Breast Lift or Breast Reduction
A breast lift procedure, also known as mastopexy, is designed to reshape drooping breasts to give them a more youthful, uplifted appearance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the demand for a breast lift has increased twice as fast as breast augmentation (enlargement) over the past 20 years.
At Image Surgical Arts, we consider a breast lift to be a type of augmentation procedure. In some cases, your breasts appear a bit larger after surgery, but many women choose a combination procedure, getting implants along with a breast lift. Adding implants can produce the most pleasing overall results. It also provides longer lasting results compared to breast lift alone.
On the other hand, if you have very large, pendulous breasts, you may want a reduction along with a lift. Breast lift, especially with augmentation, is one of the most popular components of a Mommy Makeover.
There are lots of reasons breasts can start to sag:
- Significant weight changes
- The pull of gravity over time
- Loss of volume and skin elasticity due to aging
But even young women can have droopy breasts – sometimes it’s simply a matter of genetics.
With surgery, you can see and enjoy “new and improved” breasts. But there is only one reason to get a breast lift – to please yourself, not someone else.
Breast enhancement is an art as well as a procedure that requires exceptional medical knowledge and surgical skill. Image Surgical Arts’ Dr. Brady Harris, MD is well-known for his artistic and detail-oriented approach to cosmetic surgery. Not only is he a triple board-certified cosmetic surgeon, he also helped develop a specialized technique that enhances breast lift results while reducing visible scarring.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift can:
- Increase fullness and projection of your breasts (most effective with an implant, which can also increase cleavage)
- Improve balance (symmetry) of breast contours
- Correct drooping
- Elevate the nipple and areola to a more youthful position
- Enhance your self-image and self-confidence
The ultimate goal of a breast lift is to elevate the nipple and areola so they face forward rather than downward. Dr. Harris achieves this by removing excess skin as well as some breast tissue. He can also reduce the size of the areolae, if needed, to produce a more visually balanced result.
If you desire greater fullness and more visible cleavage, breast implants are for you. Today’s implants are far superior to older styles in both safety and appearance. There are two types – saline and silicone. Dr. Harris uses both depending on each patient’s goals and aesthetic desires, but he highly recommends silicone implants because they feel so much more natural. There is also less risk of subsurface “rippling.”
Silicone implants come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures, so you can achieve just the look you want, whether it's a modest or more obvious change. You will have a chance to check out implants for yourself and discuss the options with Dr. Harris during your consultation.
Regardless of the details of your surgery, there will be incisions and that means you will have scars. Where Dr. Harris places the incisions depends on the current condition of your breasts’ skin and your desired goals. However, for every breast lift, he always takes special care to make the smallest incisions possible without sacrificing his ability to do his best work for you. All scars fade over time.
What is a Breast Reduction?
A Breast Reduction Can:
- Give you smaller, firmer breasts
- Improve the nipple and areola position
- Reduce painful physical symptoms
- Improve overall body contour balance
- Provide a more symmetrical look
- Re-shape and resize the areola
Your procedure may include removal of breast tissue and removal of excess skin. The nipple can also be resized and repositioned to give you a firmer, more youthful appearance.
What Does a Breast Procedure Involve?
At Image Surgical Arts, we take a holistic approach to patient treatment and experience. So when we talk about breast procedures, we mean everything from your initial complimentary consultation through your final follow-up visit.
Part 1 – Making the Decision
A breast lift or reduction can be an excellent investment in your appearance and self-confidence. But deciding to have surgery requires serious consideration. There is a lot to think about, but our team at Image Surgical Arts is here to make every step as smooth as possible for you. At your initial consultation, you will meet with Dr. Harris to discuss your concerns and goals and explore how we can help you achieve those goals.
Dr. Harris will ask about your past medical and surgical history and any other personal information needed to ensure your procedure is as safe as possible. He will also perform a breast exam and take measurements of your breasts, so you can have the most personalized discussion about breast lift and reduction options as well as the entire surgical process. Bring your questions!
