top of page

4 Mastopexy Breast Lifting Techniques: Mechanisms and Potential Complications


Selecting the most appropriate mastopexy technique is a critical decision in addressing breast ptosis, as it directly influences surgical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Mastopexy, commonly known as a breast lift, encompasses various surgical approaches tailored to the degree of ptosis and the patient's unique anatomical characteristics. Each technique offers distinct advantages and considerations, highlighting the importance of individualized treatment planning to achieve optimal results.


Breast ptosis, characterized by sagging of the breast tissue and descent of the nipple-areola complex, can have significant aesthetic and functional implications for patients. Factors such as aging, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight fluctuations, and genetic predispositions contribute to the development of ptosis, necessitating surgical intervention to restore a youthful breast contour and improve self-confidence.

In the realm of mastopexy, surgeons have refined several techniques to address the diverse spectrum of ptosis presentations, ranging from mild to severe. These techniques differ in their incision patterns, extent of tissue dissection, and methods of nipple-areola complex repositioning, reflecting the nuanced approach required to meet each patient's specific goals and expectations.


In this blog, we will delve into the intricate world of mastopexy techniques, exploring the diverse approaches used to address breast ptosis and achieve aesthetically pleasing results.


I. Periareolar Mastopexy Technique


The periareolar mastopexy technique, also known as the donut mastopexy, is a surgical approach aimed at correcting mild to moderate breast ptosis (sagging) by repositioning the nipple-areola complex and reshaping the breast mound while minimizing scar length. This technique involves making an incision around the border of the areola, resulting in a scar that blends with the pigmented areolar skin, thus providing significant scar camouflage.


From a technical standpoint, the periareolar technique preserves the subdermal plexus by deepithelializing the periareolar skin, thereby maintaining sensation and blood supply to the nipple-areola complex. Unlike more extensive mastopexy procedures, such as the inverted-T scar technique, periareolar mastopexy typically involves limited elevation of the nipple-areola complex, making it suitable for addressing minor degrees of ptosis. Various modifications of the periareolar technique exist, including concentric and eccentric incision patterns, each with its own advantages and limitations. The choice of incision pattern depends on factors such as the degree of ptosis, the amount of excess skin to be removed, and the desired aesthetic outcome. For example, concentric incisions may be preferred for their simplicity, while eccentric patterns allow for greater flexibility in nipple-areola elevation.


In terms of glandular reshaping, modern periareolar techniques often incorporate techniques to reshape the breast tissue in addition to skin resection. This may involve techniques such as glandular plication or invagination to improve breast projection and contour.


Mechanism



  1. Anatomy and Blood Supply: The periareolar region contains an intricate network of blood vessels known as the subdermal plexus, which provides the main blood supply to the nipple-areola complex (NAC). Preservation of this vascular network is crucial for maintaining NAC viability and sensation. During periareolar mastopexy, careful dissection is performed to preserve the subdermal plexus while repositioning the NAC.

  2. Skin Resection and Scar Formation: The periareolar technique involves making an incision around the circumference of the areola, through which excess skin is removed. By utilizing this circumareolar incision, the resulting scar is strategically placed at the junction of the pigmented areolar skin and the surrounding breast skin. This placement minimizes scar visibility and allows for optimal camouflage.

  3. NAC Repositioning: Depending on the degree of ptosis, the surgeon may elevate the NAC to achieve the desired breast contour. This elevation is achieved by detaching the NAC from the underlying breast tissue and repositioning it to a higher anatomical location. Techniques such as glandular reshaping and internal suturing may be employed to provide additional support and stability to the newly positioned NAC.

  4. Glandular Reshaping: In addition to skin resection, glandular reshaping is often performed to enhance breast projection and contour. This may involve techniques such as glandular plication, in which excess breast tissue is folded and sutured to create a more youthful and lifted appearance. By addressing both skin laxity and glandular ptosis, the periareolar mastopexy technique achieves comprehensive breast rejuvenation.

  5. Sensory Preservation: Preserving nipple-areola sensation is a primary concern in mastopexy procedures. By preserving the subdermal plexus and carefully handling the nerves innervating the NAC, surgeons aim to minimize postoperative sensory changes. Techniques such as nerve-sparing dissection and tension-free wound closure contribute to maintaining sensory integrity in the periareolar region.

  6. Scar Management: Despite efforts to minimize scar length and visibility, scar formation is an inevitable aspect of periareolar mastopexy. Surgeons employ various scar management strategies, including meticulous wound closure, the use of absorbable and non-absorbable sutures, and postoperative scar care protocols. Advances in scar mitigation technologies, such as silicone gel sheets and laser therapy, further optimize scar outcomes.


