Do I Need A Breast Lift or Breast Augmentation?

Written by WD Staff, Skin Care Specialists on June 17, 2014 10 Comments

breast lift main image

We frequently consult with women who have experienced undesirable changes in their breasts over time, usually after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many women undergo breast volume loss (postpartum atrophy) and drooping (ptosis) after these life events. This means that the breast tissues stretch, thin out, and the nipple position can gradually descend.  For these reasons, many patients desire increased fullness, improved breast shape, or both.  Breast lift, or mastopexy, is designed to improve breast appearance by removing excess skin and reshaping the breast tissue.  Breast augmentation is designed to restore lost volume.

Will You Need A Breast Lift, Breast Augmentation, Or Both?

Assessing your nipple/areola position will give you an idea if you should have a discussion about breast lift surgery with your plastic surgeon.

If the nipple is positioned above the breast fold (inframammary fold), then it is less likely that a lift will be recommended.  If the nipple is at the level of the breast fold (Grade 1 in the below image), then a lift may or may not be recommended depending on your goals.  If the nipple is below the breast fold (Grade 2 in the below image), then it is more likely that a lift will significantly improve the appearance of your breasts.

breast lift chart

It may be possible to slightly raise the nipple position with an augmentation alone.  This will have to be determined by your plastic surgeon after he/she examines you.

Since breast tissue descends over time, the upper portion of the breast can end up with less breast volume than is desired.  If this is the case, then a breast implant will likely be recommended to fill out this area.

It is important to be aware that a breast lift alone will not restore lost volume.  Therefore if you desire increased breast size, then an augmentation should be considered.

How Is Breast Lift Surgery Performed?

There are several techniques, depending on the patient’s breast anatomy and her goals.  I will discuss the nuances of each procedure in a future post. However, to get a general idea of the procedure please visit our breast lift page.

Breast Augmentation Combined With A Breast Lift

A combined procedure, if agreed upon by you and your plastic surgeon, can be performed in one of two ways.

  • Single-Stage: This approach is beneficial because it involves a single surgery.  However, there is a higher chance of complications and a higher revision rate with this approach.
  • Two-Stage: This approach involves performing the augmentation first, allowing the patient to heal for several months, then performing the breast lift surgery.  This sequence can be reversed depending on patient goals and surgeon preference.  Though this requires two separate surgeries, it is a useful alternative and is associated with a lower revision rate.

WD Staff

A united group of skin care specialists from Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Austin's leader in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Articles posted under WD staff are authored through combined contributions from our entire team, including Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Aestheticians, Physician Assistants, Aesthetic Nurses, and Patient Coordinators.

10 Responses to “Do I Need A Breast Lift or Breast Augmentation?”

  1. Avatar Geena says:

    Great post, very informative. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Avatar Martin says:

    Great information. Where can I find out more?

  3. Avatar Susan H. says:

    Thank you for this information. I’ve had three kids and it has taken its toll on my body. My breasts have lost a lot of volume and I would really like to have it restored. I think that breast augmentation is the best option for me.

  4. Avatar Sarena says:

    Or a breast lift with implants 🙂

  5. Avatar Gail says:

    I was wondering, are implants used in all breast lift procedures?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Gail, Thanks for submitting your question. Implants are not used on all breast lift procedures. Implants can be used to increase the volume of the breasts during a breast lift procedure. However, many times the patient has enough natural breast tissue and does not need or want to additional volume. So the need for implants depends upon the desired final result.

      Hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  6. Avatar Martha says:

    Hi im 45 years old i been in four car accidents that left my body with alot of scars but one thing that bothers me is my breast, its hard to explain but would like to see if you can help reform and lift my breast. If you can please respond i would really appreciate it. Thank you

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Martha, if you are in the Austin-area we would be glad to setup an in-office consultation. This will allow one of our skilled surgeons to assess you in person and recommend various treatment options. Please feel free to give us a call at 512.328.3376 to setup your consultation!

      WD Staff

  7. Avatar Dr. Yarish says:

    Great explained! We got nothing to add 🙂

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