Breast Augmentation VS Breast Lift – Which Is Right For You?

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When it comes to enhancing one's feminine curves, there are two popular options that often come to mind: breast augmentation and breast lift procedures. But how do these two procedures differ, and what can they offer you in achieving your desired breast aesthetic? Haute Beauty expert Dr. Nilay Shay provides a comprehensive comparison.

What is the difference between breast augmentation and breast lift?

Breast augmentation increases the overall volume/size of the breast. Based on the patient's anatomy and how the procedure is done, the patient can have a more upper pole, medial or lateral fullness. Breast augmentation can be done by using implants or fat grafting.

Breast lift is the procedure whereby the position of the nipple-areola complex is placed in a normal position and excess skin and breast tissue are excised and rearranged to give nice natural appearing breasts. A breast lift can actually make breast size slightly smaller.

How can a patient determine which procedure they needed?

Breast lift is mainly indicated after pregnancy or massive weight loss where because of deflation the nipple-areola complex can lay lower than normal and may also descend to an extent that it points downward instead of pointing in the front. Breast augmentation is mainly indicated to increase the size/volume of naturally appearing breasts where the nipple-areola complex is in a normal position. In some patients, who desire more fullness on the top of the breast but have deflated look with a change in the position of the nipple-areola and also have loose skin, it is better to do both procedures together. Because breast augmentation will give volume to the breast with upper pole fullness and a breast lift will help get rid of excess skin and position the nipple-areola complex in a normal position.

How long does the recovery period typically last?

  • The patient needs to take one week off from work.
  • No heavy lifting or exercise for four weeks.
  • No swimming pool or bathtub for four weeks.
  • Shower after a couple of days.
  • Avoid sleeping on their chest for three to four weeks.
  • They can expect some initial results in four to six weeks. Internal healing continues for up to six months when they can expect some final results.

Are there special considerations for patients with breast cancer history or family history?

If a patient has had a family history of breast cancer, we have to make sure it was not a close relative. If breast cancer was a close relative, they need to have a mammogram or ultrasound before having breast surgery. If too many close relatives had breast cancer, the patient will need to see a geneticist to make sure there is no genetic component responsible for breast cancer. If the patient has breast cancer, they will need to be seen by a breast surgeon, and most likely they will need some kind of breast reconstruction, and they may not be a good candidate for breast augmentation or breast lift surgery.

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How can patients minimize scarring?

We do layer closure of wounds in all strong layers of the skin and fat underneath to make sure they don't have major issues with scarring. Also, after surgery, we have the patient start applying silicone gel after two to three weeks to help with scarring. The patient needs to understand that internal healing goes on for one year. So, it is very important to take care of scarring/incision with silicone gel for at least six to nine months to help with scarring.

What should patients expect in terms of follow-up appointments and post-operative care?

Patients are usually seen in a day or two, one week, one month, three months, and six months after surgery. They can be seen more often in between if needed. This surgery is a same-day surgery so patients would go home with a surgical bra. Usually, these patients don't get drainage tubes. The surgical bra must be worn all the time except for taking a shower for three to four weeks. then, a sports bra can be worn. After eight to 12 weeks, a regular bra can be worn.

At each follow-up visit, we make sure the incisions are healing well, swelling and bruising if it happens is getting better, and there is no obvious infection or any other issues. It is very important that patients don't miss any follow-up appointments because there are many minor issues that can be addressed easily initially. Small minor issues can turn into bigger problems if close follow-up is not followed.

How long do the results typically last?

Results of breast augmentation and breast lift can last for a long time. Breast implants need to be changed every 10 years. If patients don't change too much weight and if they are aging naturally, their breast lift results can last a lifetime. It is very important to avoid any drastic changes in lifestyle or weight after these surgeries. Whatever goal weight the patient desires, needs to be reached before the surgery so appropriate breast volume and lift can be achieved with surgery.

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