Due to an exceptionally high rate of patient satisfaction, breast lift surgery continues to be one of the most popular plastic surgical procedures performed each year in the United States. The techniques utilized today can create beautiful, natural-looking results that not only enhance a woman’s figure, but also her confidence and self-esteem. When seeking a breast lift, it is critical that you consult with an experienced plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, such as Dr. Stephen M. Herring. Doing so can help ensure you receive ethical guidance, personalized care, and, ultimately, an excellent outcome.

Breast Lift Quick Facts

Elevate and recontour the breasts for an improved shape and position on the chest
Usually 2 hours
General or local with sedation
Typically outpatient
Side Effects
Temporary bruising, swelling, and soreness; possible changes in nipple sensation
Return to non-strenuous work within a few days; resume all activities after 3–4 weeks; scarring should fade over several months to a year, possibly longer
Duration of Results

What Is a Breast Lift?

Breast lift surgery—which is medically referred to as mastopexy—is a procedure that restores sagging breasts to a more youthful position and shape. The natural contour of the breast changes with aging, pregnancy, and weight loss to become flat and tubular rather than cone-shaped. Over time, the breast gland gets smaller, which causes the skin envelope to be too large for the gland. During pregnancy, the breasts become engorged, which stretches the skin and gland. After breastfeeding is stopped, the breast shrinks, leaving too much skin. Weight gain followed by weight loss also creates a situation where there is extra skin, which results in breast sagging (ptosis). Patients with a large amount of ptosis sometimes have skin irritations under the breasts and problems wearing certain types of clothing.

Mastopexy helps women resolve these issues by removing excess breast skin and elevating the internal architecture of the breast, including the breast gland, ligaments, and remaining skin. Many patients have asymmetry in the nipple-areolar complexes, and this is usually improved with the procedure, as well.

Goals of Breast Lift Surgery

  • Raise the position of the breasts on the chest wall to correct ptosis
  • Create beautiful, natural curves that are present without the support of a bra
  • Enhance the symmetry of the breasts and nipple-areolar complexes
  • Allow patients to wear clothing or undergarments that have less support
  • Improve self-image and confidence

Dr. Herring has over three decades of breast lift surgery experience, during which time he has helped numerous women from throughout North Carolina and beyond achieve their goals with exceptional results. If you are considering mastopexy, he would be honored to assist you in attaining the look you desire through a completely personalized treatment plan.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?

While the choice to receive a breast lift is ultimately a personal decision unique to every individual, some of the most common reasons women seek mastopexy include the desire to:

  • Resolve excessive sagging of the breasts
  • Elevate the position and projection of the breasts
  • Correct breast asymmetry and misshapen breasts
  • Restore the breasts to their pre-pregnancy and/or pre-weight loss appearance
  • Achieve a rejuvenated overall breast aesthetic

Throughout his years in practice, Dr. Herring has heard many women make the following comments in regard to why they werepursuing breast lift surgery:

  • “I want to look better in clothes.”
  • “I want to look better in a bathing suit.”
  • “I want to be able to wear some tops and dresses without a bra.”
  • “I want to restore a more youthful breast appearance.”
  • “I want to be more confident in myself.”

It should also be noted that to be a candidate for breast lift surgery, you will need to be in good overall health and have realistic expectations for what can and cannot be achieved. For example, a breast lift alone will not increase breast volume, so if a larger breast size is desired in addition to breast lifting and reshaping, mastopexy combined with a breast augmentation may be more suitable.

At the time of your consultation, Dr. Herring will perform an extensive evaluation, outline what you can expect based on your needs and goals, answer any questions you have, and help you make the best, most informed decision about your care.

What Does the Breast Lift Procedure Entail?

There are many different types of breast lift procedures, and the best technique for your specific situation will be decided by you and Dr. Herring based on the degree of breast drooping present and extent of tissue contouring needed to achieve an ideal outcome. The three most commonly utilized mastopexy incision options are:

Periareolar Incision

Generally reserved for very minor breast sagging, this incision is solely made around the outer edge of the areola.

Lollipop (Vertical) Incision

Typically utilized for mild to moderate ptosis, this incision extends around the areola and then vertically down the breast to the inframammary fold.

Anchor-Shaped (Inverted “T”) Incision

Usually employed to treat significant breast drooping, this incision encircles the areola, extends vertically down the breast, and continues horizontally along the inframammary crease.

