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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

Breast Lift With or Without Implants: How Do I Decide Which Way to Go?

If you’re unhappy with your breasts, you might be considering a breast lift — and you’re not alone! In fact, statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that breast lifts have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years — growing 70% since 2000

More than 100,000 breast lift procedures were performed by board-certified plastic surgeons in 2017, making them one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. This increase in popularity is because breast lifts are often considered safer than breast augmentations and can actually be done in concert with other procedures like breast augmentations and breast reductions to achieve the best possible results. 

What Is a Breast Lift?

A breast lift or a mastopexy is a cosmetic surgical procedure that is able to raise and lift the position of the breasts on the chest. During the procedure, excess skin is removed from the breasts, and the remaining skin is tightened to provide a lifted and more aesthetically-appealing shape. Generally speaking, a breast lift on its own does not involve the use of implants and does not dramatically increase breast size. That being said, a breast lift can still provide significant improvement to your overall breast appearance and contour — leaving you feeling more youthful and confident as a result. 

A breast lift is a great solution to breasts that are sagging, breasts that are uneven, or areolas that are enlarged. These are common occurrences in women that have experienced pregnancy, breastfeeding, dramatic weight loss, or simply aging. 

Who Is a Good Candidate for a Breast Lift?

Sure, a breast lift sounds amazing, but it’s not the best option for everyone. A breast lift can be a beneficial procedure for you if you are unhappy with your breasts’ general appearance due to things like sagging, unevenness, flatness, and proportion issues. On the other hand, a breast lift might not be the best option for you if you plan on having a baby, breastfeeding, or losing weight in the near future. Finally, a breast lift would be a risky procedure if you are overweight, smoke, or have chronic medical conditions. 

Overall, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your breasts and are unsure of your options, we recommend that you set up a consultation with a reputable and experienced plastic surgeon, like Dr. Robert Applebaum in Beverly Hills. A board-certified surgeon will be able to assess your personal situation and determine the best solution. 

Implants vs. No Implants

Believe it or not, but the popularity growth of breast lifts has far outpaced the popularity growth of breast augmentations despite the latter being the most common cosmetic procedure in the United States. This is because breast lifts are commonly done in concert with breast augmentations so that patients can increase the size and improve the overall profile of their breasts at the same time! 

That being said, there are real benefits to simply undergoing a breast lift without the use of implants. For example, breast implants don’t last forever and need to be replaced or removed after ten to fifteen years — so you’re essentially looking at more than one surgery as a result. Additionally, there are potential complications involved in the use of implants, such as implant rupture, changed implant position, scar tissue forming around the implant, and persistent pain.

While there are also potential complications involved in a breast lift procedure, it’s a less risky and complicated procedure since you’re not putting a foreign object into your body. Potential risks of a breast lift procedure include changes in nipple or breast sensation, breast asymmetry, and fluid accumulation. 

However, surgical risks can be largely mitigated by choosing an experienced plastic surgeon, following your surgeon’s pre-op and post-op instructions, and attending all of your follow-up appointments to ensure that you’re healing properly. 

How to Choose?

The choice to get a breast lift with or without implants really comes down to the look you’re going for. If you want to increase the size of your breasts, then you should go with implants. Alternatively, if you simply want to improve your breasts’ shape and profile while maintaining your current size, a breast lift alone could provide you with your desired results. In any case, be sure to consult with a plastic surgeon about your goals and concerns to choose the best course of action. 

What Is the Recovery Process Like?

A breast lift is an invasive surgical procedure that will involve a great deal of healing and recovery. You may experience numbness or soreness around the incision sites for up to six months. You should expect your breasts to be swollen, painful, and bruised for about two weeks, during which you should avoid sexual activity. You should also be sure to wear your surgical support bra as directed and sleep on your back to keep pressure off the affected area. 

Additionally, you should stay off your feet for the first few days after the procedure and get as much rest as possible. Avoid bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects that may negatively impact your incision site. Also, be sure to take all medications as directed in your post-op instructions, including antibiotics and pain medications. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the choice of whether to get a breast lift with or without implants is totally up to you. That being said, speaking with a plastic surgeon is the best approach to weigh out the different options and choose the one that will best help you achieve your desired look. 


Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum

Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.


  1. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/stats-show-growth-of-breast-lifts-outpacing-breast-implants-2-to-1
  2. https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/breast/breast-lift-guide/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-lift/about/pac-20393218

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