Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Risks


Dr Bernard Beldholm

The procedure will result in scar formation, as with all surgery. Scarring is generally pink, but fades to become white, soft and supple in the weeks or months after the operation. Most patients find that the wound heals quickly and that the appearance is ultimately acceptable to them. However, abnormal scarring occasionally occurs within the skin and deeper tissues, and these may be unattractive and of different colour to the surrounding skin. Scars may exhibit contour variations and “bunching” due to excess skin, or may be asymmetrical (with a different appearance between the right and left side of the body). In some cases scars may require surgical revision or treatment. In rare cases keloid scars form, which are thickened by an inflammatory process in the scar tissue. This occurs due to an irregularity of the patient’s healing process.

General complications applicable to all types of operations include, but are not limited to:

  • Heart problems (although very uncommon with modern anaesthetic techniques).
  • Lung problems; small areas of the lungs may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. Such problems may require antibiotics and physiotherapy to correct. Other potential lung complications are quite rare.
  • Clots in the legs with pain and swelling. Rarely, part of such a clot may break off and travel to the lungs, causing fatal complications.
  • Allergic reactions to medications.
  • Potential for injury to deeper structures including nerves, blood vessels, and muscles.
  • Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures. Usually this resolves during healing but, in rare cases, may be chronic.
  • Deep sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal.
  • Wound disruption or delayed wound healing – especially in patients who do not stop smoking before their operation. Necrosis (skin death) can also occur.

Postoperative pain will occur in varying degrees, from quite severe to moderate and mild on the first day. It gradually improves over the next few days and is assisted by using the prescribed  pain medication. Increasing, and unresponsive pain should be brought to the attention of the surgeon as this may be an indication that complications are developing.

Intermittent mild discomfort or intermittent sharp pains after the first few weeks may be evident as swelling resolves and the nerves recover. Some patients experience a temporary increase in sensitivity of the nipples which can be unpleasant but typically settles down after a few weeks and, at most, within a few months.

Chronic pain, ranging from mild aching pain to sharp nerve pain can persist for more than a year.

To reduce risk the patient should stop treatment with such drugs as Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or other blood-thinning agents, including high dose vitamin E tablets or capsules, 10-14 days prior to surgery. We will provide you with a comprehensive list of substances to avoid in your pre-operative instruction sheet. However if you are taking any medications and you are unsure if they affect bleeding, please ask us at least two weeks before your operation.

Specific complications applicable to Breast lift surgery may include:

  • Changes in nipple and skin sensation. It is possible to experience diminished sensitivity in the nipples and the skin of your breast. Partial or complete loss of nipple and skin sensation can occur in one or both nipples and be permanent in rare cases. This may affect sexual response or the ability to breastfeed.
  • Infection,either superficial or deep.
  • Skin contour irregularities may occur, with visible wrinkling. Residual skin irregularities at the ends of the incisions or “dog ears” are possible when there is excessive redundant skin, this may improve with time, or  can be surgically corrected.
  • Fat necrosis, where fatty tissue located deep in the breast dies. This may produce areas of firmness, requiring additional surgery to remove it. Contour irregularities in the skin may result.
  • Skin discoloration and swelling. Some bruising and swelling is normal and the skin in or near the surgical site can appear either lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. While this usually resolves quickly, it may persist for longer periods and become permanent.
  • Breast asymmetry may be noted.
  • Bleeding after surgery – though rare- may require emergency treatment to drain accumulated blood. Intraoperative blood transfusion may also be required. 
  • Excessive breast firmness can result from internal scarring.This occurrence is not predictable and additional treatment including surgery may be necessary.

Breast surgery procedures that involve cutting through breast tissue can potentially interfere with diagnostic procedures such as sentinel lymph node biopsy, which determines lymph node drainage of breast tissue to stage breast cancer.

Pregnancy: Your breast skin may stretch during pregnancy and affect the results of Mastopexy. You may also experience difficulty breastfeeding after this operation.

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30 Belmore Rd
Lorn NSW 2320


This website contains adult content. You must be 18 years or over to read. All surgery carries risks. You should seek a second opinion before proceeding. Results vary from patient to patient. See our disclaimer.
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