Using one of these incision patterns during surgery, Dr. Herring will remove excess skin, raise the breasts on the chest wall, and recontour tissue until an optimal shape, position, and projection is achieved. If necessary, he may also re-size and/or reshape the nipple-areolar complexes to create a more natural, proportionate appearance.

The breast lift procedure takes about two hours to complete for most patients. Generally performed as an outpatient procedure, the majority of women are able to return home later the same day under the care and supervision of a friend or family member.

I had a breast lift with implants done in El Paso, TX in 2011. Over time, one of the implants shifted leaving me with a lopsided appearance. I came to see Dr. Herring for a consult. He was extremely thorough in explaining the options to me, and never once made me feel pressured to choose having a procedure over doing nothing at all. I have been so impressed with the continued professionalism


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Can I Combine a Breast Lift with Other Procedures?

It is very common for patients to combine mastopexy with additional cosmetic treatments. In particular, many patients choose to undergo an augmentation-mastopexy, which involves the addition of implants into breast lift surgery. In addition, mastopexy is often incorporated into the mommy makeover procedure, which was designed to address concerns faced by many women who have had children. These issues are not limited to breast sagging, excess abdominal skin, and isolated fat pockets. Some procedures frequently performed as part of a mommy makeover include tummy tuck surgery, liposuction, arm lift, and thigh lift.

If you are interested in combining your breast lift with an additional breast, body, or facial surgery, Dr. Herring can determine your eligibility after an initial consultation. 

What Can I Expect During Recovery from a Breast Lift?

The recovery period after breast lift surgery is usually very short—most women can go back to work in one or two days following mastopexy, as long as heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity is not required. After about three to four weeks, patients are usually able to return to full activity without any limitations.

While there is typically little discomfort after breast lift surgery (most patients report any pain experienced as approximately a “one” or “two” out of 10, with 10 being the most severe), Dr. Herring will follow you closely through your post-operative healing to ensure your comfort is well-managed. This includes making sure you have the appropriate type and quantity of pain medication until any potential discomfort has fully resolved.

Swelling, bruising, and tenderness are common to some extent, though these symptoms should fade with time. Feeling in the breasts (including the nipples) may be slightly unusual initially, but normal breast sensation returns after several weeks for most patients.

Will I Have Breast Lift Scars?

Because breast lift surgery involves incisions, some degree of scarring is an inevitable aspect of treatment. Fortunately, all mastopexy scar patterns utilized by Dr. Herring can be concealed under a wide assortment of blouse, bra, and swimsuit varieties—including most bikini tops. During your recovery, you will be instructed on how to properly care for your healing incisions to help reduce the final appearance of scarring. When postoperative directions are followed closely, Dr. Herring’s breast lift patients rarely have any concerns about their scars, often reporting that the physical and emotional benefits of treatment are well worth it.

How Long Does a Breast Lift Last?

A breast lift is long-lasting in the sense that the breasts will virtually always look better than they would if surgery had never been performed. That said, mastopexy does not prevent the aging process from progressing. As aging continues, the breasts will continue to lose elasticity, and sagging can recur. If the breast sagging increases significantly enough, a patient may decide to get another breast lift (mastopexy revision) at some point down the road. However, there is no exact time a second breast lift is recommended, and if the breasts are not affected by weight loss or pregnancy after the initial surgery, they will maintain a good shape for many years to come.

How Much Does Breast Lift Cost?

On average, the price of breast lift surgery at Herring Plastic Surgery starts at $7,200, which includes the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia costs, surgical center expenses, and prescription medications. Dr. Herring is able to offer mastopexy at such a competitive rate because he performs the procedure in our on-site, accredited surgical facility that meets hospital-grade safety standards while providing patients with convenience and added privacy.

To obtain a personalized quote for breast lift surgery, you will need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Herring. During this appointment, he can review your unique case and provide a cost based on the specifics of your personalized treatment plan. If interested, a member of our team will also happily introduce you to plastic surgery financing options that can help make mastopexy affordable for almost any budget.

Additional Frequently Asked Breast Lift Questions

Will insurance cover breast lift surgery?

Breast lift surgery is typically considered an elective cosmetic procedure; therefore, most insurance companies will not cover the expense of treatment. We still encourage our patients to contact their insurance provider to gather more details about their unique healthcare plan and find out if any coverage is possible. For any out-of-pocket costs, our practice accepts a variety of payment methods and partners with a reputable lending agency, CareCredit®, to help make the cost of breast lift surgery more affordable for qualified patients.

