What is the difference between a breast augmentation and a breast lift?

Unhappy with the shape or size of your breasts? You’re not alone. Fortunately, you’re in a position to do something about it, and the options are increasing all the time. The two most popular procedures are breast augmentation and the breast lift, and we find that some of our clients are confused about the differences between the two. So let’s look at them closely…

What, in a nutshell, are they?

The purpose of breast augmentation is to increase the cup size with the insertion of implants – usually saline or silicone. Saline implants are cheaper, but they also carry more of a risk of leakage.

A breast lift – as the name implies – raises and firms the breasts without increasing the cup size, resulting in a new upper-body contour. It also works as a fix for sagging breasts, repositioning the nipples for a more natural look, and reducing the appearance of enlarged areola.

What happens during these procedures?

A breast augmentation procedure involves making an incision under or to the side of the breasts (usually under, as it hides the scar better), inserting the implant (either between the breast tissue and chest muscle or under the chest muscle), and then stitching up the incisions.

A breast lift procedure depends upon what look you want to achieve, but it involves an incision – either around the areola, or around the areola and down to the crease at the bottom of the breast, or around the areola and down to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease.

This is followed by a lifting and reshaping of the breast tissue and repositioning the nipples and areola. In certain cases, enlarged areolas can be reduced, and excess breast skin can be removed. Finally, the incisions are closed up.

What happens after these procedures?

After a breast augmentation procedure, you will usually be taken to an on-site recovery area for close monitoring purposes. In most cases, this will last for a few hours before you are allowed to go home, and your breasts will usually be wrapped in gauze dressings and be provided with an elasticated bandage or support bra to help minimise swelling and offer extra support as your breasts heal from the procedure.

You will be able to leave the surgery immediately after a breast lift procedure, although you may be required to wear a thin tube under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid, and you will be advised to wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimise swelling and offer extra support.

In both cases, you will be advised on what medication to take to aid healing and avoid the possibility of infection.

Which procedure is best for me?

The typical breast augmentation candidate is physically healthy and fully developed, and has realistic expectations about how they’d like to look, but feels that their breasts are too small, or that they have lost shape due to aging, pregnancy or weight loss, or feels that the upper part of their breast appears ‘empty’, or has asymmetrical breasts, or one or both breasts have failed to develop or have an elongated shape.

The typical breast lift candidate is equally healthy and developed, and is not interested in a bigger cup size, but feels that their breasts have sagged or lost shape and volume due to the aging process, or have developed pendulous breasts, or have developed a flatter, elongated shape, or have nipple that point downwards, or one breast has become lower than the other.