Breast Lift (Mastopexy) | Newport Beach | La Jolla, San Diego | Tim Sayed, MD, FACS

Breast Lift

Breast Lift San Diego, CA - Dr. Tim Sayed

Breast lift surgery is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the world, but it’s particularly popular among women of childbearing age. Some women have naturally drooping breasts, but many others develop descent (or, as it’s known in the medical world “ptosis,”) because of the effects one or more pregnancies. What typically happens is that women’s breast tissue expands in preparation for lactation, but once the lactation period is over, the breasts lose volume while retaining stretched, excess skin that can’t be tightened. Patients who have had previous breast augmentation with excessively large implants may also develop ptosis. Whether your ptosis is caused by genetics, large implants, or the effects of pregnancy, Dr. Sayed offers a variety of breast lift techniques to help you achieve perkier, younger looking breasts.

Finding the right technique will depend on a number of factors: scar preference, the volume of tissue, and patient expectations. However, treatment has some common components across patients:

  • Raising and repositioning the nipple
  • Restoring breast tissue to a higher, less descended location on the chest wall
  • Slightly reducing the volume and projection of the breast (this is one reason you may wish to combine a lift with implants)
  • Tightening and removing sagging, loose breast skin by placing an incision around the nipple, as well as possibly vertical and horizontal ones depending on the amount of skin excess
4 Common Causes of Sagging Breasts Dr. Tim Sayed

By working with Dr. Sayed, patients seeking breast lift surgery will be able to find the right technique that works with their unique needs. You and Dr. Sayed will work together to plan your procedure, and to help you visualize each result Dr. Sayed can simulate a variety of methods using Crisalix® software both with and without implants.


View real patient before & after results in our photo gallery.

before and after breast lift front view female patient case 1

Breast Lift 101

One way to know if you need a breast lift procedure is to perform the “pencil test,” which is essentially putting a pencil in the fold (breast crease) under the breast. If your breast falls over the pencil and holds it in place (or if you have to significantly pick up your breast to be able to set the pencil there), you most likely are a candidate for this procedure. This is an important part of determining whether you can achieve your cosmetic breast surgery goals with implants alone, a lift alone, or in combination.

In its most basic form, a breast lift will reposition the nipple by moving it with a column or mound of breast tissue that stays attached to the nipple (the nipple-areaola complex). In order to reposition the nipple, the surgeon must place an incision around the entire nipple-areola complex, then move it up and suture it in place.

There are multiple techniques that differentiate each lift procedure: the so-called periareolar or Benelli mastopexy involves tightening the breast by removing the skin around the nipple, resulting in an excision shaped like a donut (hence the name, the “donut lift”). This technique is appropriate for a modest lift. Patients needing more than a few centimeters of lifting require a vertical and/or horizontal scar as well (*shown with an asterisk in the second figure below).

Contact us today!

If you’re in the San Diego or Newport Beach areas and have any questions or wish to schedule a consultation on breast lifts with Dr. Sayed, please contact our office.

The Different Breast Lift Techniques

Your procedure defined by the type of incision created and how the breast tissue is altered. One such method is the Benelli breast lift, which removes excess skin around the nipple in a donut-like formation. Many of our patients like the Benellli technique because it allows Dr. Sayed to hide the incisions along the dark outline of the areola. Some surgeons have developed a kind of rule for determining if a Benelli lift is optimal: if the nipple is above the breast crease, then a Benelli breast lift might suffice.

Other techniques include the addition of a vertical incision (often called the “lollipop” lift), a horizontal incision along the breast crease, and a combination of all three. The type of incisions used will vary depending on the degree of breast sagging, but the general rule is that the larger the incisions, the greater degree of sagging can be corrected. The anchor incision, which a combination of an areolar, vertical, and horizontal incisions, is best used for severe cases of sagging.

Of course, the best way to find the appropriate technique for you is by having a consultation with Dr. Sayed.

Mastopexy Incisions, periareolar scar, vertical scar, horizontal scar
Breast Lift Pencil Test

FAQs About the Breast Lift La Jolla & Newport Beach

Some of our patients come into the consultation room expecting to have a consultation on breast augmentation only to find out that they have a large degree of sagging. For those patients, Dr. Sayed will highly recommend a breast lift alone or treatment in conjunction with implants. Some of our selection criteria to include you as a candidate for a lift include:

  • Minor to major descent (droopiness) to the breasts
  • Enough breast volume to maintain reasonable projection once lifted. If there is any question, we may suggest an implant to maintain or even increase your breast projection and volume after lifting.
  • General good health, meaning you do not have major uncorrected cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney diseases or other major organ conditions
  • If you are having simultaneous breast augmentation, you should be age 18 or older for saline implants, 22 or older for silicone (FDA recommendations)
  • No masses on breast examination – if you have a significant family history of breast cancer or are over 30 we will request a preoperative mammogram if you have not had one within a year
  • Nonsmoker or willing to commit to NO NICOTINE IN ANY FORM for at least 3 weeks preop and for the duration of your recovery
  • An available support system of friends, family, caregivers or others who can help you to keep your appointments, complete your preop and postop tasks, and emotionally bolster you through this exciting journey
  • Reasonable expectations of how much breast enhancement is possible with specific techniques

Most procedures are about one and a half to two hours in duration depending on the incision approach, size of the breasts, degree of asymmetry, and other considerations. If you are having breast augmentation combined with a lift, the operation may take up 3 hours. Other combinations are also possible, like augmentation combined with a and a tummy tuck (also known as a “mommy makeover,” or breast augmentation and liposuction). A breast reduction is similar to a breast lift but involves removing more tissue from the breast.