Can I still breastfeed after a breast lift?

If you plan on breastfeeding in the future, make sure to communicate your needs with Dr. Herring before undergoing breast lift surgery. Dr. Herring can customize a surgical plan that utilizes specific techniques and incision locations to help preserve the function of the milk ducts and surrounding structures as much as possible. Women who were able to breastfeed before treatment usually have no problem with breastfeeding after surgery; however, it is important to keep in mind that not all women can successfully breastfeed even before mastopexy due to a variety of factors, such as anatomy, trauma, etc. In addition, pregnancy and nursing can diminish the results of breast lift surgery. For this reason, Dr. Herring usually advises patients to postpone breast lift surgery until after all plans of childbearing and/or breastfeeding are complete.

Can I get a breast lift without surgery?

Unfortunately, there is no other method of achieving the same effective results of mastopexy without surgery. Some articles may suggest different exercises that help strengthen the pectoral muscles for a “natural lift,” but these efforts do not successfully address concerns related to lax or excess skin. Unlike many non-surgical techniques, breast lift surgery can deliver optimal, long-lasting results by elevating the position of the breasts on the chest wall while improving the overall shape and symmetry of the breasts.

How do I choose the right breast lift surgeon?

As mastopexy is a major life decision, there are many important factors to consider when pursuing a provider for this surgery. Firstly, it is imperative that you choose a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which signifies that a physician has undergone years of specialized training in cosmetic enhancement and continually performs to the highest standards of care. It is also essential that your surgeon has extensive experience in mastopexy and other aesthetic surgeries in which you may be interested. Finally, the ideal surgeon will make you feel welcome in his or her presence and should transparently answer any questions you may have in order to forge a sturdy doctor-patient relationship.

Rest assured that Dr. Herring, who has been performing breast surgeries for over 30 years, values patient comfort and satisfaction above all else. He is committed to providing a safe, warm environment for you throughout your experience at our practice.

How can I reduce swelling after a breast lift?

It is not uncommon for patients to experience some degree of swelling after breast lift surgery. Generally speaking, however, wearing prescribed post-operative garments and keeping the upper body slightly elevated as often as possible—even while sleeping—can help diminish initial swelling. In addition, avoiding alcohol and not smoking can help control swelling, as can eating more anti-inflammatory foods (e.g., citrus fruits and leafy greens) and less salty foods. It is typically also a good idea to take occasional light walks and get plenty of rest to facilitate the healing process.

What type of bra should I wear after breast lift surgery?

There are a variety of different bra styles that can be worn following breast lift surgery, all of which Dr. Herring will cover during your consultation based on your specific anatomy. In general, however, he typically recommends avoiding bras that contain an underwire for a minimum of eight weeks after surgery. During this time, a soft support bra with thick straps and clasps that open in the front can be an ideal and comfortable option for many women. Even after the breasts fully heal, Dr. Herring highly suggests regularly wearing a supportive bra to help slow the gradual effects of gravity and the natural aging process.

How is breast lift surgery different from breast reduction?

Breast lift and breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty) are very similar procedures. In a breast lift, the native breast tissue is preserved as much as possible, and the primary goal is lifting the breast. In a breast reduction, the primary goal is to reduce the size of the breast. The breast is also lifted with the breast reduction after excess tissue is removed. In the breast lift, a small amount of tissue is removed, and in the breast reduction a larger amount of tissue is removed.

Can mastopexy be done at the same time as other procedures?

Yes. Breast lift surgery is commonly combined with other procedures. For example, a breast lift can be done at the same time as a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) in most patients, if indicated and desired. Many of Dr. Herring’s patients will choose to have additional procedures at the time they get a breast lift.

Will I need breast implants with my breast lift?

While a breast lift performed on its own typically does not include breast implants, patients frequently choose to incorporate implants into their breast surgery. The addition of implants to breast lift surgery can simultaneously reduce ptosis and add volume to the breasts, often making for a fuller yet more supported bustline. Dr. Herring can help you determine whether breast implants are necessary for achieving your aesthetic goals during an initial consultation.

What anesthesia is used for breast lift surgery?

