a photo of a woman wearing a bra having her chest measured with a tape measure

Is a Lift Part of a Breast Reduction?

Large breasts aren’t always a blessing, not just for aesthetic reasons, but for the pain and discomfort they bring. Breast reduction surgery alleviates these concerns and gives women a much-needed confidence boost. But we understand this procedure comes with questions, and at Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage and Battle Creek, MI, we want to provide all the answers you need.

Most providers, including those in our office, perform a breast lift with the reduction to ensure your bust looks firmer and more youthful. The effects of gravity cause large breasts to sag more visibly and quickly than smaller breasts. Without a lift, this effect would be more pronounced after eliminating excess breast tissue and fat.

This issue is similar to that of people who experience extreme weight loss and then have sagging skin that doesn’t snap back into place. In truth, a breast lift is usually a necessary component of the reduction to restore a more comfortable bust size and shape.

Good News

The good news is that lift and reduction surgeries go hand-in-hand, so they can be performed at the same time. This means that in one procedure, we will:

  • Remove unnecessary breast fat and skin
  • Reshape the breasts for better contouring
  • Reposition the nipple and areola for a perkier appearance
  • Reduce the areola, if desired

Although a lift is a secondary aspect of the reduction surgery, it’s a way for us to tighten skin around your newly-reduced tissue. Your breasts will then look more natural both in and out of your clothes.

The Differences Between a Lift and Reduction

Sometimes patients don’t know which of these procedures is right for them or confuse the purposes. Breast reduction is performed on more than 100,000 patients annually and focuses on making the breasts smaller. The tissues removed during this procedure include milk glands and fat for a true reduction in size.

A breast lift, on the other hand, does not remove fat or tissue. It only trims away excess skin to reshape and raise breasts. In turn, you see an improved silhouette without a reduction in cup size. Pairing the procedures – that is, having a reduction and lift together – gives you a tighter, smoother contour and smaller breasts.

Which Is Right for You?

Answering this question requires knowing what you want to achieve from surgery. If your chief concerns are sagging or drooping, a breast lift can help. If you want smaller breasts that also sit higher, a reduction is the right choice.

To further assist your decision, here are some common reasons women opt for only a breast lift:

  • They feel embarrassed because of sagging
  • Their breasts appear deflated because they have lost volume
  • Their nipples face downward
  • They have stretched skin caused by breastfeeding, weight gain, or aging
  • Their breasts have lost symmetry

Reasons for a Reduction

Just as women have common reasons for choosing a breast lift, they also have similar reasons for choosing a reduction. Among the most common are:

  • Reduced range of motion and physical activity
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Poor posture both when sitting and standing
  • Difficulty sleeping and breathing
  • Chronic skin chaffing beneath the breasts
  • Difficulty finding supportive and well-fitting clothing

Important Reduction Facts

At its most basic level, the goal of a reduction is to restore a woman’s personal comfort. The pain caused by oversized breasts can, in many instances, be unmanageable. And there’s no getting around the fact that a woman’s range of motion is severely inhibited by large breasts. We therefore strive to provide relief, and thanks to targeted techniques, patients experience minimal discomfort after surgery.

You Don’t Need to Meet a Size Threshold

This procedure does not require patients to meet a size threshold. It is, in fact, right for any woman who feels discomfort with her breasts. This means that if you have low-hanging or disproportionate breasts, regardless of size, you can benefit from this procedure. Additionally, if you have what might be considered a smaller cup size but still feel pain during exercise, your concerns are valid.

Breasts Change with Time

Breast reduction is not limited just to women who have experienced large breasts since a young age. Just the opposite; we understand that bodies change with time.

The breasts can similarly change in size and shape because of breastfeeding, weight gain, and gravity – and these changes can occur at any point. Therefore, a woman who had a smaller bust up until age 40 is as viable a candidate as a woman who has had larger breasts since her 20s.

Requires Less Time Than You Think

This procedure is neither time-consuming nor intense. It’s performed on an outpatient basis and takes roughly three hours. After you spend some time in recovery and feel alert, you are released to go home, where you can finish healing comfortably in your own environment.

