Breast Lift vs Breast Augmentation: What are the Differences?

Two of the most common breast-enhancing surgeries are breast lifts and breast augmentations. If you’re in the early stages of considering a procedure, here are the main differences between the two.

Implants Vs Lifts: What Are They?

Breast Lift

The goal of a breast lift is to reshape the breast and reposition the nipple to make it appear more youthful. This means moving it so that it sits higher on the chest wall, as well as removing loose or saggy skin that increases the appearance of age. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, that means removing skin around the nipple, lifting and tightening tissue in the breast, and sometimes inserting a supportive “sling” on the underside of the breast.

Breast Implants

Breast augmentation involves the insertion of implants into breast tissue, either under the pectoral muscles or over them and under the breast tissue (the latter of which decreases the recovery time substantially). This involves making an incision in the breast, which may occur in multiple places, then incising into the breast to make room for the implant, placing the implant, and sewing the breast back up.

Procedure Results

Breast Lift

A breast lift results in a higher, firmer and shapelier breast. For those whose nipples have become enlarged with time, nursing or weight gain, the surgery can also reduce the size of the nipple.. Skin appears tighter all around the breast, with the breast itself sagging less and protruding from the chest wall more.

Breast Implants

For obvious reasons, the results of breast augmentation are quite literally larger than those of a breast lift. However, women with smaller breasts often opt for implants to increase the size and roundness of their chest. For some women, this is enough to instill confidence and give them the look they desire. For others, they combine implants with a lift for maximum results.

Procedure Risks

Breast Lift

Typically, breast lifts have very few risks. Like any surgery, they do carry the danger of infection afterward. This is dramatically heightened in patients who do not reliably take their antibiotics following the surgery. As with any procedure, there will also be some pain. However, breast lifts typically have very positive outcomes, and aside from a considerable healing time (during which you will experience more restricted activity than you will pain), it carries few risk of complication.

Breast Implants

While there usually aren’t “bad reactions” to surgery, one risk which you should be aware of is capsular contracture. Breast implants are also more likely to require revision than breast lifts.

Time in Surgery

Breast Lift

A breast lift is an outpatient procedure requiring general anesthesia and between 2 and 3 hours on the table.

Breast Implants

Implants also require general anesthesia and are outpatient procedures, but are usually limited to about an hour.

Recovery Time

Breast Lift

Breast lift recovery time is about six weeks total, though you can resume normal activity during most of that time. For the first week, you will likely experience significant pain, and you cannot shower. You will need help during your recovery time, especially during that first week when pain and limited mobility will prevent you from doing ordinary household tasks. By the 2-week mark, you can move normally, and by 4 weeks you can resume exercise – just not anything related to the chest (think golf or tennis). By 6 weeks, you’re considered fully healed.

Breast Implants

Breast augmentation is typically a less invasive surgery with a simpler recovery. Some physicians will let patients shower after 24 hours, though they must still avoid soaking for 2 weeks (the same is true for lifts). You will still probably be sore for up to a week, and should limit activity or a month or so afterward. Your physician can give you more specific information about your case.

Of course, the above likely doesn’t answer all of your questions. Please feel free to get in touch with us here at Sieber Plastic Surgery to learn more about our procedures and how we work. Our friendly team will be happy to set you up with a consultation, so you can ask Dr. Sieber himself your questions and make the best plan for you.



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*Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person. Editorial content, before and after images, and patient testimonials do not constitute a guarantee of specific results. All images feature models except for before and after images.

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