There is more than one way to improve the appearance of the bust. While most people associate breast surgery with breast implants or breast augmentation surgery, there is another technique to enhance the silhouette and that is breast lift surgery. The procedure involves tightening the skin and the tissue surrounding the breast muscles, enhancing the breasts’ natural contour and improving droopiness.
While both surgeries can be categorized as breast enhancement procedures, each has some unique characteristics in terms of what it fixes, how it is performed and how the end-results look like. This blog post aims to shed some light on the differences between breast lift and breast implants surgery so that you can make a sound decision based on your needs and expectations.
While most people associate breast surgery with breast implants or breast augmentation surgery, there is more than one way to enhance the silhouette.
Quick facts about the two procedures
- While breast implants surgery primarily focuses on the enlargement and firmness of the breasts, breast lift surgery addresses the droopiness.
- Both procedures are carried out in similar ways. They can only be different regarding the location of the incisions.
- Breast lift surgery has more natural results, both to the eye and the touch. To get more dramatic results, you should opt for breast implants.
- Breast lift surgery is ideal for women whose breasts already have enough volume and tissue, to begin with.
- You can have a breast lift and breast augmentation at the same time.
- Breast implants surgery can slightly lift your breasts. To address moderate to severe breast sagging, you should have breast lift surgery.
An overview of breast lift and breast augmentation
Traditionally, women who wanted to transform the look of their breast or achieve a more youthful appearance would opt for breast augmentation using implants. Yet for some people, the size wasn’t an issue. They were only bothered by how their breasts sagged due to aging, weight loss, breastfeeding or simply gravity. So, plastic surgeons began developing techniques to lift the breasts without adding volume. The procedure is known as breast lift or mastopexy. While breast augmentation focuses on the shape and size of the breasts, breast lift surgery addresses the breasts’ droopiness without significantly modifying their volume.
Learn more about breast lift: 8 things to know about mastopexy
How do breast lift and breast implants procedures differ?
- Breast implants: The procedure involves placing saline or silicone implants either behind the breast’s tissue or underneath the muscles. The incisions through which the implants are inserted can be made under the crease of the breast (inframammary), in the armpit (trans-axillary) or around the areola (peri-areolar). The type or size of the implants can also vary. The procedure will be performed in 1 to 2 hours while the patient is under general anesthesia. It might take longer if a breast lift is needed as well.
- Breast lift: As opposed to breast implants surgery which involves augmenting the breasts, breast lift surgery involves removing the excess skin and reshaping the breast tissue. The surgeon may also reposition the nipple and areola to create a more protruding and forward look. The incisions can be made halfway around the edge of the areola (crescent lift), running around the areola (peri-areolar lift), include a vertical incision or be a combination of all. The surgery takes about 3 hours and is usually performed under general anesthesia.
Breast implants vs. breast lift recovery
- Breast implants: The recovery process for breast augmentation lasts about 6 weeks. Immediately after the procedure, you may experience some dizziness as a result of the anesthesia. Pain can be managed using pain killers and usually, you will be discharged from the hospital on the same day.
In some cases, drainage tubes need to be attached to the breasts. You may also be advised to wear a surgical bra while healing. Depending on whether the stitches are dissolvable or not, you may have to visit the doctor’s office to have them removed. In about a week, you can get back to your daily routine activities. However, strenuous activities should be avoided for at least 5 to 6 weeks after the surgery. To learn more, read our comprehensive breast augmentation recovery guide.
- Breast lift: Recovering from breast lift surgery is almost similar to that of breast augmentation except it is about a few days shorter. However, it is more likely that you will have small tubes attached to your breasts to drain excess fluid. Manageable pain, soreness, and discomfort are expected for a week after the surgery.
Often, dissolvable stitches are used. Other times, they need to be removed in the doctor’s office. As with breast implants recovery, a surgical bra is usually needed. Most patients can get back to their normal activities in a week. But you should avoid activities that target the chest area (e.g. golf, tennis, etc.) for 4 to 6 weeks.