Overall, the periareolar mastopexy technique offers a conservative approach to breast ptosis correction, with the primary goal of achieving natural-looking results while minimizing scar length and preserving nipple-areola sensation and blood supply. It is important for plastic surgeons to carefully evaluate each patient's unique anatomy and aesthetic goals to determine the most appropriate surgical technique for mastopexy.



II. Vertical Scar Technique


The vertical scar technique aims to lift and reshape the breasts while minimizing the extent of scarring compared to traditional methods. This technique involves making an incision around the areola and extending vertically downward towards the inframammary fold. This approach allows for direct access to the breast tissue and facilitates the reshaping and repositioning of the breast mound. After the incisions are made, the surgeon carefully dissects through the breast tissue, removing excess skin, and reshaping the breast mound to achieve the desired contour and elevation. This may involve repositioning the nipple-areola complex to a higher, more youthful position on the breast mound.


Unlike traditional mastopexy techniques that utilize an anchor-shaped incision (including a horizontal incision along the inframammary fold), the vertical scar technique minimizes the horizontal component of the incision. This results in a more limited scar pattern, reducing the risk of visible scarring along the lower breast crease. By concentrating the majority of the incision along the vertical axis of the breast, the vertical scar technique allows for more efficient distribution of tension during wound closure. This can contribute to improved wound healing and reduced risk of wound complications such as dehiscence or hypertrophic scarring.


The vertical scar technique aims to preserve as much of the patient's natural breast tissue as possible while still achieving the desired lift and reshaping effects. This can be advantageous in terms of maintaining breast volume and minimizing the risk of postoperative complications related to tissue necrosis or impaired vascularity. Studies have shown that the vertical scar technique can yield favorable aesthetic outcomes, with high patient satisfaction rates and minimal visible scarring compared to traditional mastopexy approaches. The more limited scar pattern is particularly advantageous for patients who prefer to minimize visible scarring on the breasts.



Mechanism


  1. Incision Placement: Surgeons begin by making an incision around the areola, the pigmented area surrounding the nipple. From there, a vertical incision extends downward towards the inframammary fold, creating a "lollipop" shape. This strategic placement allows access to the underlying breast tissue for reshaping while minimizing visible scarring.

  2. Tissue Dissection: Following the incision, surgeons carefully dissect through the breast tissue layers. This dissection allows access to the mammary gland and surrounding structures, facilitating reshaping and repositioning of the breast mound.

  3. Removal of Excess Skin: Excess skin is excised to address breast ptosis and achieve the desired breast contour. The vertical scar technique focuses on removing skin predominantly along the vertical axis, sparing the horizontal component seen in traditional anchor-shaped incisions.

  4. NAC Repositioning

  5. Scar Formation: The resulting scar from the vertical scar technique typically resembles a lollipop shape, with a circular component around the areola and a vertical line extending downward. Over time, the scar tends to fade and become less noticeable, especially when proper wound care and scar management techniques are employed.



III. Inverted-T Scar Technique



The inverted-T scar technique, also known as the Wise pattern or anchor scar mastopexy, is a surgical approach used in breast lift procedures to address moderate to severe breast ptosis (sagging). This technique involves creating an incision around the areola, extending vertically downwards from the areola to the inframammary fold, and horizontally along the fold itself, resembling an inverted-T or anchor shape.


Mechanism


  1. Incision Placement and Design: The inverted-T scar technique involves strategic incision placement to facilitate reshaping and lifting of the breast tissue. The initial incision is made around the perimeter of the areola, allowing access to the underlying breast tissue and glandular structures. From the lower border of the areola, a vertical incision is extended downwards towards the inframammary fold, following the natural curvature of the breast. Finally, a horizontal incision is made along the inframammary fold, completing the inverted-T pattern. This incision design allows the surgeon to remove excess skin, reshape the breast mound, reposition the nipple-areola complex (NAC), and achieve a more youthful breast contour.

  2. Tissue Dissection and Reshaping: Following the incision, the surgeon carefully dissects through the breast tissue to access the underlying mammary gland and remove any excess skin and tissue. The glandular tissue may be reshaped and repositioned to enhance breast projection and symmetry. Special attention is paid to maintaining adequate blood supply to the NAC to minimize the risk of nipple or areolar necrosis.

  3. NAC Repositioning

  4. Skin Closure and Scar Management



IV. L-Shaped Short Scar Technique


The L-shaped short scar mastopexy is a surgical technique utilized in breast lift procedures to address mild to moderate breast ptosis (sagging) while minimizing scar length and visibility. This technique involves creating an L-shaped incision pattern, which differs from traditional mastopexy approaches such as the inverted-T or vertical scar techniques.


