Is it true that to get a breast lift that one also has to get breast implants?

I am considering a breast lift as I am in the process of a 250lb weight loss journey. I simply don't understand why breast implants are required for a breast lift. Please explain why.

Doctor Answers 21


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Perhaps you needn't understand it because it happens not to be correct. 

While many patients getting a lift also get implants, the reason is to correct sagging AND insufficient volume. Since volume seems not to be an issue for you, a lift alone should accomplish your goals. 

Your surgery should best be done as you approach your goal weight, but now is a perfectly appropriate time to begin the consultation process.  All the best. 

Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Breast lift can certainly be done alone without implants (if present breast volume is satisfactory).

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Congratulations on your massive weight loss! I'm sure that your breasts lost size as the rest of your body did, but IF you have adequate breast volume and have breast lift surgery by an ABPS-certified plastic surgeon who does lots of breast surgery, you will only need to lose about 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of skin per breast to tighten your skin brassiere into a beautiful, more youthful look.

Of course if your weight loss totally deflated your breasts to essentially skin only, a full breast lift can make whatever remains of your breasts perkier, but certainly not bigger, since that ounce to ounce and a half of skin will need to be removed to tighten and lift your breasts. In cases such as this, implants would be used to provide additional volume to "fill" the tightened skin brassiere.

But you are absolutely correct that breast lifting does not necessarily REQUIRE the use of breast implants.

Some surgeons apparently learned to perform the breast lift operation by removing more tissue than just skin, and then adding implants to "make up" and add-to the remaining volume. The usual explanation for this is that the implant will maintain or create better "upper pole fullness." This is basically hogwash, and in some cases may be simply unethical adding to the cost and complexity of the procedure.

Implants add size (when needed or desired), and if placed appropriately to avoid capsular contracture, can be expected to ALWAYS soften, settle, and drop over time as the tissues heal and the pocket scars and breast lift scars mature. Then that "upper pole fullness" that was present when the implants were still "high and tight" becomes upper pole deficiency when they drop.

For several examples of my breast lift patients WITHOUT implants (before and after their breast lift surgery), please click on the web reference link below. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Breast lift

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No, if you have enough breast tissue, you do not necessarily need breast implants when you undergo a lift.  If you want to be larger then yes you would likely need implants.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Is it true that to get a breast lift that one also has to get breast implants?

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Breast lifts and breast implants are totally different operations, and while often done together there is no necessity to do both unless that is what it will take to get you to your desired look. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Breast implants are NOT required for a breast lift

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It is absolutely false that implants are required for a breast lift. The lift is meant to elevate the nipple and tighten the loose breast and reshape the breast tissue. If you have enough volume and material to sculpt with, the lift may be all you need. The use of an implant comes in when you need volume or want to be bigger and fuller than your own tissue will allow. But implants are where most of the complications arise so if you can be happy without them it is less complicated.

With a massive weight loss, this adds extreme complexity because of the loss of tissue elasticity. Make sure to work with a very experienced plastic surgeon.

Breast lift

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I'm really not sure where this idea comes from? I've heard the question asked in my office several times.there is no absolute necessities for an implant along with a lift may improve the outcome in certain circumstances but it is certainly not  absolutely necessary.

Sherwood Baxt, MD
Paramus Plastic Surgeon

Breast Lift without Implants

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The insertion of an implant as well, may be advisable to restore volume, which is lost with #weightloss. However, if the loss of volume is not a concern, #fatgrafting can be used instead of implants to improve the contours of the breast. This is the “#CaliforniaBreastLift” or Natural Breast Enlargement which is ideal for shaping the breast.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Breast lift without implants

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Congratulations on your weight loss.  It is not necessary to have implants placed when a breast lift is performed.  Many patients have a breast lift without implants and are very happy.  The deciding factor would be how large you wish to be after the procedure and would depend upon how much natural breast tissue you have.

Breast implants are not mandatory

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Thanks for your question - this is a common misconception about implants and lifts.
Only use breast implants with your lift if you want:
a)  a larger breast size that what you are starting with;
b)  more of a fuller, rounder appearance to the upper part of the breast.

If you don't want to need these, you could simply have the breast lift by itself, without implants.  Using just your own tissue also has the advantage of not requiring future implant-related surgery.

Breast lift does not require the placement of breast implants

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A breast lift alone without implants is a perfectly acceptable procedure and is often done.  Especially after weight loss if you have a significant amount of breast gland and fat left on your breasts, implants may not be required.

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.