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Breast Lift vs Breast Augmentation: What’s The Difference?

With so many different surgical procedures available, and different terms used to describe them, it’s no wonder that sometimes people can be left feeling a little bit confused about which procedure is actually right for them. Whether you are considered breast surgery yourself or would just like to have a bit more information about the types of procedure available, this blog will explain the difference between breast augmentation and a breast lift.

Breast Augmentation

Technically the term refers to any procedure which augments, or changes, the breast but it is most commonly used in reference to breast implants or breast enlargement. Breast implants are one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries for women in the UK, as it makes is possible for women of all shapes and sizes to increase cup size and the fullness of their breasts. There are many different types, sizes and shapes of implant available and during your consultation your surgeon will help you decide which implant is best for you.

Surgery usually takes between one and three hours. The implants are inserted using one of three different insertion points: 1) Below the breast: the implant is inserted in the crease under the breast, the breast will then hang over the incision masking the scar, 2) Around the areola: a virtually scar-free area as the incision is made in area which, due to its colour and texture, renders the incision point barely visible, 3) Under the armpit: another virtually scar-free option as any residual scarring is not visible when the arms are no elevated. Working through the incision point, the surgeon will lift the breast tissue and skin to create a pocket and the implant is either placed directly behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. The implants are then cantered beneath your nipples, stitches are used to close the incisions and they may also be taped for extra support.

After surgery you will likely experience some drainage from the incisions and in some cases small drainage tubes may be inserted beneath the skin to prevent fluid build-up, but these will usually be removed before you are discharged from the hospital. To control swelling and help your skin better fit its new contours, you will be fitted with a supporting bra that you will need to wear day and night for six weeks following surgery. You will usually be able to resume normal activity within one week, and exercise after six.

Breast implants are also sometimes used for reconstructive surgeries, for example after a mastectomy.

Breast Lift

A common surgery, particularly with older women or after child birth, which lifts the breasts to make them look younger and perkier. Breasts change over time and a number of things can affect their size and shape, including pregnancy, breast feeding, weight fluctuations and gravity – which wears away the natural supportive tissue of the breast. Your age, breast size and shape and the condition of your skin will affect the results of your breast lift, and your surgeon will explain how during your consultation. Your surgeon will also measure your breasts and discuss the placement of the nipple and areola, which will be moved higher during surgery.

Breast lift surgery usually takes between one and half to three hours. The most common technique is to use an anchor shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast, which will outline the area from which breast skin will be removed and define the new location for the nipple and areola. Stitches are used to the close the incision and are usually around the areola, and then extend downwards in a vertical line and along the crease of the breasts. Patients with smaller breasts or less sagging may be suitable for procedures which use different incisions involved less extensive incisions.

After surgery your breasts will swollen, bruised and uncomfortable fora few days but you shouldn’t be in severe pain. You will wear an elastic bandage or sports bra over gauze and then after a few days this will replaced by a soft support bra, which you will need to wear day and night for three to four weeks over a layer of gauze. You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipple and breast skin caused by swelling after surgery. This usually resides within six weeks but for some patients it can take up to a year for sensation to return and occasionally the numbness is long lasting.

In some cases a breast lift is also combined with the use of implant, to restore fullness to the upper portion of the breast. If you opt for an implant then it will be inserted directly under the breast tissue or beneath the chest muscle. 

After surgery you will be given detailed information for your recovery. You should avoid lifting anything heavy above your head for three to four weeks, refrain from strenuous sports for around a month and you may have to avoid sex for a week or two. If you become pregnant this operation should not affect your ability to breast feed as the milk ducts and nipples will remain intact.

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