The results of a well-done breast lift surgery will last most patients anywhere from 15-20 years.
But just as the causes of sagging breasts and the number of years it took for them to noticeably sag are so varied, so, too, will the results of the surgery be.
Women who don’t don’t smoke and who maintain a stable weight, use good skincare and stick to a healthy diet while protecting their breasts from overexposure to the sun will have the longest-lasting results.
Women who get pregnant again after breast lift surgery, as well as women who smoke, will have the shortest-lasting breast lift surgery results.
Younger women tend to have longer-lasting breast lift results than older women do, since the quality of the skin is naturally affected with age.
The shortest time that a properly done breast lift should last is about 7 years (again excluding additional pregnancies and very dramatic changes in weight), while the longest a breast lift will last is closer to 25 years.
But again, the average number of years that a properly breast lift surgery lasts is 15-20 years, and it’s unlikely that you’d ever need a second breast lift in your lifetime—unless you were to get pregnant after your first surgery.
“Properly done” simply means that the degree of “lift” that a surgeon decides to provide you is (should be) based on the degree of ptosis, or breast sagging that you have. The scale runs from Grade 1 (mild sagging) to Grade 3 (significant sagging), though there are two more grades that relate to “abnormalities.”
In addition to degree of ptosis, your surgeon should also take into account your goals for the procedure; the quality of your breast skin; your breast volume; your age, weight and height; and any asymmetry between your breasts now.
Every board-certified breast surgeon knows this, but it has to be said since some “plastic surgeons” are actually dentists or pediatricians.
Breast lift surgery doesn’t stop the breasts from ever sagging again, but it does erase typically about 10-15 years’ worth of sagging and drooping. As the excess skin that’s allowing the sagging to occur is physically removed during surgery, it won’t “grow back,” but the breasts may be affected by gravity, weight gain/loss, and other factors going forward.
Breast lift 101: What is it?
Breast lift surgery raises the position of the breasts by removing excess skin.
A breast lift isn’t the same as a breast augmentation, though the two procedures can be done at the same time.
Breast augmentation surgery adds saline or silicone gel implants under or above the chest muscles in order to increase the size, volume, and projection of the breasts.
Breast lift surgery raises the position of the breasts but does not add much volume.
Lifting raises the invisible “line” to which the breasts fall; the upper pole of the breast (obviously) remains in the same place, while the nipple and areola complex are raised, or lifted, into a more youthful, and comfortable, position.
Breast lift surgery might also give the appearance of having added about a half cup size in breast volume, since the breast tissue envelope is tightened and thus raised—the same volume of “water” (tissue inside the breasts) is being contained by a smaller “water balloon” (the breast tissue envelope).
But, aside from this tightening of the breast skin envelope, nothing is added to the breasts during breast lift surgery.
How long does a breast lift last?
The results of breast lift surgery last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, with 10-15 being the average length of time that patients of the popular plastic surgery procedure will be able to enjoy their results for.
Just as a variety of factors are involved in the reasons for the breasts drooping or sagging to begin with, a variety of factors are also involved in how long a breast lift lasts.
Women who get pregnant after breast lift surgery will shorter the lifespan of their results, thus it’s advised that they wait until after they are done having children before getting a breast lift.
Women whose weight fluctuates (whether it greatly increases, or greatly decreases) will also experience shorter-living breast lift results than they would if they were to maintain about the same weight as they had going into surgery.
A healthy body weight is ideal, and all significant weight fluctuations will negatively impact the results of a breast lift.
Other key factors involved in how long a breast lift lasts include:
- Weight gain.
- Bra-wearing. A properly fitted bra is important and professional fitting may be best.
- Smoking. Smoking will reduce the lifespan of the results of a breast lift and ceasing smoking will make results last longer.
- Hormonal changes. These affect many parts of the body, and may impact a breast lift.
- Pregnancy. It’s best to have a breast lift after you’ve had all the children you plan to. You may get pregnant after a breast lift if you wish (though the same can not always be same of breast augmentation surgery with implants), however that will affect your aesthetic results.
- Menopause. Hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause affect the breasts; as estrogen production slows, the breasts may shrink and become less firm, ultimately losing some of their shape.
- Patient’s age. A patient’s age will affect the length her breast lift results last. Younger patients (such as those getting a breast lift as part of a mommy makeover) will have the longest-lasting results (all other things being equal), while older patients will have shorter-lasting results, but results that may last 10-15 years nevertheless. Age affects breast implant results as it affects the quality of the skin, often thinning it and making it less supple and hydrated. A great skincare routine and diet will go a long way, as will an active lifestyle
How to make your breast lift last longer
Women who decide to have breast lift surgery will spend anywhere from $5-$12,000, so they may wish to do what they can to have their breast lift surgery results last longer.
