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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

Is There a Difference Between Breast Augmentation Surgery and a Lift?

If you’re insecure about your breasts, you may be considering a breast augmentation or a breast lift. However, these are two distinct procedures that address different issues. Here’s what you need to know about each to choose the best option for your concerns and goals.  

What Is a Breast Augmentation Surgery?

A breast augmentation surgery involves placing implants into the breast area to increase the size of the breasts while also improving shape. This surgery may involve an incision under the fold of the breast, in the armpit, or around the nipple. 

There are two different types of implants that are used in this procedure: silicone and saline. There are pros and cons to each but they are both FDA-approved to be safe and last for many years. 

While a breast augmentation procedure allows you to effectively choose the implant size for your new breasts, most surgeons offer multiple options but generally recommend not  going any larger than two cup sizes bigger than your current size for a more natural and beneficial result. 

What Is Breast Lift Surgery?

Breast lift surgery involves reshaping the breasts to address loss of volume and drooping of the breasts — occurrences that are common after childbirth or substantial weight loss. This surgery may involve an incision around the nipple, straight down the breast, and/or straight across the fold of the breast. 

On some cases an implant is used in combination with a breast lift.  To insert the breast implant, your plastic surgeon will make a single cut (incision) in one of three places: The crease under your breast (inframammary incisions), under your arm (transaxillary incisions), or around your nipple (periareolar incisions). 

The breast implant is inserted into a pocket. There are two types of placement: A submuscular placement, which goes under the pectoral muscle and a submammary, or subglandular placement, which  goes behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle.

A board-certified plastic surgeon will be able to choose the right approach to your breast lift depending on your degree of sagging, your existing breast volume, and your goals in terms of shape and placement. This procedure will provide you with more natural, but still noticeable and youthful results. 

What’s the Difference Between Breast Augmentation Surgery and Breast Lifts?

The difference between breast augmentation and a breast lift comes down to volume. A breast augmentation adds volume with no lifting  through implants whereas a breast lift addresses mostly breast skin and breast tissue droppings with loss of volume. A breast lift is done to address sagging breasts whereas a breast augmentation is done to mostly increase the size of the breasts.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

Pros of a Breast Augmentation Surgery

  • Substantially improve breast size (volume)
  • Maintain a natural feel of the breasts
  • Results in minimal scarring

Cons of a Breast Augmentation Surgery

  • It may come with more complications since foreign bodies are being implanted into the body
  • Requires more maintenance as implants need to be replaced after a period of time ranging from ten to twenty five years
  • Implant rupture is possible

Some risks include capsular contracture (scar tissue that distorts the shape of the breast implant), or a breast pain infection (changes in nipple and breast sensation). 

Most of your discomfort can be controlled by medication prescribed by your doctor.

Pros of a Breast Lift Surgery

  • Improves the position and shape of the breasts
  • Maintain a natural look and feel of the breasts
  • Provides long-term results that can last for decades

Cons of a Breast Lift Surgery

  • May leave you with more scarring that can be hidden but may remain visible without clothing
  • May involve a more intense and extensive recovery process
  • The results may diminish over time or change due to weight changes or pregnancy 

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Each Type of Surgery?

A breast augmentation surgery with implants is FDA-approved for healthy patients who meet certain age requirements. The minimum age for saline implants is 18 and the minimum age for silicone implants is 22. This surgery is ideal for patients looking to increase the overall size of their breasts to improve volume and shape. 

On the other hand, a breast lift surgery is ideal for patients looking to improve the position and placement of the breasts without adding volume. A breast lift is a more natural alternative to a breast augmentation. This procedure would work well for those that already have a good amount of natural breast tissue but deal with issues like sagging, drooping, or mild asymmetry. 

Can These Two Surgeries Be Combined?

While it may seem that a breast augmentation and a breast lift are two separate surgeries, they can actually be combined for amazing results. Getting a breast augmentation and a breast lift can improve both the fullness and the perkiness of breasts. 

This surgical option is especially beneficial for mothers who have been through pregnancy, childbirth, and/or breastfeeding. All three of these experiences can affect the fullness and perkiness of the breasts due to a loss of shape and volume. To address these issues, a breast augmentation can be performed to add volume and a breast lift can be performed to improve shape and position. 

How To Choose the Right Option

The best way to determine the right surgical option for you is to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon. A plastic surgeon will be able to assess your breasts and discuss your concerns to come up with the right surgical solution. 

That being said, not all plastic surgeons are created equal. For the best results, you need a reputable and experienced professional. 

Dr. Applebaum is a world-renowned and highly respected board-certified plastic surgeon with nearly 30 years of experience that has helped countless patients address their insecurities and boost their confidence. 

He believes in beautiful and natural results with as few incisions and visible scars as possible. Thanks to these beliefs, he was nominated as one of the Best Breast Surgeons in America in 2016. 

Getting Started

Now that you know more about breast augmentations and breast lifts, it’s time to take the next step and schedule a surgical consultation so that you can achieve the type of look and feel that you’ve been dreaming of. 

Reach out to our Beverly Hills office today to schedule a virtual or in-person consultation


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.


Breast Augmentation | Mayo Clinic

Types of Breast Implants | FDA

Breast Lift | American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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