At what point do you know if you need a breast lift vs breast implants (or both)?
Breast Lift versus Breast Augmentation
Doctor Answers 161
My Breasts Have Fallen and They Can't Get Up - Augmentation or Breast Lift
Here is the answer based on what I look for and ask each patient in my practice setting in Sarasota, Florida.
Implants alone will correct drooping when:
- Breast drooping is mild
- The nipple is still near the center breast and does not point downward
- There is some visible skin beneath the nipple/areola when looking at the breasts straight on.
- The patient is okay with being at least a cup size larger
- Breast drooping is moderate or severe
- The nipple is at the bottom of the breast or points downward
- There is no visible skin under the nipple/areola when looking at the breasts straight on.
- The patient is already a C or D cup breast size and doesn't want to be larger
- The areola is too large and the patient wants it reduced
- If there is a long distance from the nipple and areola to the crease beneath the chest (more than 7 cm stretched skin, about 21/2 inches) a breast lift is often needed.
- If the patients breasts are large and pendulous a lift or reduction may be needed.
I use implants in combination with a lift when:
- The patient wants to be larger in addition to being less droopy
- The patient desires to maintain projection and roundness of the breast mound
- The drooping is severe
Breast augmentation or breast augmentation plus lift Augmentation mammoplasty
Other patients are primarily interested in increasing their breast volume, but have enough breast ptosis to make the appearance of breast augmentation alone odd and unappealing. Placing implants behind breasts with significant ptosis creates the appearance of breasts hanging off of a pair of implants, which looks distinctly unnatural and aesthetically unappealing. These patients are also best served by augmentation mastopexy, which in addition to increasing breast volume restores the position of the nipple-areola complex to the top of the breast mound, tightens the lower pole and lifts the breast.
Breast Lift versus Breast Augmentation
Although there is some indication cross-over, a breast augmentation has a different goal than an uplift (mastopexy). Adding an implant to a breast is designed simply to make it larger. Generally it even has the same shape, but it is just larger. If the nipples are too low and there is sagging, an implant will make it larger, but with some minor exceptions, it will be a larger sagging breast with the nipple pointing downward. An abstract rule many plastic surgeons go by is, if the nipple is below the crease under the breast, an uplift is needed.
If the breasts sag and are also too small, both a mastopexy and an implants are usually indicated. Often a mastopexy without an implants leaves the upper aspect of the breast too flat after the swelling has subsided. Frequently an uplift is accompanied with a small implant to solve this problem. Or an uplift can be combined with fat grafts, which can be very effective.
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Breast lift versus augmentation?
A breast implant is simply a bag of filler material designed to add volume to the breast. It is not designed to do anything else. I tell my patients that their breasts should look just like they do before surgery, only fuller. If you look at your breasts and determine that that will not work for you then perhaps you need a different procedure. Some patients who have lost volume from pregnancy or weight loss simply have loss of volume to their breasts leaving them with a "scooped out" look. The shape of their breasts may be fine. They may simply need to "re-fill" the empty skin. If that is the case, then an implant is the perfect choice! There are a couple of criteria that we, as plastic surgeons, use to determine if a patient needs a lift or not. If the nipple is below the level of the crease under the breast then a breast lift is probably necessary. We also measure the distance from the small notch at the base of the throat to the nipple. Ideally, this distance should be 18 - 22 centimeters. Anything more than that probably means a breast lift is indicated. There are several ways to do breast lifts and this should be discussed in consultation with the surgeon. Some surgeons do breast augmentations at the same time as the breast lift and others prefer to do the augmentation at a second operation later one after the tissue has recovered.
Lift vs augmentation vs combination
This is a great question and one that we get asked quite a bit in my practice. As a general rule if you look in the mirror and see skin below the areola (the pigmented part) and the bottom of the breast then you could get away without a lift. If your nipple position is so low you cannot see skin, you just see areola, then you would require a lift as well. This being said there are many patients that are “on the fence” and could use a lift, but they do not want the scars yet. Many times, we use a slightly larger implant which can get a very small lift and it “buys them time” for a few years before a lift is needed.
Breast Augmentation OR Breast Lift OR Both?
A breast lift is a procedure whereby excess skin of the breast is removed, thereby tightening it and reshaping it.
If you simply want your breasts made tighter and your nipple moved to a higher location, then a breast lift would be the preferred operation.In this situation however, there is no increase in the overall size of the breast.In some cases, the naked breast will actually appear smaller.This change is due to the fact that excess skin has been removed and the breast has been re-compacted.The actual breast volume itself has not changed.
In cases of mild laxity of the breast skin, a breast augmentation may provide enough lift to correct the problem.In this situation, the breast itself will be enlarged in addition to tightening and lifting the breast.When it is obvious that a breast lift is necessary, many women prefer to have at least a small or medium size implant placed at the same time.Placement of the implant will allow for more fullness to remain in the upper portion of the breast and often leads to a firmer, more youthful looking appearance.A breast lift will resultin more external scarring than the breast augmentation alone.
If you are considering either of these two procedures, it is very important to consult a surgeon who is properly trained and experienced in all forms of breast enhancement surgery.A properly trained and experienced breast surgeon will properly analyze your situation and listen to your concerns.The best operative plan for you can then be made.
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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.