What Will Your Scar Look Like After Breast Lift Surgery?

Dr. Robert Schwartz
August 17, 2022

Scarring is a normal part of any breast lift surgery, and it can concern many patients. What will your breast lift scars look like? And how can you minimize them?

Once you know which technique will be used during your surgery, you can start forming an idea of how your scars will look after a breast lift. A crescent lift, a donut lift, a lollipop lift, or an anchor lift will each leave you with a different type of scar. And, your breast lift scars will continue to heal over the months and years following your surgery, usually becoming much less visible with time. 

Although you cannot completely prevent scars after breast lifting, you can still improve their appearance. Silicone-based gels or sheets and sunscreen can all help your incisions heal better with less scarring. You can also hide mastopexy scars using mineral makeup, tattoos, or regular clothes. 

Do Breast Lifts Leave Scars?

A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a cosmetic surgery that tightens and raises saggy breasts, lifting them into a perkier, more youthful position. Part of this procedure requires your surgeon to remove the excess, stretched-out skin of the breasts. The gap left by the excised skin is sutured closed, but any time the full thickness of skin is removed, healing leaves a scar. There is no way around that.

The quality of the scar will depend on your genetics and how you intrinsically heal and the quality of your wound care. But your surgeon’s technique and skill also affect the final result.

To produce the best scar your surgeon should:

  • Handle your skin and tissue as delicately as possible.
  • Avoid removing too much skin. Excess removal will mean that he/she needs to stretch the skin to get it closed. This creates tension on the closure that can increase the size of your scars.
  • Place the incisions in the best locations to hide them.
  • Use the most appropriate sutures.
  • Close your incisions meticulously in multiple layers.

Do breast lift scars go away?

Although the scars from your breast lift are permanent, they’re usually most noticeable right after surgery. After several months, breast lift scars fade and become less pronounced. 

The degree of scar healing will depend on several factors such as:

  • Your genetics
  • Your overall health
  • Your skin color
  • The amount of sun exposure that your scar gets
  • The type of incision used during your breast lift surgery

Where are the Scars Located After Typical Breast Lifts?

Different types of breast lift surgeries require different surgical techniques. Each has its own characteristic scar pattern. 

Here are some of the most common breast lift types and a description of the scars they leave:

The crescent lift 

To perform a crescent lift, a plastic surgeon removes a crescent-shaped wedge of skin from the upper edge of the areola. Closing the resulting skin gap elevates the nipple and areola. The scar usually heals as a thin line at the upper areolar border running from 10 o’clock to two o’clock. This is the closest you can get to a scarless breast lift.  

Unfortunately, the crescent lift can only elevate the nipple a fraction of an inch and doesn't correct any sagging of the breast tissue. As such, it is rarely the best technique. Most women who would qualify for a crescent lift probably don't need a lift at all.

The donut lift (Benelli mastopexy)

The incision for a donut left is a full circle around the areola. more powerful than a crescent left, the donut (or Benelli lift) can raise the nipple an inch or more. It can also be used to reduce the diameter of overly large areolas and to modestly lift sagging tissue at the bottom of the breast.

The circular scar around the areola usually heals well, making the donut lift the most minimally scarring mastopexy that is truly effective.  

The lollipop lift (vertical mastopexy)

The vertical lift combines a very versatile and powerful lifting technique with fewer scars than a traditional full breast lift. Here the surgeon makes a circular incision around the areola as in a donut lift but also removes a vertically oriented wedge of skin extending from the bottom edge of the areola some distance toward the crease underneath the breast.

When this is closed, the scar looks like a circle around the areola with a line extending down from there. That pattern gives the vertical lift it's nicknamed "the lollipop lift.”

The disadvantage of the lollipop lift is that the vertical portion makes this scar more obvious than the one from the doughnut lift. On the other hand that vertical excision makes this lift much more powerful and flexible. It allows us to move the nipple further upwards without distorting the breast. It also permits a lot more tightening and lifting of the lower portion of the breast.

The vertical lift is useful for a wide range of breast sizes in degrees of sagging and works well in combination with breast implants, or on its own. It is the most common lift that we use. 

