Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift: Either/Or or Both?

When it comes to breast augmentation and breast lift, is it really an either/or situation? Not exactly. In fact, combining breast augmentation and breast lift surgeries isn’t an uncommon practice. So, how do you know which procedure(s) will most benefit you?

While breast augmentation and breast lift surgeries have two distinct purposes, people who pursue them are sometimes looking to address identical problems. Those often involve noticeable changes in the size or shape of their breasts associated with:

  • genetics
  • weight loss
  • age or gravity
  • reduced skin elasticity
  • pregnancy and childbirth

If you’ve always longed for larger breasts, breast augmentation (with or without a breast lift) may be what you want. If you’re mostly happy with the size of your breasts but wish they, your nipples and your areola sat higher on your chest, a breast lift might be a better fit.

Breast Augmentation (Augmentation Mammoplasty)

What’s the purpose of breast augmentation or augmentation mammoplasty surgery? The simple answer is to increase breast size. But not all breast augmentations are strictly cosmetic. Two examples of breast reconstruction include post-mastectomy breast augmentation and a breast augmentation with implants in lieu of a breast lift.

The 3 general reasons people pursue breast augmentation surgery are:

  • Physical – to get bigger breasts or reconstruct breasts
  • Aesthetic – to correct asymmetry, sag or volume loss
  • Emotional – to look and feel better in clothing

It’s not enough to simply want breast augmentation surgery. You have to be a candidate whose physical, aesthetic and emotional concerns are realistic. An experienced plastic surgeon will review your goals with you, identify your unique risks and focus on maximizing your personal benefits.

Breast augmentation patient goals often include:

  • Feeling sexier and more self-confident
  • Being happier with breast size and shape
  • Looking better in clothing, swimsuits and naked
  • Balancing out differences in breast size and/or shape
  • Restoring lost volume after weight loss, breastfeeding, etc.
  • Correcting breast sag or droopiness and making breasts firmer

Because peoples’ needs vary, the breast augmentation process continues to grow and develop. Various breast implant materials, shapes and placement methods are being explored. Emerging practices and alternative materials continue to be researched.

But, the most widely recognized options still include:

  • Breast Augmentation with Saline Breast Implants
  • Breast Augmentation with Silicone Breast Implants
  • Fat Grafting or “Natural” Breast Augmentation

When breast augmentation is performed in lieu of a breast lift, it’s usually because a woman’s breasts are affected more by a loss of breast tissue volume than they are by sag or droop itself. Read on to learn more about breast sag’s relationship to breast augmentation.

Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

Are sagging, drooping breasts starting to get you down? There are a variety of reasons why women (and, in some cases, men) undergo breast lift surgery. Breast imbalance – in which your left or right breast hangs lower than its neighbor – is one example.

But, a few of the more common reasons for pursuing mastopexy include:

  • Changes in body image – noticeable loss of breast volume or shape
  • Changes in nipples and areola – they fall low and/or point downward
  • Changes in skin tone – breasts, skin and areolae are elongated

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is most often recommended in cases where women suffer from breast sag classified as ptosis. Two other conditions which mimic symptoms of ptosis but are often corrected via breast augmentation are empty sac syndrome and pseudoptosis.

When a plastic surgeon diagnoses ptosis, it means that the nipple and areola fall at or below the breast crease to such an extent that lifting the breasts is the most effective way to reposition them. Empty sac syndrome and pseudoptosis indicate a loss of fullness or volume versus sag alone.

But, not all ptosis is created equal. The 3 levels of ptosis are:

  • Mild ptosis (grade I): Your nipples are in line with the breast crease
  • Moderate ptosis (grade II): Your nipples fall below the breast crease
  • Advanced ptosis (grade III): Your nipples point toward the floor

At the end of the day, the goal of breast lift surgery is to restore balance, beauty and youthfulness to the breast area. But, the level or grade of your ptosis dictates which form of mastopexy a plastic surgeon recommends.

Here’s a quick look at your breast lift surgery options:

  • Grade I ptosis – Crescent Breast Lift or “Nipple” Lift
  • Grade I or II ptosis – Benelli Breast Lift or “Donut” Mastopexy
  • Grade II ptosis – Vertical Mastopexy or “Lollipop” Breast Lift
  • Grade III ptosis – Full Mastopexy Breast Lift or “Anchor” Lift

Each of these procedures involves tissue removal and the potential raising and/or reposition of the nipple and areola. While some are more invasive than others, each delivers benefits which are specific to the level of ptosis being treated. For example, a full mastopexy is best in cases of extreme sag.

Combined Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift Surgery

After learning how breast augmentation surgery differs from a breast lift, you may be wondering why a plastic surgeon would suggest combining those surgeries. Answering that is a lot like explaining why one might be chosen over the other in the case of breast sag – it’s all a matter of degree.

A breast lift performed by itself corrects a specific problem: Breast droop or sag that isn’t accompanied by a loss of volume – or, at least, not enough to warrant breast implants. Similarly, a breast augmentation by itself is meant to correct a loss of volume where no or not much sag exists.

Combined breast augmentation and breast lift surgery:

  • Corrects measurable breast sag
  • Adds volume and fullness to the breasts
  • Addresses issues of imbalance or asymmetry
  • Helps meet physical, emotional and aesthetic goals

Learn more about breast augmentation, breast lift surgery and/or breast implants from a board certified plastic surgeon near you.

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