If you want implants, you’ll be able to see and feel silicone and saline options to help decide which you prefer. In some cases, you may also have a chance to try on “sizers” to see how different implant sizes would actually look on you.
Part 2 – Setting the Date
Once you decide to move forward with a breast procedure and that Image Surgical Arts and Dr. Harris are the right practice and surgeon for you, it’s time to schedule your surgery. You won’t have to go to a hospital or general surgical center, because we have our own state-accredited surgery center right here, adjacent to our office. Our patients really appreciate the additional privacy and the quiet, personal-service atmosphere. And since the center serves only our own cosmetic surgery patients, you don’t have to worry about being exposed to patients who have other types of medical conditions.
Part 3 – The Procedure Itself
Because a breast procedure is an outpatient surgery, you will arrive and return home the same day. You’ll need a designated driver. Here’s how your day will likely go:
- Our team will welcome you with our usual friendly smiles. We know you’re excited, and we are excited for you! We will escort you back to our pre-operative area and get you started with an IV for sedation and/or general anesthesia, according to your previous discussion with Dr. Harris and the anesthesia team. Now is the time to ask any last-minute questions.
- Dr. Harris will take “before” photos and draw the lines on your breasts to show his surgical plan. Then we will transfer you to our operating suite, cleanse your skin to disinfect the surgical area, and cover you with sterile towels and drapes.
- Now Dr. Harris takes center stage. For a lift, he will make an incision on the breast below and around the areola and possibly in the breast crease. Then he will lift and reshape underlying breast tissue and insert the implant you have chosen (saline or silicone gel) to produce firmer, fuller contours, reposition the nipples and areolas as needed, reduce areola size, if needed, remove excess skin, and mold the remaining tissue around the implant. It may take as little as an hour or two to perform your breast lift, though it will take longer if you’re getting implants as well as a lift.
- For a reduction, Dr. Harris will make an incision around the areola and down each breast. He will then remove excess breast tissue, fat, and skin to reduce the size of each breast. Lastly, he will reshape the breast, reposition the nipple and areola.
- When Dr. Harris has finished, he will close your incisions and apply sterile dressings. Then, we’ll move you to our recovery room.
- Once you’re awake, it’s time to go home. We will dress you in a post-surgery compression bra which you will have to wear for at least several days, possibly several weeks, depending on your procedure. This garment is your best friend because it supports your breasts so your body can heal faster and more comfortably.
Part 4 – Heading Home
When you arrive back home, your job will be to rest. You can do that in bed, or on the couch or a comfy chair. Our team will go over everything you need to know about at-home care before you leave, and we’ll give that to you in writing as well. If you have traveled a long distance for surgery, we’ll ask that you spend the first night in a nearby hotel. This is because we’ll want to see you back at our office the next morning, to make sure you are doing well and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Questions Mothers Ask about Breast Surgery
Moms and women who may want to have children (or another child) in the future, usually have specific questions and concerns about breast procedures. Even if you’re not a mother, you may have the same questions about things like:
- Whether you’re a good candidate for breast lift
- If your best choice is breast lift alone or a combined lift-plus-augmentation procedure
- Whether saline or silicone implants are better
- If (or how) having surgery now might affect your ability to breastfeed in the future
- The cost of breast lift surgery
This guide should answer most of your questions, but you can also download this free guide which answers the four questions moms and other women ask us.
We know you’ll have lots of questions. Write them down so you don’t forget to ask, even if something seems “small” to you. Every detail matters. The better informed you are, the more confident you will be that you’ve made the best decision for yourself.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Breast Lift or Reduction?
You may be a good candidate for breast surgery if you want to replace drooping breasts and loose skin with new contours that are more elevated. You may also have additional concerns such as asymmetry (one breasts hangs lower) or nipples and areolas than point downward. You are also a good candidate if you want firmer, fuller breasts in addition to a more elevated appearance.
We recommend waiting to have breast lift surgery until you are finished having children. Pregnancy and breast-feeding can distort your breasts, and you don’t want that.
