Breast Reduction vs Breast Lift

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: April 12, 2024

What Procedure is Right for Me: Breast Reduction vs Breast Lift

Choosing between a Breast Reduction (reduction mammaplasty) and a Breast Lift (Mastopexy) involves understanding the technical distinctions and personal preferences. In terms of breast reduction, the procedure involves removing excess tissue that has been stretched or loosened over time, followed by lifting the skin and gland, technically termed reduction. On the other hand, a breast lift entails elevating the skin and gland without removing any glandular tissue. This differentiation is important because some patients may prefer not to have any glandular or breast tissue removed. The decision between opting for a Breast Reduction vs Breast Lift also depends on the patient’s profile, including their age and specific desires.

In this blog, Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim will discuss the differences between breast reduction vs breast lift to make it easier for you to get an idea about what procedure would be recommended for your particular case.

Download Dr Lim’s 2024 Breast Reduction Surgery Guide

Breast Reduction Guide

What Is Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty)?

Breast reduction surgery is designed to help women who suffer from the physical burden of overly large breasts. The primary goal is to reduce their size and weight, making them more proportionate to the rest of the body and alleviating discomfort. By removing excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin, the surgery offers a solution that can improve physical health. The candidate for breast reduction is experiencing physical discomfort or health issues due to the size of their breasts. Symptoms may include chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, skin irritation, and even breathing difficulties. Women who find their activities and lifestyle choices limited by the size of their breasts also often seek this surgery. It is important that candidates have realistic expectations and understand both the benefits and the limitations of the procedure.

Benefits of Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty)

The physical benefits of breast reduction are significant. Many women report immediate relief from chronic pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. The reduction of skin irritation and infections under the breast fold is another key advantage. Furthermore, the surgery can improve the ability to engage in physical activities, leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle.

The Breast Reduction Procedure

The breast reduction procedure starts with the administration of anaesthesia for comfort during the operation. Dr Lim then makes precise incisions, through which excess fat, tissue, and skin are removed. The nipple and areola might be repositioned to a more natural height to complement the new breast size. The final steps involve closing the incisions, which reshapes the breasts into their smaller, lighter form.

Dr Jake Lim employs various techniques based on the individual’s needs and goals. The traditional approach involves a keyhole or anchor-shaped incision to remove tissue and reposition the nipple. Liposuction may also be used to remove excess fat, offering a less invasive option for some patients.

Recovery from breast reduction surgery involves a period of rest and limited movement to promote healing. Immediately after the surgery, dressings or bandages are applied to the incisions, and a support bra may be recommended to minimise swelling and support the breasts as they heal. The initial recovery phase is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome.

Patients can expect to see a noticeable difference in the size and weight of their breasts immediately after recovery. Most women report significant relief from the physical discomfort associated with larger breasts.

Risks and Considerations of Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty)

Like all surgical procedures, breast reduction carries certain risks, including infection, bleeding, and changes in nipple or breast sensation. Scarring is also a consideration, though most scars will fade over time. Choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon and following post-operative care instructions carefully can help reduce these risks.

It’s important to consider the potential impact on future breast feeding and the possibility of needing revision surgery. While breast reduction can provide lasting benefits, changes in weight or hormonal fluctuations, such as those during pregnancy, can alter the results.

Download Dr Lim’s Breast Lift Surgery Guide

Breast Lift Guide

What Is Breast Lift (Mastopexy)?

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure aimed at elevating and firming the breasts. Over time, factors such as gravity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weight fluctuations can cause the breasts to lose their elasticity, shape, and firmness. The goal of a breast lift is to raise the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour, resulting in a more uplifted appearance.

The candidates for a breast lift are those who are satisfied with the volume of their breasts but are looking to improve their position and shape. Women experiencing sagging or who have nipples that point downward are often good candidates. It’s crucial for individuals to have stable weight and realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve. Good overall health and a non-smoker status are also important for the healing process.

Benefits of Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

A breast lift can significantly alter the appearance of the breasts. By removing excess skin and reshaping the breast tissue, the procedure can improve breast symmetry and projection. The nipples and areolae can also be repositioned or resized to better match the newly shaped breasts.

The Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Procedure

The breast lift procedure typically begins with anaesthesia to ensure comfort throughout the surgery. Incisions are made following a pattern that depends on the individual’s specific conditions and the extent of the lift required. Common incision patterns include around the areola, down from the areola to the breast crease, and horizontally along the breast crease. Through these incisions, Dr Lim removes excess skin, lifts and reshapes the breast tissue, and repositions the nipple and areola.