There are two different types of anesthesia that are routinely used for mastopexy. A breast lift can be performed using intravenous sedation, which is administered by an anesthesia professional. Local anesthesia can also be used in addition to intravenous sedation. The recovery from this type of anesthesia takes only a few minutes, and the side effects of the medicine are usually minimal. This combination gives patients complete comfort for the breast lift, and the local anesthesia can also help alleviate pain after the procedure.

General anesthesia is another technique sometimes used for breast lift surgery. While this is an acceptable anesthesia technique for mastopexy, many surgeons prefer to use intravenous sedation and local anesthesia.

The type of anesthesia used is dictated by the patient’s individual situation, and somewhat dictated by her preference.

Is the breast lift procedure painful?

Most breast lift patients have very little discomfort after surgery and take prescription pain medicine for only a few days. Dr. Herring is very cognizant of the needs of his patients during the postoperative pain period, and he will do what he can to ensure this time is as comfortable as possible.

Can I get a mammogram after a breast lift?

Yes. You should ask your primary care physician(s) (Family Practice, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Internal Medicine) about mammograms. It is usually safe to get a mammogram about three or four months after a breast lift.

Is a mammogram indicated before my breast lift?

In general, primary care providers recommend and order mammograms. If your provider feels that you should have a mammogram before surgery, then it should be considered.

What is the best age to get a breast lift?

There is no specific age to get a breast lift. The amount of sagging and goals of the patient are the most important factors in choosing to get a breast lift.

Can I prevent my breasts from sagging in the future?

Breast lift surgery can significantly reduce ptosis; however, it cannot stop the natural course of aging. Weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and childbirth are also liable to contribute to breast sagging after mastopexy has been performed. As such, Dr. Herring advises patients to maintain a consistent, healthy weight following breast lift surgery. Additionally, he typically encourages patients to pursue breast lift surgery after they have finished having children.

Are there any notable breast lift risks or complications?

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential side effects, risks, and possible complications. By seeking out an experienced, board-certified, and highly-trained plastic surgeon such as Dr. Herring, any potential risks can be mitigated and reduced. For breast lift surgery, there are potential risks of having a negative reaction to anesthesia, swelling, discomfort, pain, infection, poor scarring, or, in much rarer cases, losing sensation in the nipples. The majority of side effects that occur after the procedure typically dissipate within a few weeks or months. With all treatments, Dr. Herring prioritizes the health and safety of patients.

Will I lose sensation in my nipple after a breast lift?

Immediately following breast lift surgery, it is common for patients to notice numbness or loss of feeling in the nipples. While this sensation typically only lasts a few weeks or months, certain women will permanently lose feeling in their nipples. Please keep in mind that this phenomenon is extremely rare – especially when the mastopexy is performed by an experienced breast surgeon like Dr. Herring. He only uses the most advanced and safest techniques when performing breast lift surgery to help minimize any risks or complications.

How soon can I bathe after breast lift surgery?

Patients are typically directed to avoid tub baths for about six to eight weeks after surgery. Soaking the incisions in a tub bath before they are fully healed can increase the risk of infection. Patients can, however, shower after the first 48 hours. Dr. Herring will give clear post-surgical instructions that include details on bathing and showering after the breast lift procedure. We advise following his recommendations closely to ensure proper healing.

Should I wait until after having children to get a breast lift?

Our surgeons typically recommend that patients receive a breast lift only after they are done having children. The primary reason for this recommendation is that the effects of childbirth and nursing can counteract the results of a breast lift. Oftentimes, patients will seek out a breast lift procedure due to the changes in the body that occur after giving birth and breastfeeding. Having children after receiving a breast lift could be counterproductive to the results, so it is often best for women to undergo breast lift surgery after completing their family.

How do I choose a breast lift surgeon?

Choosing the right breast lift surgeon is key to receiving the best and most optimal results. Patients should look at a surgeon’s education and credentials, making sure that they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This ensures that the surgeon has received extensive training and has the necessary experience to perform cosmetic surgeries. It can also be beneficial to look at patient testimonials, reviews, and breast lift before-and-after photos to get an idea of what to expect from the procedure. Patients should also make sure that they are comfortable and confident in the care of their plastic surgeon, which is why scheduling a face-to-face consultation can be really helpful. At an in-person consultation, patients can get a better sense of the surgeon’s personality and how knowledgeable they are about the breast lift procedure.

Contact Herring Plastic Surgery

If you have additional questions about breast lift surgery, or if you are interested in treatment and wish to schedule a consultation with Dr. Herring, please feel free to contact our practice today. We look forward to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals!