Breast lift or breast reduction?

Breast lift or breast reduction?

30th Nov 2018

For women who want to enhance or rejuvenate the appearance of their bust, there are several types of plastic surgery interventions available nowadays. The most commonly requested cosmetic procedure on the breasts is, of course, breast augmentation with silicone implants. However, there are also plenty of women who resort to plastic surgery as they need breast lifts or breast reductions.

When it confronted with sagginess and breasts that are normal or larger in size, it can be difficult to see what procedure is the most suitable. Overly large breasts are often associated with breast ptosis, even from an early age. But is a breast reduction necessary or is a breast lift enough to improve the appearance of the breasts and correct their size to be in harmony with the rest of the anatomy of the patient?

Breast lift for perky breasts

We use the breast lift procedure, also known as mastopexy, to correct the sagginess of the breasts (breast ptosis). The result of the procedure should be breasts that are more elevated on the chest, perkier, and looking fuller and rounder.

The breast lift intervention is performed under general anesthesia. This operation lasts from 2 hours and in some special conditions can require up to 24 hours of hospitalization. The plastic surgeon can choose between multiple operative plans to correct breast ptosis. The number and length of the incisions are dependent on the amount of skin to be excised and the level of the ptosis. For a minor ptosis, a simple incision around the areola can correct the sagginess. However, for severe cases, the plastic surgeon might perform up to three incisions (one around the areola, one vertically from the areola edge to the inframammary fold, and another one horizontally in the inframammary fold).

The breast lift procedure could result in a reduction of the size of the breasts if the sagginess is significant. This is the reason why many women choose to have implants inserted during the breast lift surgery to improve the volume of their breasts.

The breast lift is recommended for women whose breasts are falling and sagging or breasts that are too big, too empty or too small.

During the breast lift procedure, whatever the operative method chosen, the plastic surgeon will remove the excess skin and re-center the mammary gland. The surgeon will not remove any part of the mammary gland, and this is the difference between the breast lift and breast reduction.

Breast reduction to correct breasts that are too big

The purpose of breast reduction is to normalize the appearance of the breasts and make them proportionate to the rest of the patient’s anatomy. Overly large breasts are not only an aesthetic concern, but they can also pose real health issues like difficulty in breathing, dermatological conditions on the inframammary fold and constant pain on the back, neck, and shoulders.

Breast reduction is performed under general anesthesia for approximately 2 hours and can require up to 24 hours of hospitalization. The surgeon performs a vertical incision under the breast or an inverted T incision if there is considerable excess mammary gland and skin to be removed. The operative method will be chosen depending on the amount of mammary gland to be removed.

When breast reduction is performed, the aim is to reduce the size of the breasts significantly and this can only be done by removing a part of the mammary gland, aside from the potential skin and fat tissue excess. The breast reduction procedure is recommended for breasts that are really voluminous, often falling, causing shoulder and neck pain and deformities of the spine.

During the breast reduction procedure, the plastic surgeon might also decide to use liposuction to eliminate excess fat deposits that can be localized on the sides under the arms, on the sides of the breasts, under the breasts, or on the patient’s back.

Differences between breast lift and breast reduction

The breast lift can cause a small reduction of the breasts, but usually is not something significant. With the help of the breast reduction procedure, we can diminish the size of the breasts with two, three bra cup sizes or more.

While the breast lift is performed exclusively for aesthetic purposes, the breast reduction surgery can have a functional motivation; hence there are cases when it can even be covered by health insurance so the patient doesn’t have the sole responsibility to pay for the procedure.

If you have breasts that are too big, the first thing you can do is schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon. He will assess your breast structure and can recommend the most suitable procedure for you, after discussing your expectations from the surgery.

If you want breasts that are just perkier and higher on the chest wall, whatever their size is, then breast lift surgery is the procedure for you. If you want smaller breasts, the plastic surgeon might recommend the breast lift, liposuction or breast reduction, depending on your anatomy.


Many patients are not aware of the differences that exist between breast lift and breast reduction. Many tend to believe that one procedure can substitute the other and this is not true. Each intervention has a very specific goal. The breast lift procedure aims to elevate the breasts and re-center the mammary gland to make it perkier. The reduction in the size of the breasts after a breast lift can occur, but it is not always guaranteed. On the other hand, breast reduction is performed exactly with the purpose to reduce the size of the breasts. Of course, once the breasts are diminished in size by eliminating a part of the mammary gland, the plastic surgeon will once again re-center the gland so it will also be lifted.

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