Barring genetic factors, there are steps you can take to hopefully prolong the results of your breast lift.
Unfortunately, the actions that need to be taken (and those that should be stopped) are long-term changes, rather than quick fix type solutions. Not wearing a well-fitted bra, smoking a single cigarette, or gaining a few pounds won’t impact or shorten your results.
But, doing so over the course of a year of three definitely will.
Here is what you can do to prolong your results of breast lift surgery:
- Sleep on your back (and, less often, your side.)
- Wear a well-fitting bra.
- Maintain a good posture.
- Stick to a good skincare routine.
- Protect your breasts from overexposure to the sun.
- Eat a healthy, nourishing diet.
- Don’t smoke.
Again, these are lifestyle habits that you can pay attention to in order to prolong your breast lift results, but they are not quick fixes.
Just as it may have taken a decade or longer for your breasts to sag, it may take several years or longer for the same factors—genetics, skin health, weight changes, smoking, hormonal changes, lifestyle factors—to negatively impact your life.
Most patients find that a balance is best: Live your best life and refrain from the worst possible offenses above, but you can always get another breast lift if you need to in 10 years.
That’s the beauty of cosmetic surgery: In a few hours (and a few weeks of recovery) it can help us improve those parts of our body that we’ve been unable to successfully care for without taking too much time and mindfulness away from what we’re actually living for.
Is a breast lift permanent?
Is breast lifting permanent? Yes and no. The results of a breast lift are permanent to the extent that the surgery does involve physically excising (cutting out) skin tissue that won’t grow back—and which the removal of will allow the breast to move up higher.
So in that sense, a breast lift is permanent.
However, breast lift surgery does not prevent the breasts from continuing to sag in the future.
For instance, let’s assume you had a breast lift at age 40, after 10 years of your breasts sagging due to perfectly normal things like aging and gravity—things that affect us all.
Well, your breast lift is going to correct the sagging that has occurred over those 10 years and it won’t return.
But by the time you are 50—now 10 years after your breast lift surgery—that’s an additional 10 years of natural aging and the pull of gravity that has been given the chance to build up.
So your first breast lift—as beautiful and effective as it may be—may not be your last breast lift.
Or it may be your first and only breast lift ever needed.
If you had a breast lift after breastfeeding one or more of your children, for instance, that lift will effectively return your breasts to their pre-breastfeeding position (or higher), and that may be all you ever need.
Or, 20 years after that lift done to correct the effects of breastfeeding, maybe you’ll want another lift to correct gravity and aging.
All things considered, the cosmetic results of a good breast lift will last 10-15, or even 20 years. A patient’s natural skin quality and thickness, their genetics, their level of physical activity, and their lifestyle habits (including diet, drug use, or smoking) will determine whether a lift lasts for as little as 5 years, or as long as 20.
Roughly 60-75 percent of the lifespan of your breast lift will depend on genetic and hormonal factors, and 25-40 percent will depend on your lifestyle choices as described above.
These are approximate percentages but the important point is that just as you probably didn’t do much to need a breast lift in the first place (barring perhaps, weight gain and childbearing), you probably won’t do much to affect the lifespan of your breast lift. If the breasts are already going to sag naturally (as they do), it may not be worth it to spend months of effort to prevent it.
What causes breasts to sag after a breast lift?
But if you are interested in preventing your breasts from sagging, there are some points that are at least worth being aware of.
The female breasts sag naturally over time. This is and should be considered perfectly natural—at least as far as science’s modern understanding of aging.
Factors that cause the breasts to sag more than normal include the following:
- Weight gain; try maintaining a healthy weight and BMI.
- Not wearing a proper, well-fitting bra.
- Smoking; it affects the tension and quality of all skin on the body, which it dehydrates.
- Hormonal issues; fluctuations in hormones can cause the breasts to sag.
- Pregnancy; the body adjusts greatly to help you bring new life into the world.
- Menopause; may reduce breast volume and affect breast fullness.
Ultimately, the reason each of the above are factors in breast sagging, is that all of them affect the volume and fullness of the breasts, which causes the breast skin envelope to be larger than the contents of the breasts.
If your breasts were full and robust, the skin of your breast envelope likewise grew (or stretched) to accommodate that, even if it didn’t grow or stretch enough to cause visible wrinkling.
However, when you lose that internal volume, whether through aging, weight loss, or breastfeeding, the breast skin envelope does not shrink to accommodate the smaller tissue contents they are now holding.
Thus, a breast lift is eventually needed, should you be interested in correcting some of that natural cycle and restoring the breasts to a cosmetically appealing, and in some cases more comfortable, position.