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By Healthtrip Team Blog Published on - 26 October - 2023

Breast Reduction vs. Breast Lift: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to making decisions about breast surgery, it's important to understand the key differences between two commonly sought-after procedures: breast reduction and breast lift. Both surgeries can have a significant impact on a person's confidence and quality of life, but they serve distinct purposes. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the dissimilarities between breast reduction and breast lift surgeries, helping you make an informed decision about which one might be right for you.

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1. Purpose of the Procedure:

Breast Reduction:

Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is primarily aimed at reducing the size and volume of overly large breasts. This procedure is recommended for individuals who experience physical discomfort, pain, or limitations in their daily activities due to the excessive weight and size of their breasts. Breast reduction not only alleviates the physical burden but also aims to achieve a more proportionate and aesthetically pleasing breast shape.

Breast Lift:

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is performed to raise and reshape breasts that have sagged due to factors like pregnancy, aging, or weight loss. The primary goal of a breast lift is to restore a more youthful and lifted appearance to the breasts. Unlike breast reduction, a breast lift does not significantly change the breast size but focuses on addressing sagging, improving breast contour, and repositioning the nipples and areolas to a higher, more aesthetically pleasing location.

2. Ideal Candidates:

Breast Reduction:

Ideal Candidates: Breast reduction is typically recommended for women with disproportionately large breasts causing physical discomfort. Ideal candidates often experience chronic issues such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder grooving from bra straps, skin irritation, and difficulty in finding well-fitting clothing. These candidates seek relief from the physical and emotional strain of having excessively large breasts.

Breast Lift:

Ideal Candidates: Individuals who are satisfied with their breast size but have breasts that have lost their youthful shape and firmness are ideal candidates for a breast lift. Common factors leading to sagging breasts include pregnancy, breastfeeding, aging, and significant weight loss. Candidates for a breast lift desire improved breast position and contour without a substantial change in breast volume.


3. Incisions and Scarring:

Breast Reduction:

  • Incisions: Breast reduction surgery involves multiple incisions, typically made in key areas. These incisions often encircle the areola, extend vertically down from the areola to the breast crease, and continue horizontally along the inframammary crease (breast fold). This pattern results in incisions resembling an anchor or inverted T-shape.
  • Scarring: Due to the multiple incisions, the scarring from breast reduction is more extensive. The scars form the shape of an anchor or inverted T, with the horizontal scar along the inframammary crease, the vertical scar down the breast, and the circular scar around the areola. Over time, these scars typically fade but remain visible to varying degrees.

Breast Lift:

  • Incisions: In contrast, breast lift incisions are usually less extensive. They are typically made around the areola (periareolar incision) and may extend vertically down to the breast crease. This results in a lollipop-shaped incision pattern.
  • Scarring: Scarring from a breast lift is generally less extensive compared to breast reduction. The incisions result in a lollipop-shaped scar, with the vertical component extending down from the areola and the horizontal component following the natural crease of the breast. While scarring is still present, it tends to be less noticeable than the anchor-shaped scars of breast reduction surgery.

4. Breast Size After Surgery:

Breast Reduction:

Breast reduction surgery results in a noticeable decrease in breast size and volume. This reduction in breast size is a primary goal of the procedure and is typically achieved by removing excess breast tissue, fat, and skin. As a result, patients often experience relief from the physical and emotional discomfort associated with overly large breasts.

Breast Lift:

Breast lift surgery does not significantly change breast size. Instead, its primary objective is to restore a more youthful and lifted appearance to the breasts. The procedure involves reshaping the existing breast tissue and repositioning the nipples and areolas to a higher position on the chest. While the breast size remains relatively unchanged, the breasts appear firmer and more rejuvenated.


5. Nipple and Areola Repositioning:

Breast Reduction:

During a breast reduction, the surgeon often needs to reposition the nipples and areolas to match the new breast shape and position. This is a crucial step in achieving a balanced and proportionate breast appearance following the reduction of breast tissue.

Breast Lift:

Nipple and areola repositioning is an integral part of the breast lift procedure. Since the primary goal of a breast lift is to lift sagging breasts, the surgeon repositions the nipples and areolas to a higher and more youthful location on the breast mound. This repositioning contributes to the overall improvement in breast contour and aesthetics.

