- Not all breast lift procedures leave significant scarring
- Most breast lift scars are easy to hide
- There are things you can do to minimize scarring
CAN YOU AVOID SCARS AFTER BREAST LIFT PROCEDURES?In short, no. At least, not completely. Both breast lift and breast reduction procedures require incisions. When the incisions heal, scar tissue forms, creating a highlighted appearance on the skin—the scar. Should you be worried, though? There are several important things to keep in mind:
- Breast lift scars are really easy to hide. The scars will either appear as small incisions on top of your breast (if the vertical “lollipop” technique is chosen) or thin horizontal incisions. Either way, they’re really easy to cover with a bra or a swimsuit.
- Scars fade away with time. Even though the scarring is somewhat permanent, they do fade away with time. Usually, it takes about 1-2 years before the scar becomes barely noticeable. Do not panic if you see any scarring pictures that were taken right after the procedures—most breast lift patients are extremely happy with their appearance as time goes by.
- A lot depends on the scope of the procedure. How much visible scarring is going to remain after the procedure depends on a number of factors, including how much sagging is there, how elastic your skin, and the overall scope of the lift. The general rule of thumb is this: the smaller the procedure, the less noticeable the scars.
- There are things you can do to minimize scars. While we’ll cover this in-depth further in this article, keep in mind that there are preparation and recovery guidelines that can significantly impact how well you heal after your procedure, potentially minimizing the scarring.
- Good surgeons will provide the best “value-for-scar.” Every patient is different, and we celebrate that. Here at Aristocrat Plastic Surgery, we strive to hear every single patient and truly understand their appearance goals. Sometimes, patients who believe a breast lift would be the optimal procedure for them change their minds. Whatever the conclusion, we understand that significant scarring is an unacceptable outcome for most patients.
TYPES OF BREAST LIFT TECHNIQUES PERFORMEDThere are many different techniques that plastic and cosmetic surgeons employ to achieve the desired result. Each of these breast lift techniques are tailored to address specific problems; each of them leave different scars. Here are the most commonly used breast lift techniques in modern plastic surgery.
SCARLESS BREAST LIFT: A NON-INVASIVE OPTION FOR MINIMAL CORRECTIONSMain benefits and drawbacks:
- Scarless breast lifts leave no or minimal scars, but are only somewhat effective
- Scarless breast lifts can improve overall appearance only if you’re already satisfied with how your breasts look to an extent
- Scarless breast lifts can help you avoid recovery downtime, but you might not see significant improvement in your breast appearance
- The technique may provide good short-term results, but the skin is likely to stretch over time, returning to its original appearance
- The skin above the breast is tightened
- Fat cells underneath the skin are destroyed
- Have little sagginess in the breast area. Due to the way non-invasive breast lifts work, excess skin is not removed—instead, the skin is “tightened” using laser-powered technology, and some fat inside the breast is also destroyed permanently to create a tighter look.
- Have relatively proportional breasts. Non-invasive techniques struggle to create big makeovers. Therefore, they’re usually best for patients who are already somewhat happy with the way their breasts look, and are simply looking for minor adjustments.
- Are looking for minor corrections. Light breast lifts with no excess sagginess are best candidates for non-invasive lift techniques.
- Do not want to or cannot undergo a surgical procedure. Not everyone is a good candidate for invasive procedures. Some patients might have a medical history which can cause interactions with the anaesthesia. Others are at an increased risk of a post-surgical infection. Whatever the reason, invasive techniques are not for everyone.
- Prefer to minimize their recovery downtime. Invasive procedures are always followed by a period of recovery and partial immobilization. This means a recovery down-period, which you’ll mostly spend home. Even for the smallest breast lift procedures, you should plan at least 1 week off work, travel and active social events.
- Cannot afford to have any visible scars. Certain professional occupations—such as types of modeling and acting—might refrain patients from having any visible scars, steering them towards non-invasive alternatives. Other candidates may simply prefer the no-scarring option for their own personal sense of self-appeal.
CRESCENT BREAST LIFT: LIFT YOUR NIPPLE BY AN INCHCrescent breast lifts:
- Are only effective for smaller breasts with little sagginess
- Are used specifically to “relocate” the nipple
- Rule of thumb: if you want your nipple ±1 inch higher, crescent technique might be right for you
- Combined with breast augmentation. Due to its minimally-invasive nature, the crescent breast technique is often combined with breast augmentation procedures and performed during the same session.
- Small breasts. Since the crescent incision is very small, its transformational abilities are limited. However, patients with smaller breasts can still experience satisfactory results with this particular breast lift technique.
