Risk of Scarring from a Breast Lift with a History of Keloids?

I am interested in having a breast lift. Currently I'm a 34DD, and happy with the fullness and amount of breast tissue that I have. I don't feel that I'd need an implant but I'm unhappy with the my chest's "droopy" look when I remove my bra. If I undergo this procedure, what are the risks of serious scarring or keloid development? I've had a history of keloids on my ear that were successfully removed with steroids and surgery as well a hyperthropic scar on my knee. Would this affect my chances? If so, what can be done to minimize it? Also, what would be the average costs of these procedures in major cities such as NYC or LA?

Doctor Answers 23

Keloids are unpredictable: Consult an experienced Plastic Surgeon

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The develepment of keloids are very unpredictable. I'll give you an example. Suppose a patient sustains two identical injuries, one on the left arm and one on right arm. A keloid may develop on one arm, both arms, or neither arm. Its totally unpredictable.

If you have a history of keloid scars, there is a higher chance that you will develop them on your breasts after surgery.

Typically, an experienced surgeon would advise you against performing elective surgery as the risk of poor scars is higher in someone with your history.

Keloids are quite difficult to treat. You should seriously discuss these issues with your plastic surgeon and weigh the benefits of breast lift (mastopexy) vs. poor scars.

Finally, the goal of a breast lift without implants is to improve the appearance of your breasts in the nude, not in clothes. If you feel that you would be accepting of a breast scar that may be noticeable in the nude, then you may discuss breast lifting with your surgeon.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Preventing Keloids and Breast Lift

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If you have had a previous history of keloid formation, you are at risk for forming keloids with any cut, whether from surgery or trauma.

There are a number of treatments that can be very helpful in preventing the development of keloids.

Atypical preventive treatment uses steroid injections into the scar, or the application of steroid cream or tape to the scar surface.

Breast lift will certainly involve scars, one of the tradeoffs of the procedure.

Carefully discuss those tradeoffs with your surgeon and a plan for keloid management before surgery.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

It is hard to avoid keloids

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Your surgery will be a higher risk for keloid scars since you had some of these before. It is a hard decision for you, your surgeon can not prevent the development of the keloid. It will help to avoid a large implant or any tension on the wound. Best of luck!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Keloid scarring with breast surgery

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While keloids remain a bit of a mystery, some things are clear.

There are some areas of the body that are more prone to keloids and hypertrophic scars than others. One of these areas includes the central chest.

People with a strong history (personal or family) are at a higher risk of keloiding.

Meticulous technique, silicone sheeting and steroids can reduce the risks of keloiding.

In my San Francisco area practice, people who have a strong history of keloiding are cautioned that even with the best technique and technology keloiding can occur and may require additional treatment. I have not had this happen in the over 400 breast reductions I have performed but it is certainly possible.

In terms of costs, a breast lift without augmentation typically costs about $5000 in my practice.

I hope this helps!

There is always a risk of bad scarring with any surgery,...

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There is always a risk of bad scarring with any surgery, even on the breast. Having a history of keloids or hypertrophic scarring will increase your risk compared to other women having the same procedure who have not had a history of keloids.

There are, however, some things that can be done to minimize your risk, and these should be discussed with your surgeon in advance:

Using silicone sheet therapy after the procedure (this looks essentially like a large band-aid for all of the incisions, stays on day and night except for showering for a minimum of 6 weeks, doesn't hurt, but seems to help scars soften and flatten)

Steroid injections after surgery, even if the scars look reasonable, as a prophylatic measure.

In the end, you will need to ask yourself if you are willing to trade the risk of bad scars for a better shape to your breast-- if the answer is yes, then a breast lift is an option. Otherwise, be cautious.

Hope that helps,

Dr. S

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Risks of Breast Lift

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All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk. Any breast operation can result in changes in sensation. This happens less with lifts than reductions but is still possible Occasionally, minor complications occur and do not affect the surgical outcome. Major complications associated with this procedure are rare. The suitability of the breast lift procedure and specific risks may be determined during you consultation.

#Hypertrophic or #keloid scars can be a problem. The worst are usually under the breast with an #AnchorLift or inverted “T”. These can be treated like all thickened scars with re-excision, laser, kenalog/5-FU injections, creams, silicone strips and other methods to reduce and improve healing.

Costs will depend on several factors: the geographic location, the skill and experience of the surgeon, and operating room and anesthesia fees. Approximate costs can be found on the Real Self website, Surgery.org, or PlasticSurgery.org. Quotes can be received from various local surgeons for you to compare the best cost to achieve your desired result.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews


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Best Breast Scar Management is important to minimize or completely hide from view, the telltale signs of your surgery—namely, scars. Both you and your surgeon want you to have the most minimal scarring possible. There are many possible causes for scars that are enlarged or not healing well. Unsightly scars are most commonly due to genetics, underlying medical conditions, or improper scar/wound care. The last part is very important and patients can make a noticeable difference in their scars’ appearance by following best scar management practices. Here are some simple tips in the below link.

Increased Risk

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If you have a history of forming keloids then your chances of forming keloids following a breast lift or reduction are high.

  • Use of silicone gel patches for several months as a precaution
  • Injections of low dose cortisone as soon as problems are detected

These measures may minimize your scars but will not prevent them.

Ivan Thomas, MD (retired)
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Ear and knee keloids don't necessarily mean breast lift keloids

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As others have correctly stated, a history of keloids COULD be predictive of bad scarring following breast lift. You are wise to be cautious, and my colleagues' recommendations are similar to what I would tell you.

BUT, there is a possibility that an ear keloid and knee keloid are not accurate predictors of breast keloids. Other than individual genetic predisposition to form excessive collagen deposition in healing tissues (in the form of hypertrophic scars, or even more aggressive keloids), irritation, inflammation, and repetitive motion can stimulate the production of thicker, unsightly hypertrophic or keloid scars. The ear pierce that is irritated or inflamed (often by allergic reaction to some metals, or superficial infection) can develop a keloid even in an individual that won't develop keloids elsewhere. The same goes for the knee area, which can thicken, widen, or form a keloid because of the constant skin and scar stretch and unstretch with this active area.

Thus, it is POSSIBLE, though in no way guaranteed, that you could have very nice scars on your breasts because this area won't have the irritation and inflammation of an ear pierce, or the movement and skin stretching of the knee area. If you have had a mole or cyst on your chest or breasts removed, or a breast biopsy scar, scarring in these sites would be much more predictive of what to expect with a breast lift. If you have not had any incisions to heal on your breasts, keloids are indeed possible, but not necessarily a foregone conclusion. You need to weigh the potential improvement in breast appearance with the possibility of bad scars, and you should select a plastic surgeon who is just a bit obsessive with his or her suture technique. Good luck!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Breast lift and keloid scars

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If you have a history of keloids you will be at a higher risk of developing keloids or hypertrophic (thick) scars with a breast lift (mastopexy).  Breast skin however, because it is thinner than skin in other areas of the body, is not as likely to develop keloids.  The type of breast lift you need will also be a factor.  If you need an anchor-type incision which has a horizontal incision in the breast crease, this area is more likely to keloid.  The vertical incision is less likely to do so.  There are some good silicone gels and tapes that you can use to minimize your scarring.  Also steroid injections can sometimes be helpful at controlling your final scar.

Please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for more information and for a complete exam.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 410 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.