As plastic surgeons in Southern California, Dr. Dan Yamini and Dr. Steve Svehlak know firsthand the popularity of such procedures as breast augmentation and breast lifts. Los Angeles-area women are known practically the world over for ensuring they have the silhouette they want, especially given modern advances that make the surgeries safer and more effective than ever before.
Despite the prevalence of augmentations and lifts, however, the Sunset Cosmetic Surgery team still encounters patients who are unsure about what each surgery does (and does not) do.
Breast augmentation — frequently noted by research organizations as the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery in the United States year after year — is a procedure designed specifically to make breasts larger. The increase may be moderate or obvious, with specifics depending on the patient’s existing breast tissue and her aesthetic goals.
Most breast augmentation surgeries involve the insertion of implants, which vary in type, size, shape, and more. The procedure itself also has multiple variations, including incision placement and implant position.
Some augmentation patients choose fat transfer instead of implants. This involves harvesting fat from one area of the body, processing it, and injecting it into the breasts for a more subtle increase.
Plastic surgeons may also use harvested fat cells to ensure natural-looking contours in cases of augmentation with implants.
Women who choose breast augmentation may have lived with small breasts since they first developed, or may have seen their volume fluctuate downward after having children and going through months or years of breastfeeding.
A breast lift is designed to change the projection and perkiness of the breasts. While genetics can lead to drooping, sagging breasts — especially as women age and their skin loses its elasticity — the problem is particularly common to mothers who have nursed babies. Increases in volume that cause the skin to stretch (as with growing milk ducts) can leave that skin stretched out even after the volume reduces again.
Lifts typically involve removing some of this skin, which gives the breasts less “slack” and causes them to sit higher on the chest. Note that it does not significantly change the breasts’ volume, though the procedure may involve the removal of some fat cells to improve the breast shape and give gravity less to pull down on in the future.
Sagging breasts also tend to be breasts with nipples that point downward. For women with this problem, a breast lift may also include work on the nipples and even areola. Common elements include repositioning the nipples so that they aim outward instead of down and reducing the size of an enlarged areola.
Women who want to reduce the size of their breasts in addition to lifting them may opt for a simultaneous breast reduction. The two procedures work well together, since breasts that are smaller are less likely to further stretch the skin and hang like pendulums.
While augmentations and lifts are different surgeries, it is possible to also combine them for a combined increase in volume and improvement in projection and perkiness. Not every surgical option is available to every woman, however, so it is important to come into a consultation with a plastic surgeon with an open mind. In many cases, a woman’s aesthetic goals can be achieved, even if the procedures required to achieve them are not the ones she was envisioning.
A talented and experienced plastic surgeon will approach each case as unique, drawing on years of work to determine the best course of action for the patient. Whether desired contours can be realized with implants, fat transfer, a lift, a reduction, or some combination of techniques, the ultimate goal is a satisfied and healthy patient.