Breast Lift or Breast Implants: Choosing the Right Procedure
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2018, 313,735 Americans had breast augmentation surgery. That’s up 48% since the year 2000.
In 2018, 109,638 Americans got a breast lift. That number rose 108% since 2000.
In fact, over the past decade, plastic surgery as a whole has increased by 98%. Out of them, at least one quarter are non-Caucasian.
While both breast lifts and breast augmentation are popular surgeries, which one you choose depends on a few key factors. If you’re having trouble deciding, keep reading.
We’re sharing with you the differences between a breast lift vs breast augmentation.
What a Breast Lift Is
A breast lift is a good choice if, after having children, and weight loss, or simply through the process of aging, your breasts begin to sag. Drooping breasts is known as breast ptosis.
There may not be implants involved with breast lifts. Instead, the surgeon may just manipulates the existing breast tissue to tighten and lift the breast.
The result is your breasts have a more natural contour along with improvements with any signs of dropping or sagging. Breast lifts can also help correct mild asymmetry you may be experiencing.
Who It’s For
Breast lifts are a great choice for women looking to restore some of the youthfulness of their breasts. Women end up with a natural look and feel to their breasts, making it a good choice for those with good amounts of natural breast tissue.
It’s a good choice for women looking to have perkier, firmer, and more youthful breasts. It will not, however, increase the cup size of your breasts nor will it increase the fullness of the top of your breasts.
Types of Breast Lifts
There are three main types of breast lifts to choose from:
- Periareolar incision
- Vertical breast lift
- Inverted-T incisions
A periareolar incision follows the natural shape of the areolar. It’s best for women with large areolas who only have minimal breast drooping they want to be improved.
Vertical Breast Reduction
Vertical breast lift incisions start out similarly to periareolar incisions in that it follows the same path around the areola. However, it then extends directly down from the areola which allows for a greater lift.
This is for women with large areolas who have experienced more moderate drooping.
The inverted-T also follows the same path as the periareolar and vertical breast incisions but it also includes another incision within the fold of the breast.
Inverted-T incisions are the most common type of breast lift since they most predictable create the perkiest breasts. They are best for women who have experienced moderate to severe breast sagging. This procedure allows for the maximum breast lift.
All three lifts can include a breast implant to add volume. In absence of a breast implant, fat injections too may provide more fullness along with the breast lift.
Breast augmentation and breast implants are basically the same procedure. Both involve placing a saline or silicone implant under the breast.
This is done to enhance the volume, size, and shape of the women’s breasts. Some breast augmentations also include fat transfers but it’s a less common option.
Requirements for Breast Augmentation Surgery
Patients must be in good health and meet minimum age requirements. All breast implants are FDA-approved.
Who It’s For
Most women who opt for breast augmentation surgery do so to increase the overall size of their breasts. This procedure is also recommended for patients wishing to increase breast volume or enhance their breast shape.
Women who have experienced either significant weight loss and/or childbirth often opt for breast augmentation surgery.
The End Result
The end result depends on a variety of factors such as the:
- Shape of your body
- Size of breast implants
- Shape of breast implants
- Material used for breast implants
Most women find their bras and clothes fit better. They also report their self-confidence boosting.
Types of Breast Augmentation
The three most common incisions for breast augmentation include:
- Inframammary (under the fold of the breast)
- Trans-axillary (in the armpit)
- Periareolar (around the nipple)
Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages though an inframammary incision hides surgical scarring, has the fewest complications, and gives the doctor optimal access to the breast tissue.
Choosing Implant Size and Shape
You have options when it comes to the size and shape of your implants. You and your doctor will consider the following factors:
- Body form
- Chest wall shape
- Natural foundation
- Your goals
Your surgeon will discuss with you which size and shape will look best on you and leave you satisfied with the result. Most surgeons recommend not going up more than two bra cup sizes.
Otherwise, the size may overwhelm your chest in terms of width, diameter, and appearance. But there are always exceptions to the rules. Risks must aways be weighed against the benefits.
