Pregnancy, nursing, aging and simply being well-endowed can all cause breasts to droop and sag. Breasts can be so low on the chest wall that there is no hint of cleavage, and they only have shape when stuffed into a very reinforced bra.
Because of this, some women choose to have breast lifts. This is different from breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery, as the size is not being changed, but rather where the breasts sit on the chest wall.
After the patient is sedated (usually under general anesthesia, where the patient is completely put the sleep for the process), the surgeon makes the incisions. One incision is made around the areola (the dark area of the nipple) and extends downward in a straight line where the underside of the breast meets the chest wall (called the breast crease). The next incision goes around the areola, then side to side.
The tissue underneath the breast is lifted up and reshaped, which will correct the breast contour, and improve or restore firmness. The nipple and areola will then be moved so that they closer to where they normally would be. If it was too large, the areola will be reduced, and excess breast skin will be removed, if necessary.
As the incisions are closed, the remaining skin will be pulled tighter, so that the breast tissue becomes even more firm. The breasts are stitched deep on the inside so that they support the now firm tissue, and then the outer skin is closed.
All surgery carries risk, both with the anesthesia and the procedure itself. Risks can include complications from anesthesia (trouble awakening, or vital signs falling dangerously low are two of them), as well as surgical complications. These can include heavy bleeding, severe bruising, infection and damage to underlying nerves, muscles, blood vessels or organs, some of which may be permanent.
The breasts will once again be sitting in their natural place on the chest wall, or fairly close to it. They will be shapely again, and cleavage will again be visible.
The average cost of breast surgery is between $3,500 and $6,000 in 2009. This does not include anesthesia services (another $1,000 to $1,300) and facility or hospital fee (anywhere from $500 to $1,500).
If the surgery is considered strictly cosmetic-done only for improvement of appearance and self image, then most insurance plans will not cover it. However, if the surgery is done as part of breast reduction surgery to correct or eliminate physical problems caused by breasts that are too heavy (such as severe backaches) then the lift surgery may be covered. It will depend on a woman’s individual insurance coverage.