Do I need A Breast Lift Or Breast Reduction Procedure?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on September 26, 2017 7 Comments

breast lift vs breast reduction

When most people think about breast enhancement options they typically think of breast augmentation surgery. While there are many women who wish to increase the size of their breasts (breast augmentation continues to be the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the U.S.), there are also many women who seek to reduce or reposition their breasts without adding extra volume.

Many of these prospective patients come into our practice unsure if a breast lift or breast reduction surgery will accomplish their desired outcome.

Breast Reduction

Breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammoplasty, can instantly and effectively reduce breast size through the removal of excess breast tissue. Breast reduction is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue to reduce breast size, eliminating the negative issues associated with breasts that are larger than the patient desires.  Usually, the breast is lifted significantly and enlarged areolas are reduced.  The tissue removed can also be sent to a pathologist for breast cancer screening if the patient desires.

Breast Lift

Breast lift surgery, also called mastopexy, is a procedure to lift the breasts in order to rejuvenate a woman’s figure and provide a breast profile that is youthful in appearance. A breast lift raises and firms the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour. Sometimes the areola becomes enlarged over time, and a breast lift can reduce this as well.

Breast lift surgery results in breasts that are firmer, perkier, and higher on the chest. Depending on the severity of the lift, the body’s entire silhouette can be enhanced. Unlike breast reduction, however, breast lift procedures do not make the breasts significantly smaller (change in breast volume) as little to no breast tissue is removed.

Similar Benefits

While different in terms of results and approach, breast lift and breast reduction procedures share a number of advantages:

  • Both procedures are relatively routine and result in an instantly noticeable outcome
  • The majority of women who undergo either procedure report high levels of satisfaction and gains in self-confidence (according to Real Self)
  • Both procedures can help improve the posture
  • Breastfeeding is possible after either procedure
  • Scars resulting from either surgery can be placed in areas to reduce their visibility

Which procedure is right for me?

The first step in determining if a breast lift or reduction procedure is right for you is to identify the specific issue(s) that you are trying to address. That is, do you have an issue with the positioning of your breasts or their size/weight?

Regarding breast size, here are some simple questions that might determine if a breast reduction is the right surgery for you:

  • Do you feel your breasts are too large for your body?
  • Would you consider your breasts overly heavy?
  • Do you have posture issues?
  • Do you regularly experience shoulder, neck or back pain?
  • Do you experience a tingling sensation related to the weight of breasts pulling downward on your bra straps?
  • When wearing a bra for a short duration, do you have grooves or depressions along your shoulders?
  • Does your breast size limit physical activity?
  • Is your choice of clothing limited due to bust size?

“Yes” answers to any of the above questions usually indicate issues concerning size and breast reduction surgery may be a good procedure to consider.

The following questions may indicate breast positioning issues:

  • Do your nipples sit below your breast crease or do they point downward?
  • Are you unhappy with the positioning of your breasts and/or your bodies overall shape (silhouette)?
  • Do you experience skin laxity issues around the breasts?
  • Do you regularly experience rash or irritation under or between your breasts?

“Yes” answers to the above questions could indicate issues related to sagging of the breasts, in which case a breast lift procedure may be more viable.

Breast Lift + Breast Reduction

Some women may experience issues with both breast size and positioning (sagging). These patients may benefit most from a treatment plan that combines a reduction (tissue removal) and a lift (tissue repositioning).

Important: Consulting A Plastic Surgeon

While doing self-research is always great, nothing is as valuable as having an in-person consultation with a qualified Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Since every woman is unique (different in both anatomy and needs), consulting with a trained physician is really the only way to determine which procedure is right for your specific goals.

If you experience issues concerning the size or positioning of your breasts, contact us today for a free consultation.


Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

7 Responses to “Do I need A Breast Lift Or Breast Reduction Procedure?”

  1. Avatar Abel says:

    Great post, thanks so much for sharing. I shared this with my wife who is considering both a lift and augmentation procedure. She said it really helped 🙂

  2. Avatar Jocelyn says:

    My breast have always been too large for my tastes, and often cause me back issues, and I’m considering getting a reduction. Your article had some great information about different breast surgeries, and how they work, and I liked how you detailed the possible reasons a person should get breast reduction surgery. I’ve always had posture issues, always have back, should, and neck pain, and can only wear certain clothes due to my bust size, so according to your post, breast reduction surgery may be a good idea for me.

  3. Avatar Sherry says:

    After having my kids, I have noticed I don’t have the same bounce and skin texture on my chest as I used to, so I’m thinking I might need a lift. Thank you for the information about getting it done if there are issues with sagging breasts.

  4. Avatar Ting ting ting says:

    I was unhappy with my breasts and underwent breast augmentation after many years of thinking it over. It’s super worth it 🙂

  5. Avatar Tamira says:

    I think I need both..but I really need the lift

  6. Avatar Dr. Alavi says:

    I like how you explained that breast reduction is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess skin. I will share this article with patients!

  7. Avatar Ellie says:

    I got breast reduction a few years back and can honestly say it was a great decision. I no longer have back pain and my posture is improved. I also feel I can be more physically active without worry. Highly recommend

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