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Most women will experience varying degrees of breast sagging and loss of firmness at some stage in their lives. The cause may be a tendency that one inherits. It may be due to pregnancy, alternate weight gain and loss, or simply be part of the normal ageing process. These progressive changes are normally noted between the ages of twenty to mid forties. The size of the breast in total volume may remain the same, but the firmness and erect position of youth are lost. The breasts have become pendulous, flattened and displaced to varying degrees, with loss of female contour.

Mastopexy is the surgical name for the operation that can restore the firmness of the breasts, and correct their position on the chest wall without increasing or decreasing their size. The operation involves a rearrangement of the soft tissues, shifting of the nipple position, and increasing firmness by tightening the skin covering. Position of the incisions can vary and this should be discussed with the surgeon. The incisions are intended to be as minimal and as concealed as possible. Nipple sensation usually returns to normal although there could be some numbness during the healing process. "Perfect" breasts are not a realistic expectation, but symmetry is the goal. The question of long term results with regard to scarring, nipple sensation, asymmetry and permanency of effect should be discussed with the surgeon.

The operation is performed under general anaesthesia and an overnight stay in the clinic is required. Stitch removal usually takes place at first post operative visit and patients may return to work within one to two weeks. Post-operative care instructions will be given by the surgeon and these must be carefully followed. This includes avoiding strenuous exercise, and being careful not to stretch the scars and skin. After the operation there will be some swelling and bruising and perhaps a sensation of skin tightness but these are temporary and only last a few days. With this operation there is a minimal risk of soft tissue loss, and the usual risks attached to any surgical procedure such as infection, bleeding, haematomas (blood collection under the skin) would apply. These risks are unlikely to occur, are usually not hazardous, can be treated by routine methods and would not affect ultimate results. They should be discussed fully, together with any other questions you may have, at consultation with the surgeon.

Mastopexy can be performed on its own or may be combined with breast augmentation which is the insertion of implants to achieve the desired result. An implant can add size and firmness. This is a decision you would ultimately make on your own after your consultation with the surgeon who can advise you on this point.

Mastopexy is an excellent surgical procedure. It produces rejuvenated breasts, which is the anatomical objective, but it must be remembered that the benefits extend way beyond this in terms of enhanced self-image and self-confidence. It has helped many women return to more youthful and feminine contours and thus makes a significant contribution to feelings of femininity and a general sense of well-being.