Breast Lift after Weight Loss

March 29, 2015

When it comes to weight loss, the first areas of the body to gain weight (such as the abdomen and thighs) are often the last areas to respond to diet and exercise. Conversely, the last areas of the body to gain weight often respond well to weight loss methods. This is why it is not uncommon for women to lose weight in their breasts before they start to see any change in love handles or thighs.

Over time, the breasts may sag, and stretch marks may develop. Those women who have diligently worked so hard to lose weight may be frustrated by the fact that their breasts may not look as revitalized as the rest of their body. It is not uncommon for Drs. Marcus Crawford and Steven Bailey to see women who are looking for ways to rejuvenate the appearance of their breasts after weight loss.  

Why Does Breast Skin Sag after Weight Loss?

The composition of the breast itself plays a role in breast ptosis. The breast does not contain any muscle structure. It is made up of fat and glandular tissue, with the chest (pectoral) muscles actually sitting behind the breast itself to anchor it to the chest wall. Although strengthening the pectoral muscles is important for building upper body strength, there are not any exercises to firm up the breasts.

Furthermore, the breast skin contains collagen. This natural protein fills out the body over the skeletal framework and provides the skin with elasticity. Over time, or with dramatic changes in weight, the breasts lose collagen, and therefore also lose elasticity. This can lead to breasts that sag or droop. Making matters even worse, repeatedly gaining and losing the same 10 pounds (often called yo-yo dieting) can stretch the breast skin as the breasts get heavier and lighter.

Preventing Sagging Breasts after Weight Loss

The breasts do not contain any muscle, per se. However, strengthening the pectoral muscles with push-ups or chest presses may provide the breasts with a more solid anchor to the chest, and may minimize the amount of sagging during the weight loss period.

The other option is a breast lift. This procedure is designed to pull the breasts back up so that the nipple and areola (the darkened skin around the nipple) face outward instead of down. Depending upon the shape and size of the breasts, there are several ways to accomplish this. If the breasts are small to begin with or there is only a minimal amount of sag, just the nipple and areola can be repositioned higher on the chest.

If there is a moderate amount of sag, a second incision may be made leading from the underside of the areola down to the inframammary crease (the underside of the breast, where it connects to the chest wall). This is called a lollipop incision pattern because of its shape.

Finally, for large breasts that have a significant amount of sag, in which the areolas and nipples face completely downward and have dropped below the level of the inframammary crease, an anchor incision pattern is used. A third incision, following the inframammary crease, is added. This will not only firm up the underside of the breasts, but also allow for repositioning the areola and nipple.

Patients who have lost a significant amount of weight by dedicating themselves to a regular exercise program and a healthy balanced diet want to be proud to show off the results of all their hard work. There is no reason why they should not also be proud to show off their more youthful looking breasts. 

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