6. Relief from Physical Discomfort:

Breast Reduction:

Breast reduction surgery provides significant relief from physical discomfort associated with large breasts. Many women with overly large breasts experience chronic pain, including back pain, neck pain, shoulder grooving from bra straps, and skin irritation. Breast reduction alleviates these symptoms by reducing the weight and size of the breasts.

Breast Lift:

While a breast lift can improve breast appearance and confidence, it is not primarily intended to address physical discomfort. The primary goal of a breast lift is to enhance breast aesthetics, lift sagging breasts, and restore a more youthful contour. It may indirectly alleviate some discomfort related to breast sagging but is not a treatment for physical pain.

7. Breastfeeding After Surgery:

Breast Reduction:

Breast reduction surgery may affect the ability to breastfeed. During the procedure, milk ducts can be disrupted or removed, which can impact the flow of breast milk. While some women can still breastfeed after breast reduction, it's important to discuss this with your surgeon and understand the potential limitations.

Breast Lift:

A breast lift is less likely to interfere with breastfeeding compared to breast reduction surgery. Since a breast lift primarily involves reshaping and repositioning existing breast tissue without significant removal, the milk ducts are less likely to be affected. However, individual variations in breastfeeding success may still occur, so it's essential to discuss this with your surgeon if future breastfeeding is a concern.

8. Longevity of Results:

Breast Reduction:

The results of breast reduction are typically long-lasting. After the procedure, patients generally experience a significant and permanent reduction in breast size and volume. However, it's important to note that breast appearance may change over time due to factors like aging and weight fluctuations. While the size reduction achieved during the surgery remains, natural aging processes can affect the elasticity of breast tissue and skin, potentially leading to some degree of sagging or changes in breast shape.

Breast Lift:

The effects of a breast lift can be long-lasting. The procedure aims to lift sagging breasts and reshape them to a more youthful position. While the initial results are often significant and can endure for many years, natural aging and the effects of gravitational forces may cause some degree of sagging to return over time. However, the extent of sagging recurrence varies from person to person, and many individuals maintain a more lifted breast appearance for an extended period.

9. Combination Procedures:


Breast Reduction:

Some individuals opt for a combination of breast reduction and breast lift procedures to achieve both reduced breast size and improved breast shape. This combination approach is especially suitable for individuals who not only desire relief from physical discomfort associated with overly large breasts but also wish to address breast sagging or asymmetry. By combining these procedures, patients can achieve a balanced and aesthetically pleasing breast appearance.

Breast Lift:

A breast lift can be combined with breast augmentation using implants for those who desire both a lift and increased breast volume. This combination procedure is chosen by individuals who wish to enhance their breast size while also addressing sagging or changes in breast shape. The breast augmentation component involves the placement of implants to achieve the desired breast volume and fullness, while the breast lift component focuses on lifting and reshaping the breast tissue to create an attractive and youthful contour. This combination allows for comprehensive breast enhancement.


Breast reduction and breast lift surgeries serve distinct purposes and cater to different patient needs. Breast reduction primarily focuses on reducing breast size to alleviate physical discomfort, while breast lift aims to lift and reshape sagging breasts without altering their size significantly. Deciding which procedure is right for you should be based on your individual goals, physical condition, and consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon. Understanding the differences between these procedures is the first step toward achieving your desired breast appearance and improved confidence.

FAQs

Breast reduction surgery is a procedure that reduces the size and volume of overly large breasts. It is suitable for women who experience physical discomfort, such as back pain and neck pain, due to the weight and size of their breasts.
Breast reduction surgery does result in scars, typically in the shape of an anchor or inverted T. However, over time, these scars tend to fade and become less noticeable.
Breast reduction may impact breastfeeding, as milk ducts can be disrupted during the procedure. Some women can still breastfeed after surgery, but it's essential to discuss this with your surgeon.
A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts. It is suitable for individuals who want to improve breast position and contour without a significant change in breast size.
Scarring from a breast lift is typically less extensive than that of breast reduction. The scars often form a lollipop shape, with a vertical incision from the areola to the breast crease and a horizontal incision along the crease.
Yes, a breast lift can be combined with breast augmentation using implants for individuals who desire both a lift and increased breast volume. This combination procedure allows for comprehensive breast enhancement.
The results of a breast lift are long-lasting, though natural aging and gravitational forces may cause some degree of sagging to return over time. However, the extent of sagging recurrence varies among individuals.
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