Breast Augmentation with Implants or Breast Lift Surgery – Which Is Right for You?

In Nashville

By Alton Ingram, MD

Surgeon showing a patient different silicon implants
Describes the differences between a breast lift and breast augmentation with implants. Helps patients determine which procedure might be best for them based on their desired goals.

What kind of surgery is available to enhance the look, shape, and feel of your breasts?

Breast surgery is a great way to improve your confidence by enhancing your femininity and helping you feel sexier in everything from a business suit to a swimsuit. But before consulting with a surgeon in Nashville, it’s always a good idea to learn as much as you can about your options for breast enhancement surgery.

There is more than one way to improve the appearance of the bust. Most people associate cosmetic breast surgery with breast implants or breast augmentation surgery. But there is another cosmetic technique to enhance the silhouette – breast lift surgery. A breast lift involves raising the nipples, tightening the skin, decreasing droopiness and enhancing your breasts’ natural contour.

While both breast implant and breast lift surgeries will enhance how you look, they do this in different ways. Breast augmentation surgery increases your size and can give you more roundness and fullness, especially in the upper pole of your breasts. Breast implants can also make it look like your nipple has been lifted up to about an inch or so, if your surgeon uses a wider implant, places the center of the implant a little beneath your nipple, or places the breast implant in front of your pectoralis muscle. Breast augmentation can be performed through an incision two to three inches long, which is hidden in the fold beneath your breast.

Breast lift surgery always requires an incision around your areola (the pigmented skin surrounding your nipple) and usually requires that incision to extend vertically down to the fold beneath your breast and horizontally inside that fold. Nobody wants visible scars, and fortunately the incisions on a breast lift tend to flatten and fade away within six months to a year. Breast lift surgery corrects droopiness by lifting your nipple, coning the skin on the lower half of your breast to give you a smooth contour, and elevating your breast gland tissue to give you more fullness in your cleavage and more roundness on the top and the side of your breast.

Here are a few facts about breast augmentation and breast lift surgery.

  • Breast implant surgery primarily focuses on the enlargement and firmness of the breasts, whereas breast lift surgery addresses the droopiness of your skin or nipple.
  • Both breast augmentation and breast lift surgery require incision. The incisions on breast implant surgery are better hidden than those on breast lift surgery.
  • Breast lift surgery without breast implants can give more natural results, both to the eye and the touch. Most patients require breast implants in order to get the fullest and roundest look (in your cleavage, up top, and on the sides of your breasts) possible, whereas breast lift surgery focuses more on raising your nipple and giving you a beautiful contour at the bottom of your breasts.
  • Breast lift surgery is ideal for women whose breasts already have enough volume and tissue, to begin with.
  • You can have a breast lift and breast augmentation with implants at the same time.
  • Breast implants surgery can slightly lift your breasts. To address moderate to severe breast sagging, you should have breast lift surgery.

How are breast augmentation with implants and breast lift surgery different?

More than half of women who want to change how their breasts look choose breast augmentation using silicone or saline breast implants. Some women don’t want to be any larger, though – they may be bothered by how their breasts seem to “sag” due to aging, weight loss, breastfeeding, or just gravity. Luckily, plastic surgeons have been performing breast lift surgery – called mastopexy – since the early 1900s. While breast augmentation with implants focuses on the shape and size of your breasts, breast lift surgery addresses droopiness without increasing your size.

What goes on during breast augmentation with breast implants?

Breast augmentation involves placing saline or silicone implants in just the right place to give you the size and shape you want. The implants are inserted through incisions that are hidden beneath your breast tissue. In the United States, the average breast implant weighs about twelve ounces, and the surgery takes less than an hour (you’ll be in the surgery center for about two hours – we always perform breast augmentation as an outpatient procedure). 

Real patient breast augmentation before and after photos

What is a breast lift (mastopexy) procedure?

Breast lift surgery works by removing excess skin below your nipple, raising your nipple, and reshaping your breast tissue. By repositioning your nipple and areola, we create a more protruding and forward look. This surgery takes about two hours and just like breast augmentation with implants is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Real patient breast reconstruction

How are breast implant and breast lift recovery different?

What is recovery like after breast implant surgery?

You will feel tightness in your skin because of the implants and will need pain pills (on average – everyone is different!) for about 4 days. For the first few weeks, you’ll need to wear a well-fitting sports bra. 

Your first followup visit will be one week after surgery, and that’s when you’ll probably be able to start back with aerobic or lower body exercise. You will be able to shower after this appointment, we may begin your displacement exercises then, and almost everyone is ready to return to work after a week.

Your second followup visit will be two weeks after surgery, and that’s when we will remove one stitch from each breast. You’ll almost certainly be back to all of your normal activities except those that require you to put a lot of stress on your shoulder girdle, and we will discuss exactly what you feel like doing and what activities you’d like to postpone a little bit more.

We will see each other at one month, two months, and four months after surgery. You’ll have questions each time that we will discuss, and by the fourth month your implants will have “settled in” and we will be able to see your final result! I like to see everyone back once a year just to make sure that everything is going great!

 What is recovery like after breast lift (mastopexy) surgery?

Recovering from breast lift surgery is very different from recovering from breast augmentation surgery. Even though a mastopexy takes twice as long, we won’t be doing anything that stretches your skin or pectoralis muscles, so the discomfort is way less than with breast implants. Most patients only need pain pills for one or two days after a breast lift. However, because the surgery is more complex, your follow up care will be a little more involved than with breast augmentation with implants.

You will come in for your first follow up visit on the first day after your surgery. This will give us a chance to look at the blood supply to your skin and areola to be sure that everything is healing properly. Since you’ll have way more stitches (almost all of which are buried under your skin and will dissolve on their own rather than having to be removed), we will go over how to take care of your incisions at that point and will discuss how you feel and how to make sure that your scars heal as quickly and completely as possible.

We will see each other again at one week after surgery, two weeks, and four weeks, just like with breast implant surgery. You’ll almost certainly be able to return to work before a week is us, and most women can start back to full lower body exercises except squats or dead lifts at one week and will have no restrictions at all on exercise at two to three weeks, although you will still be a little swollen and might be slightly uncomfortable after a long day even up to a month after surgery.


What is the next step to take if you’re thinking about breast enhancement surgery?

If you are considering breast augmentation with implants or a breast lift, it is important to understand the differences between the two procedures. Both operations can make you feel more confident with your appearance, but they achieve this in different ways. Most patients are very happy with their outcome and can return to work and exercise in a short time, but it is important to follow postoperative instructions to get the best result . If you are interested in either of these procedures, now is a great time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Alton Ingram at Ingram Cosmetic Surgery in Nashville TN. Give our office a call at (615) 431-3710 to schedule your complimentary consultation. You’re going to love the way you look and feel!

Dr. ingram looking good with a nice suit | Ingram Cosmetic Surgery Nashville

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