Ideal candidates for any surgery are those who are in good overall physical health. Smokers must abstain from any nicotine products for at least 6 weeks before and after surgery. At Image Surgical Arts, we do not make exceptions to this requirement because smoking directly interferes with healing and surgical results.
Keep in mind that individual results may vary. For that reason, and because perfection doesn’t exist, the best candidates for breast procedures are those with realistic expectations.
We can help you decide if a breast lift or reduction is suitable for you at a complimentary in-person consultation with Dr. Harris. When you meet, Dr. Harris will explain every aspect of the procedure and answer all your questions. He will examine your breasts, take measurements, and recommend the best surgical plan according to your goals.
Fit Check Ensures Just-Right Results
As a leader in breast enhancement surgery, Dr. Harris helped pioneer the Image Surgical Arts Post-Implant Fit Check. This technique adds a step to your procedure, but it enables Dr. Harris to achieve the best possible aesthetic results while reducing potential scarring.
All plastic and cosmetic surgeons draw lines on your skin before they begin any procedure. The lines serve as a roadmap for incisions and reshaping. The Post-Implant Fit Check is a surgical version of “tailor-tacking.” Before he removes excess skin (but after placing the implant, if there is one), he uses temporary skin staples to hold the breast in place. That way he can check his work before he finalizes the breast lift procedure. Is it just right, or does it need to be refined a little?
If too much skin is removed, the incision may stretch during healing, resulting in more obvious scarring. If not enough skin is removed, there will still be some sagging and loose skin. Perfection is an unattainable goal, but Dr. Harris always works meticulously to give each patient the most pleasing results possible. It’s important to note that not every cosmetic surgeon devotes the extra time for this valuable extra step.
Risks and Side Effects
Every surgical procedure comes with risks of complications and side effects. At Image Surgical Arts our top priority is always patient health and safety, so we take every precaution to minimize risks. In fact, because we have invested extensively in building our own state-accredited, office-based surgery center, we can control the patient environment. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of cleanliness and sterilization.
Anytime we make an incision, there is risk of bleeding, infection, and injury to surrounding tissues or structures. Infection occurs when bacteria or other microorganisms are introduced to an area where they don’t normally live. Here’s how we work to prevent infection:
- The skin’s surface normally hosts millions of bacteria, so we cleanse each patient’s skin with hospital grade antiseptic prior to their surgical procedure.
- We use a small but highly trained surgical staff, to minimize exposure to potential contaminants.
- Our surgical suite is reserved strictly for our own cosmetic surgery patients, so there is no risk of cross-contamination that is common in hospitals.
Bleeding: Dr. Harris uses a special instrument that stops tissue bleeding during procedures. He also uses techniques that are as minimally invasive as possible to protect surrounding tissues.
Changes in nipple sensitivity: increased or decreased, these changes are usually temporary. The risk of sensation changes is higher when breast lift and augmentation are combined, but the overall risk is low.
Capsular contracture: if implants are involved, capsular contracture can occur. This happens when the scar tissue the body naturally forms around any foreign object (in this case the implant) becomes abnormally thick. This can lead to breast pain and deformity. Capsular contracture often requires revision surgery for correction.
Poor wound healing: this can occur when patients do not adhere to at-home care instructions. This is no time to take shortcuts or skimp on the rest your body needs to heal nicely.
The Recovery Process
Naturally, you will need to budget down time to recover from breast surgery, but the process is pretty straight forward. Although each person is different, you will have some initial bruising and swelling in your breasts, and you can expect to feel sore for up to a week. Regardless, we will give you prescriptions for pain medicine and a muscle relaxer you can use at home. Many of our patients say the discomfort isn’t pain so much as the feeling you might get if you overdid your chest workout at the gym, so they find the muscle relaxer more beneficial than pain medication.
Along with medications, we will give you complete instructions for self-care once you return home. For example, you will have sterile dressings or bandages over your incisions and you will need to wear a compression bra for an extended period of time.