​Most breast lifts are performed on an outpatient basis in an AAAASF-certified operating room, meaning the facility is up to very high standards of accreditation. Patients usually spend up to a couple hours in the postoperative suite before being discharged in the care of a companion, family member, or friend. Dr. Sayed gives a 24-hour phone number to all patients so that they can reach him for urgent questions, and we also issue access to a patient engagement application that allows the patient or companion/caregiver to send SMS messages, photos, video and other content to our team in a secure, private digital format. This keeps us mutually informed on your recovery and allows us to update your instructions while allowing a respectful number of face-to-face visits in the office.

​Early on in your post-op recovery, you will experience some bruising and swelling, mild discomfort, the implants riding in a slightly high position (if you have augmentation with your breast lift), numbness or diminished sensation in nipples, and some mental adjustment to the process of healing—which is something patients commonly undergo after surgery. Most patients are advised to take a few days out of social circulation and we’d prefer that you not drive yourself in the first 10 days or as long as you are taking any prescription pain medication. Most sutures are dissolvable but there may be a few that need to be removed at around 14 days postop.

​We ask that you abstain from exercise for 2 weeks and then return to light fitness routines after that. You will be asked to wear a surgical bra and avoid underwires for a few weeks, and it will be easiest for you if you wear tops that button down in the front in the first 10 days or so. Dr. Sayed and his team provide close postop care in the office and with our remote engagement tools. You will be asked to take some supplement medications to aid in your recovery, which may include medications for pain, bruising, swelling, and dietary optimization.

This really depends on a few factors. These include the weight of the patient, size of the breasts, presence of implants, childbearing and breastfeeding status, general health, and other issues. If the patient has another child after their treatment, their results might change considerably. Use of proper support with well-fitted bras can help maintain breast shape and position. A certain amount of normal “bottoming out” can happen with breast lifts, but this usually maintains a reasonable natural position to the breast that is still pleasing.

  • Have a reasonable expectation of what surgery can accomplish
  • Look at before and after photos and understand what kinds of techniques you are interested in
  • Don’t smoke or take nicotine in any form for at least 3 weeks and ideally longer before (and after) surgery
  • Stay well rested and well hydrated and eat a nutritious diet balanced with plenty of protein
  • If your diet is lacking in vitamins, take vitamin C and zinc supplementation but ask Dr. Sayed about other supplements. We have a list of ingredients we ask you to avoid in the immediate preop phase to optimize healing and minimize bleeding risk
  • Designate a caretaker who can help you through the first 5 to 7 days 
  • Identify whether any female relatives in your immediate family have any history of breast cancer

These procedures differ not just by technique, but by their results; a breast augmentation is mainly for enhancing the volume of the breasts, while a breast lift is mainly for reshaping and repositioning the breasts. A lift can reposition the nipples and improve breast position, but it might actually decrease the volume slightly. On the other hand, breast augmentation can actually exacerbate a patient’s degree of sagging if the implants are too big or if their breasts are already sagging. For patients with comprehensive needs, Dr. Sayed recommends a breast lift with implants.

Any surgical procedure that involves the nipple areolar complex runs a risk of affecting nipple sensation, but the risk is extremely low: about 5-10%. This is why it’s important to choose a skilled, experienced surgeon like Dr. Sayed.

For the first six weeks of your breast lift recovery, your incisions will look red and lumpy. After that, it might form a ridge-like texture. After six months, your scar will start to mature, meaning it will gradually soften and even out in color. Darker-skinned patients can see the final results of their incisions after a year, while lighter-skinned patients might have to wait two years. While your scars might not disappear completely, they will fade until they’re not as prominent.

To help decrease the appearance of scarring, Dr. Sayed offers Embrace dressings, a silicone-based treatment that helps speed up healing and relieve tension on the skin. Once the wound has completely healed, you can undergo fractional laser therapy to soften the appearance of your breast lift scars.

Women of all ages can suffer from ptosis; younger women can suffer from sagging due to overly heavy breasts, while older women experience sagging breasts because of a decrease in skin elasticity or the effects of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Once a woman’s breasts have completely matured and stopped growing, it’s possible to get a breast lift.

Of course, pregnancy and breastfeeding can change your results, so it’s reasonable that you undergo your procedure once you’ve decided to stop having children.

On average, it will take around a year before your full results are visible.

While it’s perfectly safe to breastfeed after undergoing treatment, there is a small risk that a breast lift can affect your ability to produce milk. If this is an issue, you can discuss it in-depth with Dr. Sayed during your consultation.

Pricing is subject market changes and dependent on the types of procedures you consider. Review our Pricing page to build a “wishlist” and get estimated pricing on breast lift or a combination of procedures. We also have a fee schedule available in the office after your consultation. Feel free to contact our La Jolla office for a pre-consultation and we are happy to provide more information. The cost of your surgery will partly depend on where you have it and whether you are combining breast lift with a breast augmentation or other procedures.

Contact Us