Breast Lifts


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Duke Health plastic surgeons perform breast lifts to regain a more youthful, firm breast shape. Breast lifts (mastopexy) are typically recommended if you have drooping or sagging breasts that have lost their shape. This can occur after pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, weight changes, aging, and gravity. Breast lifts can also reduce the size of enlarged areolas. 

Your plastic surgeon may recommend combining a breast lift with other forms of breast augmentation if you desire a fuller, enlarged breast shape. A breast lift can also be combined with breast reduction. Breast lifts can improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.

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Candidates for Breast Lift Surgery

You may be a candidate if you are healthy, don’t smoke, have sagging breasts or one breast lower than the other, or if your nipple sits lower on your breast. It is best performed after you have completed your childbearing. People with smaller breasts will benefit from a different approach than people with large, heavy breasts. 

Find a Plastic Surgeon 
To ensure you experience the best results, choose one of our board-certified or board-eligible plastic surgeons. They are specially trained and have the necessary experience in performing breast surgery.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Pros and Cons of Breast Lifts

Benefits of Breast Lift Surgery

  • Improved breast and nipple appearance.
  • Can reposition the nipple and areola to enhance the new breast appearance.
  • Can be combined with other cosmetic and breast procedures to achieve your desired result. 
  • Reduces under-breast irritation.

Disadvantages/Risks of Breast Lift Surgery
As with all surgeries, there is a risk of bleeding and infection following the procedure. Breast lift surgery also carries the following risks: 

  • Surgery will result in scars, but they can normally be hidden in a bra or bathing suit. 
  • You may experience changes in nipple and/or skin sensation. 
  • In rare cases, blood supply to the nipples may be lost, which may result in the loss of nipples or areola. This is called nipple necrosis. An additional procedure may be required to correct this condition. 
  • Breast lifts can improve symmetry in breasts that were uneven before the surgery but it is never certain that you will be perfect even after surgery. 
  • Trouble breastfeeding.
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Consultation and Pre-Surgical Testing

What to Expect at Your First Consultation
When meeting for the first time, your plastic surgeon will discuss your reasons for pursuing a breast lift, your desired outcome, and the expected results. We take time to understand your breast anatomy, skin elasticity, and body type. We conduct a thorough medical history, including your family history, general health status, previous operations, and any medications you may be taking. We examine your breasts and take measurements of their size, shape, the placement of your nipples and areolas. Photographs will be taken for your medical record. 

Personalized Treatment Recommendations
We complete the consultation with a personalized treatment recommendation that addresses the type of breast lift that is right for you depending on your goals and your anatomy. It will be customized to the shape and size of your breasts. We also discuss the potential risks, complications, and recovery. 

Breast Lift Cost 
Breast lifts for cosmetic reasons is an elective, procedure for healthy people that is not covered by insurance. The cost depends on how many and which procedures you need to achieve your goals. Your financial counselor will help you understand your financial responsibility.

Pre-Surgical Testing
To ensure you are in optimal health for surgery, blood work will test your liver and kidney function and will determine if you have any infection, blood disorder, or anemia, that may have gone previously undetected. A mammogram may be recommended to detect underlying breast abnormalities.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Breast Lift Surgery and Recovery

Breast Lift Surgery
During surgery, excess skin is removed, the remaining skin is tightened, and the breast mound is reshaped. The nipple is then repositioned higher on the chest wall. This procedure may be performed at the time of augmentation or in a separately scheduled procedure. 

Breast Lift Is an Outpatient Procedure 
Breast lift surgery takes about two to three hours, depending on whether additional procedures are involved. It is usually performed in one of the modern surgical suites at our accredited outpatient surgical centers. General anesthesia will be administered by our board-certified anesthesia team. 

Recovering from Breast Lift Surgery
You will need at least three days of rest following the procedure. You can return to work in about one week, but it will take several weeks, perhaps up to one month for the swelling and soreness to subside. As your body heals, it is common to feel tightness in your chest. It is also common to experience less sensation in your breasts and nipples immediately following surgery. 

A supportive, post-surgical bra will help your breasts maintain position during recovery. 

You should be able to return to all normal activities, including exercise and heavy lifting, about six weeks after surgery.

This page was medically reviewed on 02/09/2024 by