Your instructions will include information on when and how you can start to exercise and when you can return to work and other daily routines. There will be things you must avoid, especially right at first, so your body can focus on rest and healing. If you’re a mom with younger kids, you will have to be especially careful not to undertake the kind of lifting you normally do without giving it a thought. You will need to enlist help. Post-procedure requirements are one of the things Dr. Harris will discuss with you during your consultation.
Typically, breast surgery patients are back to work and less strenuous activities within two weeks. That said, recovery depends in large part on you. Since your body needs rest at first, make the most of it! Pampering yourself during the first several days will make your recovery smoother and faster.
- In addition to finding someone to drop you off and bring you home from our surgery center, we strongly recommend that someone stay with you overnight. And, as noted, if you have young children, someone other than you will have to attend to them for several days.
- Set aside an official recovery space – your bed or a comfortable seating area where you can hang out with necessities such as water, the TV or a book right at hand.
- Plan ahead for nutritious meals and ways to exercise (only as directed!). A healthy diet and light exercise promote blood flow, which is critical for healing.
- No smoking for at least six weeks after surgery! You don’t want to prolong your recovery or damage your results.
Keep your phone handy, too, so you can give us a quick call if you have questions.
What Do These Breast Procedures Cost?
Cosmetic surgery is an investment in your personal confidence and wellbeing, but it can be quite expensive. Naturally, you want to know about the cost before you make a final decision to have surgery. There are several factors that can affect the price, most notably the specific details of your surgery since every procedure is custom-tailored to each patient. At Image Surgical Arts, breast lift surgery starts at $7,999 and a reduction may cost more because liposuction is involved.
If you are comparing pricing among multiple practices, it is essential to compare them side by side rather than simply looking at the bottom line. Quotes can vary significantly, and often that reflects what is included. Here at Image Surgical Arts, we make it easy by providing an all-inclusive initial quote. It includes:
- Preoperative lab tests (if needed)
- Surgeon’s fees
- Surgical facility fee and supplies
- Your first post-operative bra
- Follow-up visits
In the case that there are other expenses, additional compression garments or prescription medications for example, we will tell you up front.
Not all practices do this, so you might get a quote that is incomplete. Anything missing will be billed to you after your procedure, and that could be quite a shock – just when you should be focused on recovering calmly.
At Image Surgical Arts, we are able to keep our costs lower than many other practices because we own our own surgery center. We perform only cosmetic surgeries, so we don’t have to purchase unnecessary supplies or pay fees to an outside surgical center or hospital. We are happy to pass along these savings to our patients! You will receive an all-inclusive quote when you visit for your complimentary consultation. You will not receive a bill for anything after the fact unless there is something you want to add.
Cosmetic surgery procedures are elective, so medical insurance does not cover them. Nonetheless, you should double-check with your own insurance provider just to be sure, since policies and coverage vary widely. At Image Surgical Arts, we offer several financing options that may be helpful for you.
Choosing the Right Cosmetic Surgeon
Deciding to have breast surgery can be life-changing. It’s certainly exciting. But you want to be as excited about your results afterward as you are now, thinking about how you will look. That depends almost entirely on the surgeon you choose to perform your procedure.
Doing your homework will pay off in confidence and peace of mind as well as a best quality outcome. So plan to dig deep and ask questions. Lots of questions. The best cosmetic surgeons are more than happy to give you helpful answers because they understand what is at stake for you. They will probably answer questions you didn’t even know to ask.
Here’s what to look for in an exceptional cosmetic surgeon.
This is critical when you’re considering surgeons. Certification is optional, and because it’s difficult to become certified many surgeons don’t take this extra step. Those that do earn certification have proven they have the knowledge, skill and dedication to perform top quality surgery. Some surgeons elect to become certified by more than one medical board. Dr. Brady Harris is triple board-certified. That alone speaks volumes about his dedication to his craft and to his patients.
It is not typically common knowledge that, in many states, any licensed surgeon can perform cosmetic surgery. For your breast lift or reduction, you probably don’t want a surgeon whose primary experience is not cosmetic in nature. You need a surgeon who is focused on the artfulness of the procedure as well as the complexities of breast anatomy. Look for someone who has extensive successful experience performing procedures just like the one you plan to have. It’s your body and your future appearance.
We used to talk about “bedside manner” – that special something that makes a doctor warm and approachable so you feel comfortable discussing your most intimate concerns honestly. If you don’t like your prospective surgeon, you are not going to form a good partnership with them, and that will hamper your (and their) ability to develop exactly the right approach to achieving your breast enhancement goals.
Your personal, face-to-face consultation with Dr. Harris is your chance to evaluate him just as he will evaluate your breasts for possible surgical improvement. Patients say he’s easy to talk to – you can trust him and ask all your questions because as a highly experienced surgeon he has seen and heard it all before.
When you choose a surgeon you trust personally as well as professionally, that added confidence will positively impact your expectations, your surgery, your recovery, and your happiness with the outcome.
About Image Surgical Arts
Our Nashville clinic incorporates a 6,000 square foot, state-accredited surgery center. You never have to leave our office to benefit from the latest equipment, technology, and techniques. That’s great news, but no matter how advanced the facility and the surgeon’s skill, he or she does not work alone.
So while you’re considering qualifications and comfort level with surgeons, be sure to consider their entire practice. Chances are good you will interact with most if not all the team members for one reason or another. That includes everything from friendly greetings on the phone to answering questions until you feel you have all the information you need.
The entire team should be just as open and honest with you as the surgeon. That’s the way we do things here at Image Surgical Arts, because helping you reach your aesthetic goals is our main mission. We want you to have the safest, most advanced medical care possible. But we also want you to feel welcomed into our clinic and, frankly, pampered a little, too. We want you to love every part of your experience, not just the final results.
What Results Should I Expect After Breast Surgery?
Results from your breast procedure will be immediate and long-lasting. Directly following your procedure, you’ll be able to see noticeably higher, more youthful appearing breasts, with greater fullness if you have also chosen implants. As swelling dissipates, changes in shape and firmness will continue to become more evident. All in all, it will take several months for your breasts to settle and for you to see final results.
Depending on the details of your surgery, your results should last between eight and ten years. We will discuss with you steps you can take to maintain and prolong your results. The two most important things you can do are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and stable, healthy weight.
But How Will You Look?
There is no such thing as perfect breasts. Patients who are happiest with their post-surgery results are those who go into the procedure with realistic expectations. You can read descriptions of what a breast lift can do, but it’s hard to form a good mental picture. So there is no substitute for the real thing – photos of patients who have undergone the procedure.
The more photos you review, the better you will understand what is possible and what is not. However, since a breast surgery is individually tailored to each patient, you will get the most realistic idea about your own potential results by reviewing photos of women most like you in age, body type and pre-surgery condition. Look for before images of patients who have a similar breast size and nipple position as you currently have.
Looking at before and after images can also help you find the surgeon who is best-suited for you. Possibilities are one thing, but the surgeon is the person whose hands will transform those possibilities into reality. It is essential to see for yourself what your prospective surgeon has accomplished for his or her own patients.
Although your results will be unique to you, studying before and after pictures will give you a good mental picture of your own results and also help you discuss your concerns and desires with your surgeon. At Image Surgical Arts, we think you’ll be impressed with the results Dr. Harris has achieved for his many breast lift and augmentation patients.
Look Great. Feel Great!
IMAGE SURGICAL ARTS
The Bottom Line
Cosmetic surgery may be elective, and some people think it’s a luxury. But the truth is, a skilled cosmetic surgeon can correct breasts that affect your self-image and everyday life. A breast lift with or without augmentation can make you more comfortable physically, more attractive (however you define that) in your clothes, and more self-assured. A breast reduction can alleviate long-tolerated back, neck, and shoulder pain. That’s not luxury, that’s a big improvement in your health and wellbeing.
If you’re considering a breast lift or reduction, why wait to learn more? Scheduling a personal consultation with Dr. Brady Harris will help you explore your options and understand how this procedure can lift your spirits as well as your breasts.