Your activity will be restricted for about six weeks, although most patients return to work in just a week or two. You are encouraged to walk during this time and slowly ease back into your normal routine. Combined with healthful food, rest, and plenty of fluids, these recommendations can restore your normal energy levels well in advance of the six-week window.

Focuses on Shape Rather Than Size

Women link breast size to bra cup size, but reduction surgery works a little differently. This means that while it’s helpful to know the size you would like to achieve, it’s not necessarily possible. First and foremost, every apparel company manufactures bras a little differently, so cup size is not universal. Your ideal breast size also depends on your overall body shape, which we will consider when taking pre-surgery measurements.

We therefore encourage patients to find photos of women with bodies similar to their own and look at their breasts. Show to our staff the photos that most closely reflect how you want your breasts to look. This focus on shape, rather than size, is a better way to communicate your appearance goals.

May Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Few people realize this, but by reducing breast tissue, you also have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. This is not hypothetical but is instead substantiated by two peer-reviewed studies. Additionally, any tissues removed during the procedure are analyzed to ensure they are non-cancerous. Surgery can therefore be highly advantageous for women concerned about breast cancer.

You Will Need a Bra

Having smaller breasts may feel like you can finally go bra-free, but the hands of time still influence your skin and tissue. You will therefore continue needing a bra after surgery to limit the effects of gravity. This will help ensure long-lasting results and keep your breasts as smooth and lifted as possible.

For about the first month, we recommend you wear a bra 24 hours a day, except when showering or bathing. The reason? It helps support your healing tissues and actually enhances your personal comfort.

Very High Patient Satisfaction Rates

This surgery is, overall, a positive experience for most women. It brings a sense of relief and freedom that no other therapy can. And results are immediate; your incisions will be bandaged, and you’ll need to wear a bra throughout the day, but your breasts will instantly be smaller and lighter.

Keep in mind they will continue to heal and change in shape over an extended period of time, but the physical discomfort associated with heavy breasts will be gone. For all of these reasons, reduction yields one of the highest satisfaction rates of all cosmetic treatments.

Benefits of a Reduction

Once your breasts are more proportionate to the rest of your body, you will have no more physical limitations. You will once again be able to run, jump, and even swim without worrying about breast pain and movement.

Now is a good time to point out that breasts move independently of the rest of your body. This can cause excessive swaying and bouncing even when you’re doing something as simple as a household chore. Surgery can substantially reduce this movement so that you feel once more in control of your own body.

Bid Goodbye To Discomfort

Without the extra weight posed by an oversized bust, you’ll no longer feel pulled forward when you stand or sit. This eases the strain placed on your neck and shoulders and eases muscle aches. It also alleviates common back pain caused by impacts on posture and spinal curvature. In short, you’ll feel much better.

The same is true of skin irritation that commonly develops beneath breast creases. That irritation can be severe enough to limit not only what a woman can do, but also what she can wear. This, too, is relieved with smaller breasts, as they will no longer rub and chafe against the skin.

Greater Confidence

Large breasts can pose a real barrier between women and confidence. You may feel that others only see your breasts, and to compensate, you may try to hide your body with bulky clothing or a hunched posture. These are all signs of low self-esteem.

After surgery, you’ll feel lightened of physical and mental burdens. This can immediately boost your confidence as you enjoy a smaller and more proportionate bust that better suits your body.

Redefine Yourself

A woman with large breasts may feel compelled to define herself as just that. When you don’t feel good about your appearance, it’s difficult to have a positive body image. And constantly feeling the pain and tugging of oversized breasts does nothing to compensate for how you feel about yourself.

Now, imaging looking in the mirror and seeing your body for what it truly is. No longer masked by oversized breasts, you can see your true shape, your real size, and the new you. This is a great time to re-define yourself and learn more about who you really are.

Put Yourself First

Sometimes, it’s hard for women to put their needs above those of others, but this is an instance when you need to do just that. Whether you long to shop in a “normal” store for regular clothes, need to regain your confidence, or simply feel unhappy with your breast size, a reduction can help. You don’t have to worry about rumored boundaries of age or body shape history. Instead, we encourage all women who want to improve their range of motion and enjoy improved overall health to consider this surgery. Call Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage and Battle Creek, MI, today to learn more.


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