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

If you’re dissatisfied with the size of your breasts, or the shape, or both, you’re in luck: you live in an age where cosmetic procedures for the breast area are not only safe and effective, but also where having a ‘boob job’ carries no stigma at all. But which procedure is that one that’s right for you? Let’s take a closer look at our two most popular procedures: breast augmentation and the breast lift…

What are they?

A breast lift – as the name implies – aims to raise and firm 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.

Breast augmentation is – rightly or wrongly – what people talk about when they refer to a ‘boob job’. It’s a procedure which increases a woman’s cup size with the insertion of saline or silicone implants.

In a nutshell, then: breast augmentation is for size, while a breast lift is for shape.

What occurs during the breast augmentation and breast lift procedures?

There can be a lot of variation in a breast lift procedure, depending on the desired result. An incision will be made – 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 – followed by a lifting and reshaping of the breast tissue and the repositioning the nipples and areola. In certain cases, enlarged areolas can be reduced, and excess breast skin can be removed.

A breast augmentation procedure involves making an incision – usually under the breasts, but sometimes to the side of the breasts – followed by the insertion of an implant. Sometimes, the implant is placed between the breast tissue and chest muscle. In other cases, it is placed under the chest muscle.

Breast augmentation vs breast lift: what happens in the recovery stage?

You will be able to leave the surgery immediately after a breast lift procedure – although you may have to wear a thin tube under the skin, in order 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.

After a breast augmentation procedure, you will usually be taken to an on-site recovery area so you can be closely monitored for a while. 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. You’ll also be provided with an elasticated bandage or support bra: this will help minimise swelling and offer extra support as your breasts heal from the procedure.

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

Which cosmetic breast procedure is right for me?

If you’re physically healthy and fully developed, and are not interested in a bigger cup size, but you feel that your breasts have sagged or lost shape and volume due to the ageing process, a breast lift is the answer. It’s also the perfect procedure for women who have developed pendulous breasts, or a flatter, elongated shape, or have nipples that point downwards, or have one breast which has become lower than the other.

The typical breast augmentation candidate is equally 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.