The breasts are not immune to the hands of time, which is why many women choose to have a breast lift at some point. This procedure can give your bust a far more youthful appearance, restoring sagging, unshapely breasts to a more desirable position. At the offices of Eric P. Bachelor, MD, FACS in Pleasanton and Danville, CA, we can help guide you through this surgery to speed up recovery and deliver pleasing, personalized results.
What Is the Best Age for Getting a Breast Lift?
We want to start by saying the right age is any age, within a few parameters. First, you shouldn’t choose this procedure until your breasts are completely developed. This happens for some women in their teens but continues into the early twenties for other women. This is an important consideration for patients under 25.
Second, if you plan to undergo weight loss or are now losing weight, you should delay this procedure until your weight is stable. Significant weight loss or gain can influence breast shape and alter your results. It is for this reason that we recommend all patients be at their ideal weight before surgery. The same is true of breastfeeding; if you’re still nursing, you should wait until you’re finished before having this procedure.
Age Group 18 to 25
Common causes of breast sagging include:
- Weight fluctuations, whether caused by pregnancy or diet
- Natural aging as tissues lose their strength and elasticity
- Lifestyle factors like smoking and sun damage
We want to focus on this last factor because it’s the most common reason women in this age group have a breast lift (mastopexy). Your genes help dictate traits like breast size, tissue density, and skin elasticity, all of which contribute to sagging. Some young women thus have downward-pointing nipples or elongated breasts that make them feel self-conscious. These patients are strong candidates for surgery and can benefit from its transformative effects.
Age Group 26 to 35
In 1970, the average age at which women started having children was 24. Today, that age has leaped to 28, meaning an increasing number of females are still giving birth in their thirties. In terms of breast health, sagging usually starts after pregnancy, although nursing is not a factor, as breasts change in size in preparation for breastfeeding.
Data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons states 34 is the median age when women choose to have a mastopexy. This makes sense, given that women are now waiting longer to have children. And this changes the point at which their breasts begin to dramatically change.
Ensuring the Best Results
This brings us to a consideration for your own procedure: you can ensure the best and longest-lasting results by undergoing a mastopexy after you’ve had children. It’s possible pregnancy will alter your results, although we can’t say this definitively because every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. The point is that waiting will help you enjoy your perkier bust well into the future.
Age Group 36 to 45
Many women believe that not wearing a bra contributes to breast sagging, but this simply isn’t the case. The foremost culprit is a loss of collagen throughout the body. This protein supports skin from underneath and, as production slows with time, skin loses its overall integrity. By the age of 36, you can lose up to 11 percent of your natural collagen levels. And the breasts, unfortunately, are not immune from such effects.
It’s important to remember the breasts themselves do not contain muscles and therefore have little natural support. This is why busts of all sizes, even those that are smaller, experience sagging. Women in this age group are also likely to start exploring other cosmetic therapies, such as neck rejuvenation, laser resurfacing, and dermal fillers.
Age Group 46 to 50
Many women wait until their late 40s to have mastopexy because they finally have time to think about themselves. Their children are often older, their careers are more settled, and they can commit to the time necessary for a full recovery. And because the results can last many years, it’s unlikely at this point that a woman would need a second procedure.
Women over 45 differ from their younger counterparts in terms of aesthetic goals. A woman in her 20s or 30s might seek a mastopexy because she wants to look like a TV or social media celebrity. But an older woman usually wants to lose the top-heavy look she fears her breasts are giving and attain a more youthful profile.
Over Age 50
Where women over the age of 50 were once dismissed as “too old,” we now know that’s hardly the case. People collectively are living longer than ever before, and women over 50 continue to be major players in the workforce, have likely fulfilled their family obligations, and want to keep looking as young and vibrant as they feel.
Women in this group usually complain of sagging and volume loss that, depending on the patient’s specific treatment goals, can be corrected with a breast lift and augmentation combo. Breast reductions are equally popular for women in this group. The goal of these procedures is to restore a sense of proportion with the rest of the body.