Results after breast lift vs breast augmentation
The breast lift procedure transforms your droopy breasts into pert and youthful breasts. You can see the perky results immediately after the surgery. The sagging will be diminished, the nipple area will be repositioned, and you will be able to see a more youthful breast contour and upright look. Although the results can meet the needs of women who already have full yet droopy breasts, breast lift surgery cannot increase your cup size on its own.
The final results of breast augmentation surgery vary depending on the type, size, and placement of the implants. Generally, you will end up with a fuller and more appealing bust. You will also realize that your clothes fit better and you can see the “side boob” you’ve always wanted. Usually, breast implant surgery can also slightly lift your breasts. In extreme cases of droopiness, however, additional breast lift surgery might be required.
How natural are the results after the two procedures?
If done appropriately, both breast lift and breast implant can yield natural results. Yet, breast lift surgery can offer a subtler and more natural look. Think of breast lift surgery as a way to reverse time and restore the firmness of your breasts without making too many alterations. The results of the surgery will also feel more natural as it is your own breast tissue and not an external implant.
Although some women seek breast implants to achieve dramatic results, breast implant surgery can offer natural results too. Some implants such as the gummy bear implant resemble the natural shape of the breasts and won’t be spotted easily. Also, how the implant is positioned can determine how natural the results will appear.
Another determining factor is choosing an implant size that is proportionate to your overall body. During the consultation session with your surgeon, you can mention how natural you want the results to be and they will offer the most suitable solution based on your natural figure.
How long the results will last in each procedure?
The firmness and volume offered by saline and silicone breast implants can last for more than 10 to 20 years. Breast implants do not really expire. They are only replaced if they rupture or deflate, and the most recent implants are really durable. You can annually examine your breasts and implants to know if they need replacement.
The perky results of a mastopexy (breast lift) can last for a long time. Unless you decide to give birth or lose a significant amount of weight, the final results of the breast lift procedure can be maintained. Keep in mind that even after mastopexy, gravity is still doing its job and giving birth can impact the results. Having a healthy lifestyle, strengthening your chest muscles, and avoiding weight fluctuations can help retain the positive outcome of the surgery.
Scarring after breast lift vs breast implants surgery
Both breast lift and breast augmentation surgery involve making incisions. These incisions are usually followed by scars. However, the location of them is very well hidden. Most patients report that no one ever realized they have gone through the surgery. The severity of the scars depends on how and where the incisions are made.
Usually, breast implants surgery involves making an incision in the fold of the breast (inframammary) while during breast lift, the surgeon might make a lollipop-shaped incision.
As breast augmentation surgery rarely require vertical incisions, it might leave a subtler scar than a breast lift. During breast implant surgery, the surgeon makes the incisions in one of the following areas:
- in the fold of the breasts
- in the armpit
- around the areola
Based on the severity of the sagging and whether areola repositioning is needed, the surgeon performs a breast lift procedure by making one of the following incisions or a combination of them:
- halfway around the edge of the areola (crescent lift)
- around the areola (doughnut incision)
- around the areola and a vertical line down to the crease (lollipop incision)
- around the areola, a vertical line up to the crease, and one in the breast fold (anchor)
Periareolar (around the areola) scar is the least visible scar. Yet regardless of how these incisions are made, they can easily be covered in a crop top. Also, you can always minimize the scarring by avoiding sunlight and smoking, applying creams, and taking vitamin E.
Risks and complications: which surgery is safer?
As with any other type of surgery, both breast augmentation and breast lift surgery might be followed by some risks and complications. Breast lift surgery has a lower risk of complications. Because in addition to possible surgical complications, breast implants surgery can be followed by complications related to the implants, including:
- Implants movement
- Capsular contracture
- Implants rupture
Nowadays, a majority of implants are FDA-approved and 100% safe. You can perfectly ensure the safety of your breast implants by going under the knife of a board-certified and highly experienced plastic surgeon.
Candidacy: should I have breast implants or lift?