  1. Incision Design and Placement: The L-shaped short scar mastopexy involves the creation of an L-shaped incision pattern on the breast. The vertical component of the incision extends downward from the areola towards the inframammary fold, while the horizontal component runs along the fold itself, forming the shorter arm of the "L" shape. This incision design allows for access to the underlying breast tissue while minimizing scar length along the inframammary fold.

  2. Tissue Dissection and Reshaping: Following the incision, the surgeon carefully dissects through the breast tissue to access the underlying mammary gland and remove any excess skin and tissue contributing to breast ptosis. The glandular tissue may be reshaped and repositioned to restore a more youthful and lifted breast contour. Preservation of the blood supply to the nipple-areola complex (NAC) is critical to minimize the risk of ischemic complications.

  3. NAC Repositioning

  4. Skin Closure and Scar Management

Complications of Mastopexy


  1. Delayed Wound Healing: Despite meticulous surgical technique, some patients may experience delayed wound healing along the incision sites. Factors such as poor tissue perfusion, smoking, diabetes, and infection can contribute to impaired wound healing.

  2. Infection: Surgical site infections can occur following mastopexy procedures, including the vertical scar technique. Prompt recognition and treatment with antibiotics are essential to prevent complications such as wound dehiscence and implant exposure.

  3. Hematoma: Hematomas, or collections of blood within the surgical site, can occur postoperatively. While small hematomas may resolve spontaneously, larger hematomas may require surgical evacuation to prevent complications such as infection and impaired wound healing.

  4. Seroma Formation: Seromas, or collections of serous fluid, can develop in the surgical site following mastopexy. Although most seromas resolve spontaneously, persistent or symptomatic seromas may require drainage to alleviate discomfort and prevent complications.

  5. Nipple or Areolar Necrosis: In rare cases, inadequate blood supply to the nipple-areola complex (NAC) can result in partial or complete necrosis. Factors such as excessive tension on the skin flaps, compromised vascular perfusion, and smoking can increase the risk of NAC necrosis

  6. Asymmetry: Despite the surgeon's best efforts, asymmetry between the breasts may occur following mastopexy. Factors such as differences in breast size, shape, and tissue laxity can contribute to postoperative asymmetry, which may require revision surgery to address.

  7. Scarring: While the vertical scar technique aims to minimize visible scarring, some patients may develop hypertrophic scars or keloids along the incision sites. Proper wound care, scar management techniques, and patient education are essential to optimize scar outcomes.

  8. Changes in Nipple Sensation: Alterations in nipple sensation, including hypersensitivity, hyposensitivity, or numbness, may occur following mastopexy. These changes are typically temporary but can persist in some cases, affecting patient satisfaction.

  9. Ptosis Recurrence: Over time, recurrent breast ptosis may occur following mastopexy, particularly in patients with significant breast tissue laxity or inadequate skin excision. Patient counseling regarding the potential for future ptosis and the need for revision surgery may be necessary.

  10. Implant-related Complications (if combined with augmentation): In cases where mastopexy is combined with breast augmentation using implants, additional complications such as capsular contracture, implant malposition, and implant rupture may occur. Surgeons should carefully assess patient anatomy and implant selection to minimize these risks.


Given the variability in ptosis severity and patient preferences, the selection of the most suitable mastopexy technique is paramount. Surgeons must carefully assess factors such as the degree of breast ptosis, skin elasticity, nipple position, breast volume, and patient desires to determine the optimal surgical approach. By choosing the most appropriate technique, surgeons can achieve natural-looking results while minimizing scarring, preserving nipple sensation, and ensuring long-term patient satisfaction.


In this context, understanding the intricacies of each mastopexy technique and its implications for surgical outcomes is essential. Surgeons must possess a comprehensive knowledge base and technical proficiency to navigate the complexities of breast ptosis correction effectively. Moreover, fostering open communication and collaboration between surgeons and patients is crucial in selecting the technique that best aligns with the patient's aesthetic goals and expectations.


As advancements in surgical techniques and technologies continue to evolve, the landscape of mastopexy offers a diverse array of options to address breast ptosis comprehensively. By embracing a patient-centered approach and tailoring treatment strategies to individual needs, surgeons can optimize outcomes and enhance the quality of life for patients undergoing mastopexy procedures.


Reference:

The Limited Scar Mastopexy: Current Concepts and Approaches to Correct Breast Ptosis (2004)

Incision Patterns for Breast Reduction (2024)

Creation and Evolution of 30 Years of the Inferior Pedicle in Reduction Mammaplasties (2002) The vertical scar technique (2002)



 


Learn techniques behind Aesthetic Breast Augmentation

in our upcoming Mini Fellowship:


IFAAS Mini Visiting Fellowship

Korean Advanced Aesthetic Breast Augmentation




 

More Upcoming Global Events


Comentarios


bottom of page