Is it normal for one breast to be more swollen than the other after a breast lift without implants? (photos)

I'm 4 weeks post op after my anchor breast lift and my left breast still seems to be swollen and looks larger than the right breast to me. Is this normal? I know it all takes time, just want to make sure there is nothing to worry about. Thanks.

Doctor Answers 6

Asymmetry after breast lift can be due to many factors, most of them non-worrisome!

Your photos seem to show an early good result. Only time, healing, swelling resolution, and scar softening/skin stretch will determine over time if you will end up with an outcome that is both pleasing and as symmetrical as possible.

I would first ask you if your breasts were exactly symmetrical before surgery, and I would expect most patients to answer "No." Even when breasts look pretty similar, actual measurements show that most women are not symmetrical at all, some more or less than others. But "Jello-mold" symmetrical is rare if it exists at all!

Then, you should ask your surgeon if his nurses or pathologist actually weighed the tissue/skin removed during your breast lift. This, too, in rare circumstances matches exactly.

And, finally, there are the inevitable differences in bruising, bleeding, swelling, and even which side you sleep on more (gravity acts to swell the dependent breast more than the "higher" one), or which hand you use more (are you right or left-handed?), all of which play a role in the asymmetry you see now.

Fortunately, unless there is an actual hematoma or seroma (which must be drained with a needle or surgically), time will even most of these factors out, excepting only those cases which had differences pre-operatively that were not accommodated-for in the operating room, or differences in tissue removal in breasts that actually matched pretty well pre-op and had different amounts of tissue or skin removed with the mastopexy. Only time will tell, and talking to your surgeon to ask about the lines of thought described above will help you understand the potential answers. Be patient--this will continue to change for the next 6-12 months, which is how long you should wait before asking for revision should that be needed/desired. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen


Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 239 reviews

No major worries

Many things can account for asymmetry during the post op period following mastopexy.  The most worrisome of these are bleeding and infection.  Thankfully it seems like you have neither of these problems.  Apart from this, there could be minor difference in the amount of normal swelling and the speed of subsequent resolution of swelling.  This can be affected by your activity level and how you use each arm.  As you do not have any urgent problems, I would wait 6-12 weeks before making a final judgment on symmetry.  Wishing you all the best.

Vincent A. Naman, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Breast lift expert in Los Angeles

It is not uncommon to have asymmetric swelling after a breast lift. This is not indicative of your final result. 

Best, 

Dr. Karamanoukian 
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Swelling post op

Yes, its actually rather common to have each side of a surgery recover at different times.  At 4 weeks, your are still healing and it will take some time for all the swelling to resolve.  Wait 3 months and re-examine again. Good luck.

Khashayar Mohebali, MD, FACS
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

I know it seems crazy...

but even after a month, you're still going to see differences between the two breasts. One will feel better, have less swelling, less pain, better scars, etc...until you're about 6 months out.

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Breast Lift healing

Thanks for your question.

It is still very early after your procedure and swelling is expected.  It is also very normal for slight differences between swelling to occur.  Make sure to keep your scheduled appointments with your plastic surgeon.  

Best Wishes

Steven Camp, MD

Steven M. Camp, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

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.