Types of Implants
Whether you choose silicone versus saline depends on the results, preference, and your body type.
Silicone implants are usually more expensive. They also require a a larger incision since the implants come prefilled, unlike saline implants..
However, the end result is a more natural feel and are best for patients with little natural breast tissue.
Those with ample breast tissue may be more suited for saline implants. Saline can add volume and improve shape just as well as silicone. However, saline tends to feel more firm.
Whether you choose silicone or saline, both are FDA approved, have excellent safety records, and last between ten and fifteen years or more.
Breast Lift Vs Implants or Both
You don’t have to choose between breast augmentation and a breast lift. It’s becoming very popular for women to combine both procedures.
Women who have had children benefit the most from combining procedures. Many women experience a loss of volume and shape after giving birth and breastfeeding.
What to Expect During Surgery
Make sure to ask your doctor as many questions as you need before you head into surgery. The FDA provides a list of questions to help ensure you get all the answers you need in order to feel comfortable.
Before the Surgery
Before the surgery begins, you’ll have an IV line put into your arm or hand. This IV will deliver fluids and medicines.
The medicine keeps you free from pain during surgery. Usually, it’s general anesthesia which puts you into a deep sleep-like state.
You may also have a tube inserted into your throat to help you breathe. Sedation is also possible.
The procedure is slightly different for a breast lift vs breast augmentation.
If you’re getting a breast lift, the surgeon will make incisions around your breast. He or she will move the breast tissue higher on the chest.
The breast skin is tightened to hold the tissue into position. Excess skin is removed while the areola and nipple are moved higher on the breast.
The areola is then stitched into place. Your surgeon will then repeat the process on your other breast.
For breast augmentation surgery, your doctor will form a pocket to hold the implant. This will be done either below or above your chest muscle.
She or he will then insert the implant through the incision and into the pocket. Next, the implant is positioned.
Your surgeon will repeat the process on your other breast if both are being treated.
Both Procedures Involve Having the Incisions Closed
After the procedure is done, the incisions are closed with stitches and/or surgical glue. You may have a tube (drain) placed into an incision to drain excess fluid that may build up as the healing process begins.
You’re then taken to a room to wake up from the effects of the anesthesia. Some patients report feeling nauseated and sleepy.
Your throat may feel sore if a breathing tube was used. They’ll give you medicine to control pain.
Some patients are required to stay overnight while others can leave with an adult friend or family member.
At Home Recovery
Always follow any instructions you’re given. You’ll need time to let your body rest and heal.
Always wear the special bandage or bra your doctor gave you. Take any prescribed medicines as directed.
Avoid Bathing and Using Lotions
Carefully follow instructions to care for your incisions and dressings. Bathe according to guidelines and avoid taking baths, swimming or using a hot tub.
Gently wash your incisions when showering and then pat them dry. Avoid using oils, lotions or creams until fully healed.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Take care to keep your arms lower than breast level for 10 days. Avoid lifting, pulling or pushing any items heavier than 10 pounds for seven days.
Do not drive until you’re off your pain medications and your doctor has approved you to drive. If you ride in a car, carefully position the seatbelt so your breasts aren’t compressed.
How to Treat Swelling
Swelling may last between three and five weeks. If your doctor approves, you can use a cold pack wrapped in a thin towel to help alleviate discomfort and control swelling.
Do not leave the ice pack on for longer than 20 minutes to avoid damaging your skin. Then leave the ice pack off for at least 20 minutes. You may repeat as often as needed until swelling recedes.
When to Call Your Doctor
- A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- Extreme swelling, chest pain or experience difficulty breathing
- Bleeding or drainage through your bandages
- Signs of infection
We’re One of the Top Cosmetic Surgeons
Always look for the best plastic surgeons in California to get your breast lift or breast augmentation done. We’re one of the top 10 Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeons.
And we’re here to help you look and feel your best. Click here to contact us to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Tim Neavin is a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Beverly Hills, California.