Breast Lift vs. Breast Reduction: Which One is Right For You?

Breast lift (mastopexy) and breast reduction surgery are both used to alter the size, shape, and position of the breasts. After having either of these operations, women notice that their breasts are rounder, perkier, and more symmetrical. Still, these two types of mammaplasty (breast surgery) are used to achieve very different objectives. Breast lift surgery is used primarily for cosmetic purposes, whereas breast reduction surgery is often required to improve the patient’s quality of life. In select cases, breast reduction surgery may be partially covered by health insurance, whereas breast lift surgery is totally cosmetic and not covered by insurance. If you’re not sure which of these procedures is right for you, the guide below will provide you with the information you need prior to booking a consultation.

Breast Lift vs. Breast Reduction Surgery

Patients sometimes get breast lift (mastopexy) and breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty) surgery confused because both operations require the removal of excessive stretched breastskin . However, the amount and type of tissue that’s removed during breast reduction surgery makes this procedure distinct from a breast lift.

During breast lift surgery, excess skin is carefully taken away from the underside of each breast and (if necessary) the areolae. A small amount of fat or glandular tissue may also be removed in order to refine the symmetry of the patient’s breasts, but this step isn’t always necessary. The primary purpose of mastopexy is to improve the shape and projection of the breasts by removing loose, stretched skin. During breast reduction surgery, on the other hand, skin, fat, and glandular tissue are removed simultaneously, reducing the size of the breasts. Breast reduction shrinks the patient’s breasts by one or more cup sizes with the aim of increasing her physical and emotional comfort.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for Breast Lift Surgery?

Breast lift surgery might be right for you if your breasts have become “droopy” or pendulous over time. This procedure is ideal for women who want to recreate a more youthful breast shape without making their breasts significantly smaller or larger.

Most women pursue breast lift surgery after weight loss, menopause, or pregnancy, as these events can all result in a loss of fatty breast tissue and a reduction in skin elasticity. The amount of breast skin we have generally remains unchanged even after internal volume is lost, which can make the breasts appear flat and deflated. Removing this excess skin is the only way to restore the firmness and roundness of the breasts; exercises and topical creams are limited in their effectiveness because they can’t address the underlying cause of breast ptosis (sagging). Breast lift surgery can also make the breasts more even and correct a stretched, enlarged areolae.

You should consider breast lift surgery if you fit any of the following criteria:

-Your breasts are more oblong in shape than round, or appear flat on top.

-One of your breasts hangs lower than the other.

-Your nipples point downwards or sit below the inframammary fold (the crease underneath each breast).

-If you place a pencil within your breast crease and elevate your arms, the pencil remains in place rather than falling to the floor.

After breast lift surgery, your breasts will be firmer, rounder, and perkier. Their improved contours will usually create more visible cleavage, even though your breasts will be about the same size they were prior to surgery.

Sometimes, women want to restore lost breast volume while also elevating the position of their breasts and improving their shape. If this describes you, you should be aware that Dr. Singer gives his patients the option of combining breast lift and breast augmentation surgery. This procedure, which is known as a combined mastopexy-augmentation, involves both the removal of excess skin, reshaping the breast tissueand the placement of silicone gel or saline breast implants. By having these steps combined into a single operation, you can reduce your total healing time and keep the cost of surgery manageable. When you visit us for a consultation, Dr. Singer will help you determine whether breast lift surgery or combined mastopexy-augmentation is the best procedure to fit your individual goals.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery treats macromastia (disproportionately large breasts) by reducing the total weight and size of the breasts. This procedure can also correct breast sagging and asymmetry and make the areolae smaller. However, its primary objective is to improve the patient’s comfort and quality of life.

Breast reduction surgery is the best choice for women who feel like their breasts are too large for their frame. Most women who pursue reduction mammaplasty have experienced physical pain related to the size of their breasts, but some women decide to have their breast size reduced for emotional or social reasons. This operation might be right for you if you’ve experienced any of the following problems:

-Chronic back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain that you believe is caused by the weight of your breasts.

-Skin irritation (such as rashes, soreness, or indentation) around your bra straps or band. The weight of large breasts often causes chafing around the bra area, which can become very painful over time.

-Unwanted attention. This may take the form of harassment or feeling like your professional opportunities are limited owing to the focus placed on your physique.

