Most breast lift (mastopexy) procedures are performed as an outpatient under anesthesia but generally have a fairly quick recovery. Most of the risks of breast lift surgery mirror those of other types of cosmetic surgery.
Bleeding is a risk with any operation. Bleeding will cause bruising after surgery and can slow your recovery but it is rare to have bleeding to the severity of needing to go back to surgery to control it. Bleeding into the skin flaps on the breast can threaten their blood supply and result in skin loss; therefore, it is important to take seriously the list of medications to avoid before surgery that can cause excessive bleeding. Most are over the counter medications like aspirin, fish oil, vitamin E, ibuprofen and many others. You should discuss any medication that you area taking with your surgeon and avoid these medications if possible for two weeks before surgery.
Infection is relatively rare with breast lift surgery. It is common to be on antibiotics at least for a short period of time around the surgery. A dose is generally given intravenously just before the procedure begins.
Scarring occurs with any procedure involving an incision. With breast lift procedures, skin is removed to tighten the breast skin envelope; therefore, some scarring is inevitable. For a standard lift, these scars run around the areola, along the fold under the breasts and a short vertical scar between these two areas. To make these scars as fine as possible, Dr. McMahan uses only buried sutures so that there are no stitch marks in the skin. Care of the incisions after surgery can also affect scarring. We recommend that patients tape over the scars for several months. The tape is more effective and much cheaper than commercial creams. There is no scientific evidence that coconut oil or vitamin E is effective at all in improving scars.
Loss of Sensation
Losing sensation of the nipples is very rare with a breast lift as these nerves tend to run deep in the breast tissue and are not generally at risk during a mastopexy. The skin on the lower aspect of the breasts does have reduced sensation for several months, however, the sensation typically returns to the majority of the skin. When breast implants are placed at the same time as a breast lift, the risk of permanent loss of sensation to one or both nipples is around 15%.
The risks of anesthesia should be discussed with your anesthesiologist prior to surgery. The risk of anesthesia problems is higher in smokers. Smoking also dramatically increases the risk of skin loss and significant scarring. You should not smoke or be around secondary smoke for at least 3-4 weeks before and after breast lift surgery.
One of the more serious risks of most surgeries is the formation of blood clots in the legs known as a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. To reduce the risk of DVT during breast lift surgery, sequential stockings are placed on the patient’s legs during surgery and in the recovery room. In addition, many surgeons will give the patient an injection of Heparin, a blood thinner right before surgery. This tends to lower the risk of blood clots while no affecting bleeding at the time of surgery. Patients are also encouraged to move their legs frequently and to walk for short periods of time starting the day of surgery.