What’s the Difference Between a Breast Reduction and a Breast Lift?


At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we hear from a number of women who are dissatisfied with their breasts. Sometimes, the issue is too little volume; in other instances, the problem is too much volume. In some cases, the problem has nothing to do with the size of the breasts and everything to do with their shape. Some of our patients have never been happy with the appearance of their breasts, while others became dissatisfied only after having children.

No matter the nature of your dissatisfaction, there is likely a solution that can help you achieve the breasts you’ve always wanted. The first step in the process is meeting with one of our surgeons to determine which procedure is most closely aligned with your goals.

Difference Between a Breast Reduction and a Breast Lift

Our purpose today is to take a look at the difference between a breast reduction and a breast lift, two procedures that are popular among our patients. It’s important to understand that these are very different operations with very different results; some patients will want to choose one over the other, while others will want to have both procedures performed at the same time. (More on that point later.)

To begin with, let’s take a look at each procedure individually, highlighting their specific goals and underscoring the key difference between a breast reduction and a breast lift.

What is a Breast Reduction?

Some women come to us because they feel like their breasts are simply too big; for these women, we tend to recommend a breast reduction surgery. The procedure is just what its name suggests… a way to remove some of the volume from your breasts.

How much volume, exactly? That depends on a number of factors, including the current size and composition of your breasts. Patients can expect to go down somewhere between one and two cup sizes. You can ask your surgeon for a more specific estimate, based on your personal needs and goals.

There are several signs that indicate you’re a good candidate for a breast reduction surgery. Some of these indicators include:

  • You struggle with back, shoulder, or neck pain due to the volume of your breasts.
  • You have permanent indention in your shoulders, left there by your bra straps.
  • You have rashes or irritation on the underside of your breasts.
  • You have a difficult time finding clothing that fits you.

We always like to note that breast reduction surgery comes with an extremely high rate of patient satisfaction. Most women who have this procedure performed are immensely pleased, and report immediate relief; indeed, it’s a literal weight being removed, and offers a considerable boost in comfort.

What is a Breast Lift?

difference between a breast reduction and a breast lift

Breast reduction is all about the volume of the breasts, but a breast lift is more concerned with shape.

When you have a breast lift performed, the surgeon will alter the overall appearance of the breasts, typically repositioning the nipple. This is a procedure we recommend for women who have noticed some “sagging,” whether due to age, maternity, or breastfeeding. It’s a way to have your breasts look younger and “perkier.”

Which Surgery is Right for Me?

The primary difference between a breast reduction and a breast lift, then, is the objective: The former is intended for women looking to lose some volume, and the latter is intended for women who want to alter the shape and overall appearance of their breasts.

For all this talk about the difference between a breast reduction and a breast lift, it’s worth noting that there are also some similarities. Both procedures will come with some minimal scarring, which will usually fade quite a bit during the first year. Both operations can be done in a matter of hours, and patients will typically be sent home on the same day. And, both surgeries will come with some down time, usually two or three days of rest. We generally recommend patients give it a full month before they get back to vigorous exercise or strenuous activity.

Something else we want to emphasize is that you don’t have to pick just one procedure. You can have both done at once. In fact, most women who have a breast reduction end up having a breast lift at the same time. This “two for one” option is quite common, and you can ask your surgeon if that’s what’s ultimately best for you.

Indeed, as you think about getting a breast reduction, a breast lift, or both, the best thing you can do is come talk with one of our surgeons. During your consultation appointment, we’ll talk with you about your goals, set the right expectations, and answer any questions you might have.

We’re also happy to talk with you about whether you’re a good candidate for a safe, effective breast procedure. The physical wellbeing of our patients is the most important thing, and we only recommend surgery for women who are generally healthy and have a sustainable lifestyle. We may also caution against having breast procedures performed if you still think you might have children, or if you’re not done breastfeeding.

One breast procedure we haven’t mentioned is the breast augmentation. This is for women who wish to add volume, whether by implant or fat transfer. This, too, can be done in conjunction with a breast lift; if that’s more in line with your cosmetic goals, we’d be happy to chat with you about what a breast augmentation entails.

Schedule a Consultation with Charlotte Plastic Surgery Today

Breast lifts and breast reductions can both help you achieve your desired look and improve your quality of life. And, both are relatively easy to bounce back from, especially if you’re in good shape.

Whether you’re unsure which procedure is right for you or simply want to obtain more information, we welcome you to contact Charlotte Plastic Surgery. We are one of the most trusted cosmetic surgery providers in the area, and we have ample experience helping women achieve the breasts of their dreams. Contact us today to make an appointment.