The Surgeon Minute

Top 3 Factors to Determine if You Need a Breast Lift

Top 3 Factors to Determine if You Need a Breast Lift

 “Do I need a breast lift, or can I ‘get by’ with just a breast augmentation?” 

This is a common question plastic surgeons hear on a routine basis during a breast consultation.  Many women will schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon when they become unhappy with the look of their breasts. They’re looking for answers to questions about whether they need a breast lift or a breast augmentation. It may be their nipples are too low on the breast, they have too much loose skin, or maybe they’re not happy with the overall shape of their breasts.

PSC sat down for an interview with Dr. Tiffany McCormack, a board certified plastic surgeon from Reno, Nevada, about this universally perplexing question.

The Plastic Surgery Channel interviewsTiffany McCormack, MD
Tiffany McCormack, MD



PSC – How does the breast consultation begin?

TM – “When someone comes in to see me for a breast consult, I start by examining the breast and seeing where the nipple is relative to the crease under the breast, how much breast tissue they have, how lax the tissue is, and whether or not there is symmetry between the breasts.  It is equally important to have a discussion about what the patient is looking for.”

PSC – How do you determine if a woman needs a breast lift or a breast augmentation?

TM – “I think there are three general breast categories.  The first is a patient with a tight skin envelope and no ptosis or drooping of the breast with the nipple pointing relatively straight ahead. That patient typically does not need a lift and will do well with an implant alone.”

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“The second type of patient has a very droopy breast with nipples too low to lift with an implant alone.  It would take a large implant to fill out all of the loose, excess skin and that patient would ultimately end up with a really heavy breast down low on the chest. That type of patient typically needs a lift, no question.”

“Then, there’s the third kind of patient who comes in with a little bit of ptosis and a modest amount of breast tissue in whom I could probably get a good result either way; depending on the look that patient is going for. If that patient is looking for a higher, tighter, but not very large breast, then I will usually recommend a smaller implant with a lift. If they’re looking for a fair amount of volume and they’re not set on the breast being high, then I might recommend just having an implant.”

PSC – What can a breast lift accomplish?

TM – “A breast lift can move the nipple and areola higher, improve the shape of the breast, and achieve a tighter, firmer, or smoother look.”

PSC – You do a fair amount of revision breast surgeries on patients who have very large implants. What’s going on with this type of patient?

TM – “I think a fair number of patients probably came into a surgeon’s office at some point in their life resistant to a lift and were told ‘No problem, we’ll just fill up your breast with a large implant.’ Another scenario is when patients tell me they were never really talked to about size and were never talked to about a lift. These patients probably needed a breast lift in the beginning, but weren’t given the option. I use a Vectra 3D Imaging in my practice and I think that helps tremendously because I can often show a patient what they’ll look like with or without a lift.  After seeing what they would look like, they usually will move forward with a lift knowing it’s probably a better option when indicated.”

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