The technique chosen for a breast lift depends on the individual’s breast size and shape, the extent of sagging, and their desired outcome. The peri-areolar lift, suitable for those with mild sagging, involves incisions around the areola. The vertical lift, for moderate sagging, includes incisions around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease. The inverted T lift is used for significant sagging and involves an additional horizontal incision along the breast crease.

The initial recovery from a breast lift involves swelling and discomfort that can be managed with medication. Most individuals can return to work and normal activities within a week or two, although strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least a month. Following Dr Lim’s post-operative care instructions is crucial for a smooth recovery and optimal healing.

After a breast lift, patients can expect their breasts to be higher on the chest and firmer to the touch, with an improved shape and contour. The results are immediately visible, though it may take several months for the final outcome to fully develop as swelling subsides and the breast tissue settles.

Risks and Considerations of Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

As with any surgical procedure, a breast lift comes with potential risks, including scarring, changes in nipple or breast sensation, and asymmetry between the breasts. Complications such as bleeding and infection are possible but rare when the surgery is performed by a qualified surgeon.

The results of a breast lift are long-lasting, but not permanent. Ageing, gravity, and changes in weight can eventually affect the appearance of the breasts. Maintaining a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle can help prolong the results of the surgery.

Comparing Breast Reduction and Breast Lift

Breast reduction and breast lift surgeries address different concerns and have distinct goals and outcomes. The primary objective of breast reduction is to decrease the size and weight of the breasts to alleviate physical discomfort and achieve a breast size more proportionate to the body. It involves the removal of breast tissue, fat, and skin. This procedure is often sought by individuals experiencing physical symptoms like back pain, skin irritation, and restricted physical activity due to the size of their breasts.

In contrast, a breast lift focuses on improving the position and shape of the breasts without significantly altering their size. The goal is to counteract sagging and restore a more uplifted breast profile by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue. Good candidates for a breast lift are generally satisfied with the volume of their breasts but are looking to improve sagging and droopiness.

How to Choose the Right Procedure for You

Choosing between breast reduction and breast lift involves a thorough evaluation of your personal goals, physical symptoms, and the professional advice of a qualified plastic surgeon. Here are some considerations to help make the decision:

  • Assess Your Primary Concern: If your main issue is the size of your breasts and you’re experiencing physical discomfort, a breast reduction might be the most appropriate choice. If sagging and loss of shape are your primary concerns without much regard to size, a breast lift could be the better option
  • Consider Physical Symptoms: Individuals suffering from neck, back, or shoulder pain due to the weight of their breasts may benefit more from a reduction
  • Think About the Desired Outcome: If achieving a smaller breast size is a goal, breast reduction will address both size and position. If you’re satisfied with your breast volume but want a perkier appearance, a lift may suffice
  • Consult with Dr Lim: A consultation with Dr Jake Lim is crucial. He can evaluate your anatomy, discuss your aesthetic goals, and recommend the most suitable procedure based on your body and preferences

FAQs about Breast Reduction vs Breast Lift


Can breast reduction and breast lift be done at the same time?

  • Yes, breast reduction and breast lift can often be combined into a single procedure. This is a common approach for individuals seeking to reduce the size of their breasts while also addressing sagging to achieve a more lifted, firmer appearance. During the consultation, Dr Lim will assess your goals and physical condition to determine if a combined procedure is suitable for you.

How long do the results of a breast reduction or breast lift last?

  • The results of both breast reduction and breast lift surgeries are long-lasting but not immune to the effects of aging, gravity, and lifestyle changes such as weight fluctuations and pregnancy. Maintaining a stable weight and healthy lifestyle can help extend the results. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that changes in breast appearance can occur over time.

Will there be visible scars after a breast reduction or breast lift?

  • Both procedures involve incisions, which means there will be scars. However, the extent and visibility of scarring depend on the specific technique used and your body’s healing process. Proper post-operative care is crucial for minimising scarring.

Are breast reduction and breast lift covered by health insurance?

  • Breast reduction is more likely to be covered by health insurance than a breast lift, especially if it’s performed to alleviate medical symptoms such as back pain, neck pain, or skin irritation. Coverage varies by insurance provider and policy, so it’s essential to check with your insurance company. In contrast, a breast lift is usually considered a cosmetic procedure and is less likely to be covered.

How do I decide between breast reduction and breast lift?

  • Deciding between breast reduction and breast lift involves considering your primary concerns, desired outcomes, and consulting with Dr Jake Lim. If the size of your breasts causes physical discomfort or limits your lifestyle, a breast reduction might be the right choice. If you’re satisfied with your breast size but want to improve sagging and achieve a more elevated appearance, a breast lift may be more appropriate.

Further Reading about Breast Reduction and Breast Lift with Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Breast Reduction vs Breast Lift

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.