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Breast Lift

Dr. John Q. Cook is a respected Chicago breast lift surgeon with more than 20 years of experience.





John Q. Cook, M.D.

Chicago 312-751-2112
Winnetka 847-446-7562

Video: Breast Lift Options

Breast Lift to Restore the Breast’s Tone, Structure, and Position

Why Patients Come to Me for Breast Lift Surgery

Patients come to me for the breast lift operation, also known as mastopexy, for several reasons:

  1. Restoring Shape

    Some patients tell me it is mainly a matter of returning their breasts to the beautiful shape they used to have.

  2. Lack of Fullness

    Some patients say the key issue is a lack of fullness in the upper portion of the breast, which restricts their choice of clothing and swimsuits.

  3. Settled Breasts

    There are also women who find that as their breasts settle they become increasingly asymmetric and unbalanced. This may have effects on posture and back comfort.

  4. Restrictive Garments

    For some patients the tight, restricting bras that are necessary to lift and properly support the breast are uncomfortable.

  5. Breast Development

    There are also patients whose breasts have been settled ever since their breasts have developed. These patients may become self-conscious about their breasts.

  6. Reward

    I have also seen patients who after years of not taking care of themselves restore their health and well-being through a positive program of nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. Some of these patients tell me that by restoring a beautiful breast shape they are celebrating their new body.

Do I Want Implants along with a Breast Lift?

A Simple Test Will Guide You in the Right Direction

If you are considering breast lift surgery, the first decision you need to make is whether a breast lift alone will satisfy your goals or whether you need to add volume with breast implants. Are you reasonably happy with the shape of your breasts when they are supported by an uplifting bra without padding? If so, a breast lift without implants may very well achieve your goals.

Here is a simple visual test that will help: Stand in front of a mirror and look at your unsupported breasts from several angles. Next, gently push your breast upward with one hand so that it no longer hangs over the fold. Look at the supported breast from several angles. If you think that the breast seems to be reasonably full, then a breast lift without implants may work well for you.

We Have Detailed Information about Options for a Combined Breast Lift and Augmentation

There is a separate section of this website that discusses the combined operation with several possible choices.

structural breast lift and implants | John Q. Cook, M.D.

This patient wanted to lift her breasts and increase volume, so she chose a structural breast lift with implants. Click image to view in photo gallery.

There Are Several Reasons Why Breasts Lose Their Structure and Tone and Tend to Droop Over Time

The most common reason that patients come to me for breast lift surgery is to restore a pleasing breast shape after pregnancy and breast feeding. The mechanical stretching of the breast structure that occurs with pregnancy and breastfeeding often causes a permanent loosening of the breast’s internal support and a stretching out of the skin as well. For some breast surgery patients this is accompanied by a loss of breast volume.


I recommend that my patients hold off on breast lift surgery until they are reasonably certain that they are not going to have any more children. If a patient becomes pregnant after she has had a breast lift, the breasts will typically go through the normal cycle of pregnancy, but the lift may have to be repeated in order to restore the desired breast shape.

Breast Lift | John Q. Cook, M.D.

Breast lift post childbirth. Click image to view in gallery.

Significant Weight Loss

I am seeing an increasing number of patients who come to me to restore the tone of their breasts after major weight loss. These patients frequently have a very significant loss of breast volume, so that I often recommend the use of breast implants along with the lift to restore the internal breast structure. The structural breast lift technique allows me to rearrange the breast structure so that, in some patients, I am able to return enough volume to the upper portion of the breast with natural breast tissue that we can avoid the use of implants.

Gravity and Hormonal Changes

Even without pregnancy and weight loss, most breasts will settle over time because of the effect of gravity and changes in the hormonal environment. To a degree, supportive bras  will help to delay this process. There is a wide variation from one person to another in the structure of collagen and other molecules that make up the support of our bodies. This variation is one of the reasons that some patients will experience significant breast settling in their twenties, while others will still have a tight breast structure in their fifties and sixties.

Breast Ptosis

Some patients experience severe drooping of the breasts from the time the breasts begin to develop. Plastic surgeons refer to this as congenital breast ptosis. There may be other changes with this type of breast, such as a restriction of the breast base or herniation of breast structure through the areola. Various names are attached to these changes, such as Poland’s Syndrome and constricted breast syndrome. In general, patients who experience this breast shape in their high school years tend to be very self-conscious. For these patients corrective surgery can be a wonderfully liberating experience. Many will need a combination of implants, some type of breast lift, and other advanced techniques to get the best possible breast shape.

Correction of Ptosis with Breast Lift | Dr. John Q. Cook

Correction of ptosis with breast lift. Click image to view in photo gallery.

Size and Weight of Implant

If a large breast implant is placed beneath a breast that has already developed significant drooping, it may provide a bit of a temporary lift, but eventually the breast will droop even more due to the weight of the implant. I see a good number of these patients every year and my solution is to reduce the size of the implant and carry out a breast lift, sometimes in combination with other techniques.

Breast Lift Surgery Is Much More than Just Tightening the Skin

For many years, breast lift surgery in the United States consisted of a tightening of the skin. Over the short term, this will lift the breast structure, but skin lift techniques have three disadvantages:

  1. Stretchy Skin

    People who need breast lifts often have stretchy skin, so the breast tends to stretch again.

  2. Lift at Skin Level

    The only lift is at the skin level, so there is no deeper support of the breast structure.

  3. Upper Portion of Breast

    Very often, the area of the breast that is most in need of volume is the upper portion of the breast. This is the first area to hollow out after a skin lift, since the breast structure descends as the lower curve of the breast stretches out again.

Because of these issues, many surgeons routinely use breast implants with their breast lifts. That way the implant will partially compensate for the limitations of breast lift surgery by keeping some fullness in the upper pole.

Structural Breast Lift Surgery Is Now My Preferred Breast Lift Technique

Taking my inspiration from the pioneering work of European plastic surgeons, I developed and refined the structural breast lift. This operation answers the deficiencies of standard breast lift techniques.

Structural Breast Lift | John Q. Cook. M.D. | Chicago and North Shore

Structural breast lift. Click image to view in photo gallery.

  1. I reposition a portion of the breast tissue to the upper part of the breast in order to replace the volume that has been lost in this important area. Because of this, I am much less likely to use breast implants with my breast lifts. Of course, if a patient wants more volume I can provide it with implants.
  2. I provide the breast with deep structural anchoring at several levels, so that there is internal stabilization of the breast structure. In my opinion, this provides a much stronger lift that can be accomplished with a tightening of the skin.
  3. Scars are limited, especially in comparison the classical lift, which has a very long scar that runs along the fold under the breast. Most experienced breast surgeons will tell you that it is this lower scar that is most likely to heal in a less than ideal way. If this scar can be avoided, especially in the inner portion of the breast, it is highly desirable to do so.

Structural breast lift and high lateral tension abdominoplasty | Dr. John Q. Cook

Structural breast lift combined with high lateral tension abdominoplasty. Click image to view in gallery.