- Little overall sagginess. Some breasts develop in a way that while their “overall” saginess does not go overboard, the nipple is still eventually “driven” south on the breast surface. In these particular cases, crescent breast lift is the ideal procedure for the candidate.
- Nipple “droop.” Related to the previous point, some patients find their nipples drifting “downwards” on their breasts. In qualified hands, the crescent breast lift can help those patients restore their areola (nipple) area back to its “forward” position.
- Minimal sagging. Patients with significant sagging will find other breast lift alternatives much more useful, for several reasons:
- The procedure might achieve significant results. For larger, saggier breasts, the crescent breast lift technique may even be unable to achieve its primary purpose: to “relocate” the nipple.
- Other techniques will achieve a much better overall result. Patients with significant sagginess will simply find other procedures much more aligned with their goals and expectations.
“DONUT” (PERIAREOLAR) BREAST LIFT: ADDRESS MODERATE SAGGING WITH A SINGLE INCISIONWith donut breast lifts:
- Only 1 incision is made around the nipple
- These work best with small-medium sized breasts
- Optimal for patients with moderate sagging
- Have moderate sagging. To use the Regnault ptosis scale, most donut-breast-lift candidates will have Grade II breast sagging, defined as “The nipple is located below the inframammary fold [the place where the bottom of your breast skin meets the chest] but higher than most of the breast tissue hangs.”
- Do not mind the “around-the-nipple” scar. It is truly an individual preference for every patient. Below you’ll see pictures of what donut breast lift scars might look like. Every patient will have their own attitude towards this type of scarring—it is our job to inform all candidates of what they might expect.
- Do not want a highly invasive procedure. If, for any reason, the patient prefers a less invasive technique, periareolar (donut) is the way to go. Within the spectrum of breast lift techniques, donut procedures have the potential to deliver most significant results with minimum overall scarring.
- Have small-medium sized breasts. While the periareolar incision definitely offers more options for the surgeon, the technique is still most effective with small-to-medium sized breasts.
LOLLIPOP (VERTICAL) VS. ANCHOR LIFT: TWO INVASIVE, MAJOR BREAST LIFT TECHNIQUESFor patients with significant breast sagginess and medium-to-large breasts, two most commonly used techniques are lollipop and anchor lifts. Here are a few major differences between the two types of breast lifts:
- The lollipop technique only re quires two incisions, while the anchor technique requires three incisions
- The lollipop technique is less invasive than the anchor technique
- The lollipop lift produces less visible scarring than the anchor technique
- Patients with moderate-to-high sagging will likely suffice with the vertical lift, while patients with large-to-extreme sagging will go for the anchor lift
- Patients with small-to-moderate breasts will definitely be much better candidates for the lollipop lift rather than patients with large breasts, who are good candidates for the anchor lift
- Patients who prefer a quicker, smaller, less invasive procedure will choose the vertical lift over the anchor lift
- If most of the excess skin is located centrally (around the nipple), the donut incision might suffice in achieving expected results
- If the excess skin is to be removed horizontally (to the sides of the nipple), then the vertical (lollipop) incision will produce the most dramatic results
- If the excess skin spans in all directions, then the full anchor lift will be needed to achieve significant change
HOW TO RECOVER QUICKLY AND MINIMIZE SCARRINGLuckily, even if you go for the biggest, most incisive breast lift procedure, there are things you can do to heal properly and minimize scarring.
CHOOSE AN EXPERIENCED, QUALIFIED BOARD-CERTIFIED SURGEON YOU TRUSTWhile this goes without saying, choosing the right surgeon for the job is the most important factor in how well your scars will heal. The obvious reason is the knowledge and skill in the procedures. An experienced surgeon use a technique that will minimize the scarring and help you achieve the desired appearance. But there are other, more subtle differences between surgeons—ones that we don’t like to talk about often. Some practices will take on patients despite whether they’re a good candidate for the particular procedure or not—they will simply try to “sell” them the most expensive procedure, even at a cost of a possible complication or severe scarring. While not all of those types of surgeons are necessarily ill-minded, some will simply not have the “luxury” to say no to a patient—even if the procedure could clearly harm them. That is why we always suggest talking to at least several different plastic surgeons and evaluate their attitudes and level of commitment. Signs of a good plastic surgeon include:
- Genuine interest in your goals and expectations
- Thorough interest in your medical history
- Honest, critical opinion about what types of procedures would work best for you
- Transparency in talking about previous patient cases and experience
- Patience and calmness—avoid surgeons who seem overworked and in a rush