One of the most common complaints from our patients about their breasts is that they sag. Called ptosis in the medical world, sagging breasts can be caused by age, pregnancy and breastfeeding, significant changes in weight, or chest injury. A breast lift, medically known as a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that makes your breasts look younger by tightening and lifting sagging breast tissue.

How long does a breast lift last?

A breast lift surgery can instantly give you a more youthful silhouette, but it can’t halt the aging process that contributes to sagging.

How long a breast lift will “last” differs for each person. Your general health, skincare routine, and genetic makeup all play a significant role in how your skin and tissue age. If your weight fluctuates dramatically, the effect of your breast lift will not last as long as someone who maintains a relatively stable weight. Pregnancy and breastfeeding will similarly shorten the life of your lift.

While some patients remain satisfied with their breast lift for the rest of their lives, some choose to have the procedure redone (with or without an accompanying augmentation or reduction) in 10–15 years after their first one.

What is a breast lift?

A breast lift changes your bust line by removing excess skin, repositioning breast tissue higher on your chest wall, and reshaping your breast mass. Lifting will change the position of your breast, but won’t alter the size of your breast. If you’re satisfied with your cup size, a lift may be all you need to feel brand new.

If, however, your breasts look deflated due to aging, breastfeeding, or a significant weight loss, you may want to add a breast augmentation to your mastopexy. A breast augmentation will add fullness and firmness by using implants (silicone or saline) or a fat transfer to add volume to your lifted breasts.

In contrast, if your ptosis is the result of large, heavy breasts losing their fight against gravity, you may be a good candidate for a breast lift combined with a breast reduction. A reduction is similar to a lift in that breast skin and tissue are removed, but instead of only removing what is necessary to reposition your breasts, your surgeon will remove enough skin and tissue to resize them as well. Skin and tissue can also be manipulated and moved to make sure your breasts are even and full.

Breast lift recovery

A mastopexy is an outpatient procedure that is performed under general anesthesia.

Recovery time for breast lift procedures depends on a number of factors, especially if you are having other procedures done at the same time. But in general, most patients are able to go back to work/resume daily activities within a week of their surgery. After two weeks, the stiffness, soreness, and swelling that accompanies surgery will likely be significantly reduced. It’s important to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for four to six weeks. While this may feel long, allowing your internal incisions to heal and your tissue to settle is critical to achieving the best possible result.

What can I do to make a breast lift last longer?

While your bust line will continue to change as you age, there are several things you can do to preserve the result of your mastopexy for as long as possible. If you do the following, you’re likely to have long-lasting results:

  • Take care of your skin

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle

  • Wear proper support

Take care of your skin

You’re probably very careful with the skin on your face. You use good cleansers, moisturize regularly, and wear sunscreen.

Do you take care of the skin on the rest of your body as well?

If you’re like most people, your answer will probably be no.

The skin on your chest may not be as exposed as the skin on your face, but there are still things you can do to keep it at its best. You should always wear sunscreen or SPF-clothing to protect your skin from the damaging, aging effects of the sun. Additionally, moisturizers and supplements with collagen and vitamin C and E give your skin the building blocks it needs to maintain collagen and elastin production.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Eating a well-balanced diet, keeping yourself hydrated, and exercising help you avoid the dramatic fluctuations in weight that can stretch your skin and cause it to sag, but that’s not all they can do to help your skin.

Exercise increases your blood flow. Since blood moves oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and carries toxins and waste products away from cells to the liver, regular exercise provides the same effect to the inner layers of your skin as washing your face does for the outer.

Similarly, what you eat can help you maintain luminous, resilient skin. Foods that have vitamin A, C, and E, like fruits and vegetables, are loaded with antioxidants that help even out your skin tone, reduce dryness, and keep your skin strong.

Wear enough support

It’s a common joke among women that the first thing they do when they come home is take off their “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder”. While definitely more comfortable than its predecessor the corset, women have been complaining about the digging, squeezing, slipping, and sweating that comes with wearing a bra since mass production began in the 1930s.

But the truth is that wearing a properly fitted bra will absolutely help maintain your breast lift results and can be comfortable at the same time. For women who are athletes or live very active lifestyles that submit their breast tissue to high-impact movements, this is especially true.

Choosing the right plastic surgeon

A breast lift requires both technical and artistic skill, as well as a totally individualized treatment plan that takes your genetics, desires, and body into account. Your surgeon should work with you to make sure you understand the procedure/risks fully and have realistic expectations.

You should also be comfortable with your surgeon and their team. This means looking for a surgeon whose reputation is based on their bedside manner and surgical experience.

The best choice is always to use a surgeon who is board-certified – and not just by any board. A surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery has had six years of robust plastic and reconstructive surgery training. The ABPS website allows you to search their database to see if your surgeon has this top credential.

Finally, make sure your physician has extensive before-and-after photo galleries. It could be online or in their office, based on the privacy preferences of their patients, but you shouldn’t agree to let someone change your body without knowing they can deliver.


Dr. Daniel Y. Maman is recognized as one of the top plastic surgeons in both New York City and the US. He is a Harvard fellowship-trained Board Certified plastic surgeon who completed post-doctoral training at the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital. He is sought out for his thoughtful, conscientious bedside manner as much as for his superior technical skill.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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