The anchor lift (Wise pattern mastopexy)

The anchor breast lift is the most aggressive mastopexy and the one that produces the longest scars. It is the most commonly performed mastopexy in the U.S. because it can be done on almost any breast and because it is technically easier to perform compared to vertical mastopexy.

An anchor lift incision has three components::

  • A circle around the areola like the donut lift
  • A vertical scar on the lower breast as in the vertical lift.
  • A third horizontal incision along the breast crease. This is made to remove excess skin from the lower part of the breast.

We use the anchor lift less frequently than the vertical because of the additional scarring it causes. We (and our patients) also prefer the rounder, more projecting breasts that come from the vertical lift. They’re simply prettier. 

Breast Lift Scars Timeline

You might wonder how long it takes for breast lift scars to heal. Here's what you can expect: 

  • In the first 1-2 weeks your incisions will look red and a bit raised. You may be bruised. Bruises are usually gone in 10-14 days. If there are sutures that need to be removed (we typically use only dissolvable sutures), they will be taken out one week after surgery.
  • For the first six weeks after your breast lift, your body rapidly deposits collagen into the healing incision. This will temporarily make the scars feel hard and it's normal -  your body is sensing that there has been an injury and it's doing what's needed to strengthen the wound so it doesn't open up.
  • After the first 6 weeks oh, your body will begin to remodel the collagen it deposited.  the scar will slowly soften, settle, and fade.
  • Some breast lift surgery scars might take 12 to 18 months to begin to completely heal. Most breast lift scars significantly fade away within two years after surgery, however, will remain visible to some degree. 

What Can Be Done About Overly Visible Scars?

As we've seen, breast lifts leave behind scars that will always stay visible to some degree. Ideally, the scars will heal to be thin - faded lines that are difficult to see. But what if they don't? What can we do then?

The treatment for excessive scarring depends on what’s making the scar visible. Let's look at several common breast lift scar problems and how you can improve them. In this discussion, we're going to assume that your scars are fully healed and mature before we address these problems. Usually, this means a minimum of six months have passed since your surgery

  • Raised or thickened scars - These are called hypertrophic scars. They occur when your body deposits more collagen than is necessary to heal the incision. These can usually be treated by injecting the scar with small amounts of steroids. The scars then flatten over several months. Sometimes several injection sessions may be required.
  • White scars - Wide scars can result when there is excess tension on an incision as it tries to heal. This is not uncommon in breast lift surgery, since it requires the removal of skin. That means that there is always going to be some degree of tension on the healing breast lift scar as it forms. Whitened scars can be treated by waiting for the skin to relax and stretch a little and then cutting out the scar and re-closing it.
  • Dark Scars - Scars can remain red because of excess blood vessels within them. These will typically fade with time or can be treated with a laser that obliterates the blood vessels. More darkly completed women or women who expose their scars to too much ultraviolet light can develop darkened scars. These dark scars can be treated with lasers or bleaching creams, but still can be a challenging problem to fix.

Are Breast Lift Scars Worth It?

So is it worth getting the benefits of a breast lift if the trade-off is permanent scars that are, to some degree, visible on the breasts? Ultimately, there's no right or wrong answer for this; it's a question every woman thinking about a mastopexy must answer for herself.

This is something that we discuss with all of our patients during the initial consultation before breast lift. We remind our patients that the real purpose of a breast lift is to take the breasts that currently make them self-conscious and transform them into breasts they’re proud of. 

Looking at that end goal, we have our patients imagine themselves with perkier, better-shaped breasts - but with the visible scars we discussed. If they then feel confident that they’d still feel better about their breasts in that scenario, we go ahead with the breast lift. If they think that having a scar is completely unacceptable, then we don’t proceed. 

In our experience, most women who are strongly considering a breast lift are comfortable with the scars going into it and are not bothered by them afterward. Or, at least they like their new, prettier breasts more than they dislike their breast lift scars. If you’re thinking about a breast lift, try this mental exercise and see how you feel about it. 

If you have any questions about breast lift surgery, please get in touch with Dr Schwartz and book a consultation call today!

Read also our blog about the recovery and healing process after undergoing a breast lift surgery.

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