Large, full breasts are often considered ideal for women seeking breast enhancement. But sometimes, voluptuousness can be more of a curse than a blessing! Women seeking more proportionate, elevated breasts may be considering a breast lift vs. a breast reduction and wondering which one would suit them best.
This guide will cover both procedures in depth, including the treatment and recovery process, the results that can be expected, and who is a good candidate for each.
What Is a Breast Lift?
A breast lift (mastopexy) is a cosmetic breast enhancement procedure to counteract sagging due to pregnancy, weight fluctuations, the aging process, or other genetic and lifestyle factors.
During the procedure, your plastic surgeon will:
- Remove breast tissue that has stretched or become redundant
- Tighten the surrounding skin
- Reposition the breasts higher on the chest wall
- Reduce the areola (if needed) to be more proportionate to the breasts
- Raise downturned nipples and adjust their placement
Patients may need to size down their bras following a breast lift as their tighter, reshaped breasts take up less space in the cups. However, the change in overall volume is often slim. Women seeking a more substantial decrease in breast size may be better suited to a breast reduction.
What Is a Breast Reduction?
A breast reduction procedure can be both cosmetically and medically motivated. Overly large breasts can be a significant source of physical and emotional discomfort, from back and shoulder pain to migraines, ill-fitting clothes, and self-consciousness.
There’s even a medical term for the condition: macromastia. Women with macromastia experience chronic pain and disruptions to their daily routines (such as their ability to exercise or tolerate wearing a bra) as a direct result of their breast size.
Fortunately, a breast reduction can offer much-needed relief by making the breasts smaller and more proportionate to the woman’s body. The plastic surgeon accomplishes this by:
- Removing excess tissue at the bottom of the breasts
- Tightening the skin
- Reshaping the breasts
- Repositioning the nipples
Most women will notice an immediate improvement in their physical symptoms as the excess weight and strain on their musculoskeletal system are alleviated.
Does a Breast Reduction Include a Lift?
Although these two procedures can be performed separately, for women with large, hanging breasts, a combined reduction and lift procedure can be the perfect way to achieve their cosmetic goals.
The plastic surgeon will remove the unnecessary tissue and sculpt the breasts to be firmer and rounder. They will also address skin laxity, make the areolas smaller (if needed), and reposition the breasts and the nipples to a more youthful placement.
Which Procedure Is Right for Me?
When deciding whether a breast lift, breast reduction, or combined procedure is right for you, it may be helpful to consider what you find cosmetically dissatisfying about your breasts and how much they interfere with your daily life.
Good Breast Lift Candidates
Breast lift-only candidates may be experiencing:
- Sagging, stretched breasts
- Skin laxity
- Loss of volume, notably in the upper breasts
- Downturned nipples
Good Breast Reduction Candidates
Candidates who are well-suited for breast reduction often experience:
- Chronic pain or discomfort (particularly in the back, neck, and shoulders)
- Restrictions on their ability to exercise or engage in other activities
- Intertrigo, a rash caused when skin rubs together, under the breasts (aka the inframammary fold)
- Heavy breasts that droop or hang asymmetrically
- Self-consciousness regarding their breast size
Good Candidates for a Combination Procedure
Some women may benefit most from combining their breast lift with a breast reduction. These patients may be seeking to:
- Make their breasts more proportionate to their frame
- Elevate the breasts so they don’t hang or rub against the inframammary fold
- Reshape and reposition the nipples and areolas
- Restore or redistribute breast volume for more pleasing contours
Breast lifts and reductions at Weiler Plastic Surgery utilize a lollipop-shaped incision. Dr. Weiler, Dr. Womac, or I will carefully trace the circumference of the areola and make an additional incision from the bottom of the areola to the inframammary fold.
The circular incision naturally blends into the areola and is very discreet, while the vertical incision will lighten and fade with time until it is barely noticeable. Scarring is vital to the healing process, but our plastic surgeons make every effort to minimize their cosmetic impact.
How Long Is Recovery?
During recovery from a breast lift or breast reduction, you’ll typically need about a week before returning to school and work. You can usually reintroduce strenuous exercise after 6 weeks.
During your follow-up appointments (usually within the first 2 days and 1 to 2 weeks after surgery), your surgeon will check your healing progress, change or remove your dressings and sutures, answer any questions, and make sure that you are following your post-operative instructions.
Swelling, bruising, and decreased nipple sensation are common after these breast surgeries but are temporary symptoms that should resolve in the following days and weeks. The appearance of your scars will also continue to improve until they blend near-seamlessly with the surrounding skin.
Breast Lift and Breast Reduction Results
Breast enhancement procedures such as breast lifts and breast reductions create beautiful, natural-looking results.
Breast reductions scale the size of the breasts to fit the patient’s body better and help her reclaim her well-being and confidence. Check out our gallery of before-and-after photos to see more incredible breast reduction results.
Breast lifts also give patients a boost—not just physically but emotionally as well. Having perkier, shapelier breasts can help our patients feel more feminine and youthful. Breast lifts can be especially reaffirming for women seeking a return to their pre-pregnancy bodies.