A common misconception among breast augmentation patients is that their implants will “fill in” any loose skin and give their breasts a fuller, perkier appearance. This can be true in cases where a patient is experiencing minor sagging, but most of the time, the added weight will only pull the breasts down further and exacerbate sagging. What most of those women need, instead, is a breast lift, either with or without implants.
This guide will dive into the “breast lift vs. implants” debate to help you understand the differences between the two and know when one may be more appropriate than the other.
What Is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift, formally called a mastopexy, is a breast enhancement procedure that “lifts” the positioning of the breasts on the chest wall. It addresses the sagging and excess skin caused by pregnancy, nursing, weight loss, and the effects of gravity as we get older.
During the procedure, loose, stretched skin is tightened and trimmed, the breast tissue is consolidated and reshaped, and the breasts and nipples are raised to a more youthful positioning. In some cases, women with enlarged areolas may also have thesm reduced to be more proportionate to the breasts.
What Can’t a Breast Lift Do?
A breast lift cannot add volume to the breasts. Many women even find that after their mastopexy procedure, their breasts are slightly smaller now that the loose skin no longer takes up extra space in their bra cups.
Although a breast lift reshapes the tissue of the breasts to create a perkier result, it still adheres to the natural teardrop slope of the breasts. Women seeking a rounded breast shape with upper pole fullness (cleavage) will likely need breast augmentation to achieve their desired look.
What Is a Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation cosmetically enhances the size, shape, and forward projection of the breasts in a fully customizable procedure. Our patients can choose between two breast augmentation options: saline or silicone implants, or augmentation using the patient’s own unwanted body fat.
Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons will work closely with you to design your ideal breasts, keeping in mind your unique anatomy, activity and fitness levels, and whether you are done growing your family.
Our breast augmentation patients enjoy extensive flexibility when choosing their implants’:
- Size (these can differ between breasts to correct existing asymmetry)
- Filler material (sterile saline solution or silicone gel)
- Projection (low, medium, or high)
- Shape (round or anatomical/teardrop)
- Surface (smooth or textured)
- Placement (above or behind the chest wall)
What Can’t Breast Augmentation Do?
Not every cosmetic breast concern can be addressed with breast augmentation alone. Why might a patient want to (also) choose a breast lift? No implants can correct sagging and skin laxity—and may only add to the problem! Fortunately, women don’t have to decide between one procedure or the other.
Breast Augmentation Vs. Lift: Why Not Both?
As you can see in the above before and after images, a combined breast enhancement procedure, such as a breast augmentation with a breast lift, can achieve the most comprehensive cosmetic improvements.
In a combination procedure, the plastic surgeon will tighten loose skin and remove excess tissue. They will raise and reshape the breasts, reposition the nipples, and reduce the areolas (if necessary). The surgeon will further enhance the breasts by inserting the implants—or autologous fat that has been harvested and purified—to create the desired volume and shape.
Why should you combine breast enhancement procedures? Our patients benefit from having multiple cosmetic concerns addressed with one surgery and recovery period, making it a much more cost and time-effective option.
However, not every patient needs both procedures to achieve their aesthetic goals. When might you choose a breast lift on its own? Mastopexy surgery is great for correcting:
- Sagging breasts
- Downturned nipples
- Enlarged areolas
- Stretched, loose skin
What about a breast augmentation? Performed on its own, this procedure can address the following:
- “Deflated” breasts after breastfeeding
- Asymmetry or misshapenness
- Breasts that are not proportionate to your frame
- A loss of fullness in the upper part of the breasts (i.e., cleavage)
Our related blog post can help you determine which breast enhancement surgery is right for you. In addition, you may enjoy viewing our before and after photo galleries to see our real patient results.
As pregnancy and nursing can significantly impact the appearance of your breasts and undo the cosmetic benefits of surgery, we may advise you to wait until after your family is complete before scheduling any type of breast enhancement procedure.
Please note that plastic surgery on the breasts will not have any bearing on your fertility. However, in rare cases, breast surgery can affect your ability to produce milk and breastfeed. Planning ahead—if having children further down the line is a possibility—with your surgeon can help you enjoy the best surgical and lifestyle outcomes.