Breast Augmentation vs. Breast Lift: How to Choose the Right Procedure for You

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For many women, their breasts play a notable role in the way they view their bodies. Not only can their size and shape affect a woman’s self-image and personal confidence, but certain breast issues can lead to back pain and other uncomfortable health concerns.

There are many methods women use to address breast-related issues, but two of the most common include breast augmentation and breast lift procedures.

What Is a Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation (augmentation mammoplasty) is one of the most common types of plastic surgery. The procedure generally involves enhancing a woman’s breast size, shape, and “perkiness” via the use of implants. When people use the colloquial term “boob job,” this is usually what they’re talking about.

Women seeking a breast augmentation procedure most often are seeking  to increase the overall size of the breasts. Many women after pregnancy, breast feeding, weight loss and aging want to restore the lost fullness of the breasts. The breasts may also be different in size. Breast augmentation is sought for all of these reasons.  Women are not always looking for an aesthetic increase their bust size. Many women choose this procedure to rebuild or reconstruct breasts that have been affected by various conditions because it helps them feel most like themselves.

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When considering breast augmentation, the following are important decisions that will need to be made:

  1. Type of implant:  Choosing between saline versus silicone. Saline implants are less expensive than silicone.  Silicone implants have a more natural realistic feel and are a better choice for women that have very little natural breast tissue. 
  2. Implant size and shape. The size of the implant will depend upon the size and fullness that you wish to achieve combined with your own breast, chest and body size.  The shape or style of the implant selected will depend upon your present shape and your desired appearance. Dr. Williams uses the newest 3-D and Virtual Reality technology so that you can see your actual appearance with the size and shape of implants that you select.
  3. Incision and implant placement. The most common incisions are in the natural lower crease of the breast (infra-mammary), around the lower edge of the areola (peri-areola) and in the armpit (trans-axillary). Each incision has advantages and disadvantages.  Greater than 85% of all implants are placed under the chest wall muscle instead of on top of the muscle. Both implant placements also have advantages and disadvantages. 
  4. Benefits and risks. Achieving your goals with breast augmentation has possible complications that can include; anesthetic risks, bleeding, infection, change or loss of nipple and or breast sensation, implant mal position, scarring around the implant (capsular contraction) and possible revision surgery

What Breast Augmentation Can’t Do.

Breast augmentation will not correct or elevate markedly drooping and sagging breasts. Breast augmentation may accentuate already sagging breasts. Breast augmentation will not lift nipples that are well below the lower natural breast crease. 

What Is a Breast Lift?

A breast lift (mastopexy) raises and reshapes the breast and nipple areola by removing excess skin and restores a more youthful firmness to the breasts. Instead of focusing on enhancing the size of the breasts, a breast lift (mastopexy) focuses on raising and improving the shape and appearance of the breasts and nipples. The idea is to re-introduce the “perk” factor to the breasts and improve the natural look without using implants.

The procedure is a common choice among women who are older, women who have lost a great deal of weight, women whose breasts have sagged after pregnancy/breastfeeding, heredity and women whose nipples point downward.

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What a Breast Lift Can’t Do.

A breast lift will not increase the size or fullness of the breasts.

Deciding Which Type of Procedure Is Best for You

Breast surgery is a very personal decision that deserves a fair amount of thought. If you know you want to address your breast concerns but can’t quite decide between a breast lift or breast augmentation, consider the following factors.

Identify Your Primary Areas of Concern

The first and most important step is to decide upon what you want to achieve as your realistic goal. 

If it is to have larger, fuller and more symmetrical breasts, then breast augmentation will give you the desired result. 

If you want to improve sagging and drooping and restore a more youthful, natural, firmer and perkier appearance without a change in breast size, then a breast lift is the procedure for that.

If you want to have larger and fuller breasts, but also have sagging of the breasts or low position of the nipples and want to have a more youthful uplifted and perky breast shape, this can be achieved with a combined procedure of breast augmentation and breast lift.

What Are Your Motivations?

All too often, we ignore the underlying reasons for our decisions, especially when it comes to our appearance. Are you seeking a procedure to improve your own comfort and confidence, or are you doing it for other reasons? If you’d be happy with a breast lift but your partner is pressuring you to get implants, think about what your most authentic self would want, not what others would like you to be.

Weigh Cost and Value

The cost of a breast lift or breast augmentation will vary, depending on a number of things, such as the clinic, the nature/intensity of the procedure, any relevant insurance coverage, etc. As of 2018, the average cost of a breast augmentation surgery was $3,824 and the average cost of a breast lift was $4,816.

Think about the value of the procedure, too; if you have a consultation and one option is more expensive than the other, is the additional money worth it to you? If the benefits of the more procedure outweigh the financial cost, it may be a better value than simply choosing the cheaper option.

Consider the Risks

Every surgical procedure has risks that need to be considered. Both breast lifts and augmentations have the potential for things like anesthesia problems, infections, scarring, hematoma, and other complications. Augmentations also have a risk of implant leakage, which could lead to serious illness if they are filled with silicone. Depending on what’s being done, there may be a risk of losing nerve sensitivity in the nipples or the breast skin.

Your surgeon can discuss the risks related to your various options during your consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any particular worries.

Breast Lift and Breast Augmentation: What to Expect

Both breast lift and breast enhancement surgery proceed in stages, starting with a professional consultation and ending with a period of recovery and follow-up. Take a look at what you can expect at each of these stages for both procedures.

Doctor measuring woman's breas


At the very beginning of the process, you’ll meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss your concerns and explore your options. In many cases, the consultation can help guide you toward a particular solution. If your surgeon feels that it will largely come down to personal choice, don’t be afraid to ask further questions or consult with them again.


Before breast augmentation or breast lift, you’ll need to be cleared as healthy enough for the procedure. Once you’re approved, you can begin arranging for things like time off from work, transportation, childcare, and post-surgery assistance. In the final weeks before your surgery, you’ll need to abstain from drinking, smoking, or taking certain medications.

Your surgeon will discuss other specifics of your preparation with you and give you a timeline of things to take care of as the big day approaches.

On the Day of Surgery

When you go in for surgery, wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that you can easily put on again after surgery (zip-front shirts are ideal). You should also avoid wearing contacts, makeup, and jewelry. 


During recovery, it’s very important that you have help (care giver) so that you rest properly and follow instructions carefully to avoid complications. Your movement will be limited, and you will need help when it comes to caring for your child, pets and daily living activities. Detailed instruction is given so that you achieve your best possible result.

Explore Your Plastic Surgery Options with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. John V.  Williams

Dr. John V. Williams, and the team at the JW Plastic Surgery Center have helped many women boost their confidence and restore breast function with enhancement and/or reconstruction procedures. We pride ourselves on helping patients make well-informed decisions that will lead to the best possible results.

No matter the reasons you’re considering a breast lift or breast augmentation, we’d be happy to discuss your concerns and help you understand your surgical options. Start by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Williams today at (225) 320-5353. 




* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.