-Difficulty finding clothes that fit due to the size of your breasts.

-Inability to exercise without experiencing physical discomfort or feeling self-conscious.

-Being unable to find a comfortable sleeping position, or experiencing breathing problems during sleep, because your breasts put too much pressure on your chest.

Cases of advanced macromastia can lead to debilitating physical problems, including increased spinal curvature and nerve damage. Being unable to sleep or exercise comfortably also increases a woman’s risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a number of other health conditions. For these reasons, breast reduction surgery is sometimes considered medically necessary and therefore may be partially covered by health insurance. However, it’s important to review the terms of your individual insurance plan before you assume that you’re eligible for coverage. Many insurance providers require that patients have a history of documented health issues related to macromastia before they will cover the cost of breast reduction surgery. Your insurance provider may also ask you to pursue other treatment options before they will cover surgery. If you’re not eligible for insurance coverage, we can help you secure treatment more quickly via third party financing options like CareCredit.

What to Consider Before Having Breast Surgery

Though breast lift and breast reduction surgery are designed to accomplish different objectives, these operations are performed using similar techniques. (Generally, incisions are made around the areolae and down the front of the breasts and sometimes in the crease under the breasts to permit tissue removal.) As such, patients having either of these procedures need to follow similar steps before and after surgery.

The first thing you’ll need to review before having any form of breast surgery is your health. Breast lift and reduction candidates must be in good overall health and be non-smokers. You should also have a BMI that’s within the normal range and be within 10 pounds of your ideal weight before you pursue either a breast lift or reduction. The breasts contain a large amount of fatty tissue, so weight loss has the potential to greatly alter their shape and size. If you have excess skin removed surgically and then continue to lose weight, more excess skin may form, compromising the results of your operation. Achieving a healthy, stable weight is one of the best ways to ensure that you continue to enjoy the results of your breast lift or reduction for decades to come.

Finally, before you decide to have a breast lift or reduction, you should think about your future family plans. Pregnancy can cause the breasts to expand by up to three cup sizes, a process that stretches the skin and sometimes distorts the areolae. Most surgeons recommend waiting until after you’re done having children to have breast surgery, but ultimately, you should put your personal comfort first. If you’re experiencing physical pain due to macromastia and don’t plan on having children for several more years, for instance, you may want to have breast reduction surgery first.

In some cases, having a breast lift or reduction can interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed. This is more likely to be the case if a large amount of tissue is being removed or the areolae are being significantly altered. If you want to breastfeed your future children, you should discuss your desires with Dr. Singer. He’ll let you know whether or not your procedure can be personalized to preserve your ability to breastfeed.

Planning for Recovery

The length of the recovery period that follows breast lift or reduction depends largely on how much tissue is removed during surgery. For this reason, breast reduction surgery generally has a slightly longer recovery time than breast lift surgery. (The one exception being minor liposuction-only breast reductions.) Both of these procedures are very safe, however, and healthy patients very rarely experience any complications during or after surgery.

Most patients who have a breast lift feel better within seven to ten days, whereas breast reduction recovery may take up to two weeks. After either of these operations, minor swelling and redness can persist for up to four weeks. We usually recommend that patients having any form of breast surgery take at least two weeks off work and avoid strenuous activities for three to six weeks.

Any discomfort that occurs after breast surgery can be managed with rest and pain medication. Patients who follow proper aftercare protocols usually have an easy recovery and experience only minimal soreness. Many women report feeling a great deal of physical and emotional relief soon after surgery, too. Women who have had breast reduction surgery feel physically lighter and usually enjoy immediate relief from their chronic back and neck pain. Breast lift patients say they feel younger and more confident as soon as they see how much their contours have improved.

Arrange a Breast Surgery Consultation in La Jolla

The long-term benefits of breast reduction and breast lift surgery can be life-changing. Both of these operations have very high rates of patient satisfaction (over 90% of all patients report being very happy with the results of their lift or reduction), and breast reduction surgery is associated with significant improvements in the patient’s physical and mental health. As long as you choose the right procedure to meet your needs and work with a board-certified plastic surgeon, you’ll enjoy the results of your procedure—and your newfound confidence and sense of freedom—for the rest of your life. If you’re ready to learn more about breast lift or breast reduction surgery, contact board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Singer to arrange a personal consultation.


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