Finding the right breast enhancement procedure can be a tricky job. Breasts come in all shapes and sizes and you probably have your unique needs and expectations. That’s why a plastic surgeon is your most reliable source to figure out which procedure is right for you. Meanwhile, you can check out this cheat sheet to quickly grasp the basic knowledge you need for the decision.
|My breasts are severely sagging
|I want bigger breasts
|My breasts are too asymmetrical
|I want bigger cleavage
|I want more natural results
|I need enhancement, not volume
|I want firm breasts
|I’ve had significant weight-loss
|My nipples point downward
|I am doing it because of someone else
||None! make sure you are not going under the knife only because someone else expects you to or you are bullied for your appearance. There is nothing wrong with having cosmetic surgery as long as you are doing it for yourself and not to please others.
Quick test: How much sagging is too much sagging?
Pick a pen and place it right in the fold of your breasts. Adjust the pen so that you can spot it under your breast. Asses the severity of your breast sagging by checking the position of the pen in relation to your nipple:
- The pen is lower than your nipple: Your breasts are not drooping.
- The pen is exactly under your nipple: You have minor sagging. Breast implants surgery can usually do the job.
- The pen is higher than your nipple: You have severe sagging. Your nipple needs to be lifted back up with breast lift surgery.
There is a procedure called augmentation-lift which combines the two procedures for a more comprehensive result. If you want full breasts and your nipples are pointing downwards too, augmentation-mastopexy surgery can result in the most desirable outcome. You can ask your plastic surgeon if the combination can be an option for you.
Breast lift vs. breast implants cost
You are probably wondering which procedure is more expensive. As a matter of fact, the costs of the two procedures do not significantly differ. In the US, the cost of breast augmentation falls between $8,000 to $15,000 and breast lift surgery costs about $9,000 and $16,000. So, we suggest that you select a procedure that meets your needs regardless of the price.
How can I get a breast lift or breast augmentation at a lower price?
You can have both procedures done in Iran. Iranian plastic surgeons are globally renowned for their vast experience and unique expertise. Yet, the country’s economic situations have made it an exceedingly affordable destination for breast surgery- or any kind of surgery for that matter! Check out the cost of breast augmentation and lift procedures in Iran:
- Breast implants cost: $2500 to $4500
- Breast lift cost: $2500 to $4500
- Augmentation-lift cost: $3000 to $5000
Breast lift vs. breast augmentation popularity
According to the recent studies by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), breast lift surgery procedures are outpacing breast implant surgeries. That said, breast implants surgery is still the most performed breast enhancement procedure in the world. In fact, it is the second most performed plastic surgery.
Is it risky to get both breast augmentation and breast lift surgeries at the same time?
Not at all. The procedures are quite similar and the surgeon can perform both procedures through the same incisions. But the more experience the surgeon has, the better he or she can handle the augmentation with lift and the more satisfactory the results will be.
Does breast augmentation or lift affect my breastfeeding?
It depends on the techniques that are used throughout the surgery. Usually, breast surgery does not limit breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding can have negative effects on the result of the surgery. You can discuss this more thoroughly with your plastic surgeon.
Do breasts sag after breast lift or breast augmentation?
Some lifestyle habits, pregnancy, breastfeeding or weight fluctuations can affect your breast lift or augmentation results and lead to breast sagging.
Read more: How to prevent breast sagging?
Can I get pregnant after breast implants or breast lifting?
You can get pregnant after a breast augmentation or breast lift surgery. The result of the surgery, however, will be negatively affected.
Breast augmentation and breast lift surgery are two different procedures with each having its set of pros and cons. When in doubt, you should write down your current issues as well as what you expect from the surgery and seek professional advice.
For any medical or cosmetic procedure, the first step is having a medical consultation with an expert. Take the first step by scheduling a consultation with our team. Consulting with us is free of charge and you will get the answer you are looking for and more information about breast lift and breast implants surgery. If you wish, we can also provide you with a comprehensive medical-trip plan tailored to your needs.