    • Bleeding or blood clots
    • Changes in nipple or breast sensation
    • Fat tissue death (necrosis)
    • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
    • Infection
    • Persistent pain
    • Poor scarring
    • Possibility of revision surgery
    • Potential partial or total loss of nipple and areola

    In addition to these risks, you should be aware that a breast lift generally does not last a lifetime. Pregnancy, changes in weight, and aging can affect breast appearance. Over time, your breasts will begin to sag again, but likely not as severe as they would have without the breast lift procedure.

  • How should I prepare for surgery?

    Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the procedure on the day of surgery, and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information, visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.