While age may factor into your candidacy for a mastopexy, we’ll also assess your overall health. We will, for instance, use a consultation appointment to ask questions about your:
- Use of nicotine and/or tobacco
- Health history, including previous surgeries
- Current and future weight goals
- Daily medications
- Family history of cancer and other diseases
The Skin of Your Breasts
Regardless of age, many women choose a mastopexy because the skin over and near their breasts is stretched. We remove excess skin during this procedure and tighten that which remains. This is just one of the ways in which surgery can be beneficial. Additional concerns mastopexy can address include:
- Elevating the nipple and areola
- Lifting the breasts so they sit higher
- Improving overall shape
- Restoring a more youthful silhouette
Improved Breast Symmetry
One benefit we didn’t mention in our list above is that of improved breast symmetry. Although most breasts are naturally slightly uneven – meaning no two are exactly alike – we can improve upon this so your breasts look more shapely and symmetrical.
Every Procedure Is Unique
This is where we caution against comparing your bust to that of another woman. In other words, the lift or cleavage achieved by someone else may not be possible for you. This comes down to unique body structures; all breasts have their own characteristics, including shape and structure, so we’ll work with your body rather than a celebrity photo to deliver proportionate results.
What You Need to Know
Patients often confuse a breast lift with a breast augmentation, but the two are very distinct procedures. The latter adds more volume to increase your overall breast size; the former reshapes and lifts your breasts so they look perkier. You can tell you need a mastopexy by examining your breasts. If they look pendulous or flattened, a lift can correct both so breasts sit higher and look rounder. Keep in mind, however, there is no perfect bust shape or size.
A mastopexy can also correct nipples and areolas that point down rather than forward or up. Skin that stretches with age can pull both down so the breast’s entire projection changes. Mastopexy corrects this by repositioning tissues. Additional concerns that can be corrected with this surgery, as opposed to augmentation, include:
- Nipples that sit below the breast’s natural crease, even if they don’t point downward
- Enlarged areolas
- Sagging that makes you feel self-conscious about your entire body
The Ins and Outs of Recovery
Right after surgery, your breasts may look and feel larger than you expected. This is a normal effect of surgery and will subside. Even if you didn’t combine mastopexy with a breast augmentation, your breasts may appear larger, but they won’t stay that way. As you continue to heal, your bust size will also change.
On that note, we should mention that every woman heals in her own unique way. The average recovery time after this surgery is about six weeks, but that’s not a hard and fast milestone. While you may feel like yourself after just a week, your body will need more time to fully heal. You’ll also need to care for your breasts throughout this process in a way that may feel unfamiliar. For instance, you won’t be able to wear an underwire bra until we provide clearance.
A Few More Guidelines
You can generally plan on returning to work after three to seven days, as long as your job doesn’t involve demanding physical activity. But heavy lifting and strenuous activity will need to be avoided for two to three weeks. This includes upper arm movements, like lifting grocery bags and your kids and engaging in sexual activity. Exercise like running and biking is also prohibited for about six weeks.
You can and should, however, walk right after the operation to keep your body moving and encourage healthy blood flow. At two weeks, if you’re healing appropriately, we may approve light lifting. Pulling, pushing, and heavy lifting will remain off the table until we give the go-ahead. And if you don’t remember all of this information right now, don’t worry. We’ll give you a list of guidelines to follow once you’re out of surgery.
Comfort Is Key After Surgery
Your body will need to stay comfortable after surgery, and this extends to the kind of bra you wear. We’ll recommend either a compression garment or support bra, both of which will promote healing. You’ll likely need a bigger size than normal right after surgery, so don’t plan on buying a lot of these garments until after you’re healed.
Eat a Healthy Diet
You may not think so, but healthy foods will help you recover more quickly. Your body needs certain nutrients for healing, especially vitamin K. Protein likewise helps repair damaged tissues, and vitamin C helps the body form new collagen. Water is also essential, as it’s a major component of blood and helps transport nutrients to cells. Dehydration, on the other hand, impairs wound healing and interrupts cell function.
Now Is the Time
If you’ve been thinking about a breast lift but have wondered when the right time is for surgery, we can confidently say it’s now. Age is only one consideration; the greatest factors are how you feel about your body and the ways in which surgery can improve both your profile and confidence. Call the offices of Eric P. Bachelor, MD, FACS, in Pleasanton and Danville, CA, today to schedule your consultation.