Breast Lift or Breast Reduction?

I'm a 5'4, 140lbs 30 year old AA female w/no kids. Due to loosing weight my breast has lost elasticity & are large plus heavy (34DD), which have caused extreme neck, shoulder,& back pain. Ive gone to a chiropractor, massage therapist,& primary physician to receive help i.e. meds but cant find relief. I did consult w/a local plastic surgeon but was told I didn't qualify for a breast reduction but a breast lift. My insurance won't cover cost due my breast mass not being lrg enough. Please help!

Doctor Answers 14

Breast lift vs reduction

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You need both a lift and a reduction but the weight of the tissue removed in the reduction won't be enough for insurance to cover you.  This is what I call a lift and partial reduction in my own practice.  This is considered cosmetic and you should save up for it and then go to a great surgeon and have it performed.  Good luck!

Lift and reduction procedures are similar in concept and planning.

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Nearly all procedures for lift and reduction are conceptually similar in that these procedures attempt to reposition or "lift" the nipple/areola complex to it's normal position often using the inframamary fold as a reference point. In reduction procedures breast volume is removed as well as excess skin. In lift procedures only skin is removed and indeed volume may be added in the form of implants ti give a better shape and minimize skin resection.

Insurance companies have their rules for covering these procedures. Some policies even specifically do not cover breast reduction. Some will cover the procedure if there are symptoms related to the volume of the breast. Usually there are minimum volumes specified, BMI considerations etc. Usually they will not pay for cosmetic improvement no mater how distressing it may be.

There are many options here and many good plastic surgeons will approach your situation differently based upon their experience. These are complicated operations and require  a skilled plastic surgeon. You may be best served by consulting several plastic surgeons to explore your options but be prepares for somewhat different approaches.

Thomas R. Walek, MD
Providence Plastic Surgeon

Breast Reduction

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I agree with Dr. Rand and Dr. Sattler both. I would recommend a small reduction and a lift at the same time. Insurance requirements vary, but  I am not surprised you don't qualify as they reserve coverage for massive breasts.  Regardless, if you pursue this as a cosmetic procedure I think you would be able to achieve your goals.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

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Breast lifts often include a small reduction

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You've got two options- both involve moving or REMOVING the sagging breast tissue you have in the bottom of your breast. You clearly need a breat lift with a small inferior reduction or an augto-augmentation flap (Graf flap, Hammond flap etc) to reposition your sagging inferior breast tissue. Check out my website for an example of this concept. 

Breast lift or breast reduction?

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Unfortunately, we have allowed insurance companies to dictate what is medically necessary. I'm sure your Drs. have ruled out other causes to your pain so that it is evident that the weight of your breasts are the culprits. The Ultimate Breast Lift/Reduction is a new class of breast lifting techniques that require an extensive knowledge of mathematics to successfully perform. It was developed to not only restore the youthful appearance to sagging breasts, but also to transfer the weight off your skin. Unlike traditional lifts like the 'anchor' (developed in 1957) rely on the skin envelope alone to hold and maintain your breasts in place; the UBL transfers the weight of your breasts on to your underlying chest muscles. This technique successfully eliminates pain associated with large/heavy breasts without having to meet weight criteria dictated by insurance companies. So essentially, you can enjoy symptom relief without decreasing your breast volume. An added benefit to these techniques is that the vertical scar is completely eliminated. Scars are hidden around the areola and in the natural shadow of the breast. It's worth looking into.

Best wishes,

Dr. H

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 230 reviews

Lift or reduction

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Insurance companies have certain criteria and guidelines they follow to determine if the surgery will be a covered benefit.  If you were denied by your insurance company, you have the option to pay a fee for service.  Some plastic surgery offices offer financing options.  You may want to check this out. 


Breast Lift or Reduction?

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Thank you for the question and pictures.

I agree that you may benefit from breast lifting surgery. Depending on your goals, breast implants may be helpful in achieving/maintaining upper pole breast fullness.

The breast lift will serve to remove redundant/loose skin of the breasts  and raise the breasts'  position  on the  chest wall. This change  in position may serve to help with the neck shoulder and back pain. Unfortunately, there can be no guarantee that breast lifting will alleviate these symptoms.

I would suggest in-person consultation with well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.

I hope this helps.

Same thing

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they are essentially the same procedure in my hands. the difference is who pays, the patient or the inusrance company. i don't like being in between, so i take pictures, and send to insurance company. it is up to them.

Adil Ceydeli, MD
Panama City Plastic Surgeon

Is it a breast reduction or breast lift with a small reduction?

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Your breasts are large and droopy but not sizable enough to qualify for breast reduction coverage per insurance company criteria and you do have symptoms associated with them. You could benefit from a small reduction that would also, by nature, involve a lift. The incisions would be exactly the same as those with a breast lift.

What you could call this procedure is just semantics. It is either a breast reduction not covered by insurance (cosmetic breast reduction) or a breast lift that involves a small reduction. In the end, the results are the same.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Breast Lift Always Part of A Breast Reduction

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In reality, a breast reduction always includes a breast lift to one degree or another.  It is the rare person whose breasts are naturally large but sit exactly where they are supposed to,  The extra weight causes ptosis and a drop of the breast itself.  Insurance companies often want to see a certain amount of tissue removed from the breasts before they will cover a breast reduction.  Each company is different, so youwould need to check out the requirments with your insurance carrier.  In your case, if you are having symptoms, then you do need a reduction, not just a lift.  Whether the insurance carrier wants to cover it or not is a different matter.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.