What’s the Difference Between Breast Lift and Breast Augmentation?

There are various reasons to undergo cosmetic breast surgeries like a breast lift or breast augmentation. Some women desire an increase in the projection or volume of their breasts. Others want their clothes to fit better. Yet others are looking to restore lost volume after weight loss or pregnancy. And some choose to have aesthetic breast procedures to balance their figure and improve symmetry.

Whatever the reason, breast procedures are some of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the United States. An estimated 300,000 women undergo breast augmentation, and more than 100,000 women undergo breast lift procedures each year.

What is the difference between a breast lift and breast augmentation? And how do you know which is the right choice for you? In this article, we talk about the different types of cosmetic breast surgeries and their advantages and disadvantages.

What Are the Different Types of Breast Surgery?

Surgery on the breasts (also known as mammoplasty) is divided into the following general categories:

  • Breast lift or mastopexy is performed to raise sagging breasts and make them perkier.
  • Breast augmentation or augmentation mammoplasty is performed to increase the size of the breasts and improve symmetry.
  • Breast reduction or reduction mammoplasty is performed in women with large, heavy breasts to reduce neck and shoulder pain.
  • Breast reconstruction is performed after mastectomy (breast removal) treatment of breast cancer.

What is a Breast Lift?

Normal aging often leads to ptosis (sagging) of the breasts. Also, pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause the breasts to become smaller and looser with stretched skin. A breast lift (mastopexy) is a cosmetic breast surgery that addresses these problems. It is done to lift the position of the nipple, reshape the breasts, and make the breasts firmer and perkier. The goal of a breast lift is to raise sagging breasts and improve the contour, shape, projection, and symmetry of the breasts.

A breast lift is done using different techniques and various types of incisions. A consultation with one of our plastic surgeons will help provide guidance as to which technique will best fit your needs.  Generally, speaking most patients will need to wear a surgical bra for several weeks.

Advantages of a Breast Lift

Following a breast lift, your breasts will appear perkier and more youthful because the sagging will be corrected. Your clothes will fit better, especially if you had a loss of breast volume after weight loss or childbirth.

Another advantage of a breast lift is that the surgical scars are hidden when wearing a bathing suit or low cut shirt. Furthermore, sensation is preserved in the nipple and areola for the majority of patients, and you can breastfeed after a breast lift.

Disadvantages of a Breast Lift

The main disadvantage of a breast lift is that the effects can gradually fade over time due to age and gravity. Unfortunately, we are still bound by the laws of physics, and gravity has a way of affecting our physical appearance as we age.  Also, because this is a surgical procedure, there are going to be surgical scars from the procedure.  This is why it is very important to choose your surgeon carefully as not all medical providers are as skilled as plastic surgeons when creating and concealing an incision.

What is a Breast Augmentation? 

Breast augmentation is done to increase the size of the breasts or change their shape. It’s commonly called a “boob job.” The procedure involves either a fat transfer or placement of an implant under the chest muscle or behind the breast tissue. A breast implant is a breast-shaped container filled with saline (saltwater) or silicone (a thick, sticky gel that closely resembles the texture of human fat). The goal of breast augmentation is to make the breasts larger and/or more symmetric.

Breast augmentation is an outpatient procedure that is mostly performed under general anesthesia. You can go home after the anesthesia wears off. You’ll have a bulky gauze dressing wrapped around your breasts, and you will most likely need to wear a surgical bra for a few weeks.

Advantages of Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is a long-term solution for women who want larger, more youthful-looking breasts. The scars from an augmentation mammoplasty are usually not visible and fade considerably in the year following surgery.

Disadvantages of Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation involves the placement of implants, which need to be monitored regularly and may need to be replaced in the future.  However, as long as the implants are performing as expected, there are few reasons to undergo another surgery for replacement.  A small percentage of the time, a patient might experience a loss of sensation in their nipples.  Again, this is why it is imperative to choose a legitimate plastic surgeon.

Breast Lift or Breast Augmentation: Which is the Right Choice for Me? 

To know which procedure might be more suitable for you – breast lift or breast augmentation – read the following statements. If your issues include the following, a breast lift may be right for you:

  • I feel my breasts have drooped and sagged with age.
  • My breasts have become pendulous after pregnancy.
  • I lost a significant amount of weight, and my breasts have sagged as a result.
  • I’m happy with the size of my breasts, but I’d like them to be perkier and firmer.
  • The area around my nipple and areola has become stretched.
  • My nipple and areola point down instead of straight.
  • My nipple and areola are located below the breast crease (the lower border of the breast where it meets the chest).

If the following statements are true, a breast augmentation may be the right choice:

  • My breasts are too small. I’d like to be one or two sizes bigger.
  • I like the shape of my breasts, I don’t have droop, but I want fuller, larger breasts.
  • I feel self-conscious in a swimsuit or low-cut clothing.
  • My clothes fit well at the hips but hang loose at the bust.
  • I lost breast volume after childbirth and would like to regain it.
  • One of my breasts looks considerably smaller than the other.

Your plastic surgeon will help you decide the most appropriate procedure – breast lift or breast augmentation – to achieve your aesthetic goals. You may even be a candidate for a combination of breast lift and breast augmentation.

You’ve already taken the first step for a successful outcome from cosmetic breast surgery by becoming educated about the difference between breast augmentation and breast lift. For the best results, communicate your goals clearly to your surgeon in terms of the size and shape of the breasts you desire.