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Should You Get A Breast Lift Or Breast Augmentation?

greyscale photo of woman in a coat

For many women, changes to the breasts — whether due to age, pregnancy or breastfeeding, or rapid weight gain or loss — may be a source of insecurity, leading to low self-esteem and self-confidence. In all of these cases, you may choose to undergo a breast lift or breast augmentation, to address changes to the breasts and boost self-image and confidence. However, whether you choose a breast lift or breast augmentation depends on a number of factors, including the types of concerns you are addressing.

Whether you choose a breast lift or a breast augmentation, it’s important to plan for your surgery well in advance. Both types of plastic surgery require recovery time, so you should be able to take time to rest after your surgery to ensure a complication-free, full recovery, without compromising results.

Why Do People Choose To Have Breast Surgery?

There are a number of reasons why you might wish to have a cosmetic procedure performed on your breasts. You may notice that your breasts have begun to sag or lose volume due to age, which can affect your silhouette, as well as the way clothing fits on your upper body. If you have recently given birth or have recently finished breastfeeding, you may have experienced natural changes to your breasts due to pregnancy, including changes to symmetry, sagging, and changes in the positioning of the nipple. Many women who lose or gain a significant amount of weight in a short time also experience changes to their breasts.

You may also simply be unhappy with the way your breasts look. If your breasts are noticeably asymmetrical, this may affect your overall proportions and silhouette in ways that make you self-conscious. Many women with small breasts choose breast surgery to increase their breast size, in order to achieve more pleasing or balanced proportions.

There is no “wrong” reason to choose breast enhancement surgery. Your surgeon will discuss your desired outcomes in your consultation, which will help you determine whether a breast lift or breast augmentation is the right surgery for you.

What Is A Breast Lift?

A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a procedure that corrects breast sagging or drooping breast tissue, eliminates excess breast skin, and restores a more youthful appearance to your breasts. It may be done to restore the natural lift and tightness that is often lost with age, weight loss or gain, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. Through the removal of excess skin and the reshaping of breast tissue, your plastic surgeon can help you regain your breasts’ shape, which will help boost your confidence and body image.

Breast lift surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on the recommendation of Dr. Bell, and the SpaMedica team. Different types of breast lifts involve incisions made around the areola, from the crease of the breast over the nipple, and/or horizontally along the breast crease.

There are four different types of breast lift procedures.

  • A crescent lift, which is the least invasive type of procedure, elevates the nipple position by removing a crescent-shaped section of skin above it.
  • A donut lift requires fewer incisions than a traditional breast lift, and only involves one incision around the areola.
  • A lollipop lift, which is often used to correct sagging breasts and downward-pointing nipples, involves a vertical incision from the crease of the breast, over the nipple.
  • An anchor lift requires an incision similar to the lollipop lift and also along the breast crease. It is the most invasive of the four breast lift types and is often chosen for patients with very significant sagging.

What Is A Breast Augmentation?

A breast augmentation, also known as a “boob job,” is a surgical procedure that uses implantable devices (breast implants) to enhance the size, volume, shape, and projection of breasts to create a more balanced, shapely, curvy, and natural and attractive figure.

At SpaMedica, you will be able to see how you will look after your breast augmentation procedure using the VECTRA® 3-D machine, which shows you your figure in 3D with the implants you have chosen in consultation with Dr. Bell. This helps eliminate the risk of selecting the wrong size or shape of breast implant.

During your initial consultation, Dr. Bell will discuss the options available to you and advise on the type of implant and the best incision point to match your goal. Types of incisions include the through-the-armpit approach (both under the pectoralis major muscle and on top), around-the-areola, under-the-breast, and trans-umbilical breast augmentation procedures.

Breast implant surgery is often completed in 60 minutes or less. It is an outpatient procedure performed under light IV sedation or general anesthesia.

What Are The Breast Implants Made Of?

Breast implants come in two types: saline or silicone.

  • Saline implants have a silicone outer shell that is filled with a sterile saltwater (saline) solution. The implant can be inserted empty and filled with the solution once it has been surgically placed through incisions, which can be much smaller than those made for silicone implants. These incisions can be made in the armpit or the areola.
  • The silicone breast implant is the most popular option chosen by breast implant Toronto patients, and is known for its natural appearance and feel. Silicone implants are pre-filled with semi-solid silicone gel, a cohesive fluid that feels similar to human fat. Because these implants are prefilled, they are typically inserted through an under-the-breast incisional approach, called the IMF, or infra-mammary fold incision.

Is There A Way To Get Natural Looking Breast Implants?

There are a number of steps you can take to get the most natural-looking breast implants possible. First, it is important to choose a suitable breast implant size. While it may be tempting to choose a large size, an implant that is disproportionate to your body frame, or one that is much larger than your natural breasts, may result in an appearance that is not natural. An implant that is too small, meanwhile, may not complement your existing curves.

It is also important to choose the correct placement for your breast implants and choose the right implant shape. A round breast implant, which is symmetrical and round, flat in the middle, and available in saline and silicone, is the most common implant shape. They create a very natural-looking result, mainly because the saline or silicone within the implant settles when standing, resulting in a breast shape that is wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. Teardrop-shaped implants, also known as anatomical implants, are thin at the top and full at the bottom, and create a natural result due to their shape. The shape of your implant will ultimately depend on the shape and size of your natural breasts, and your desired outcome. You may also consider adding a breast lift to your breast augmentation for higher and firmer breasts.

before and after photo of a woman's breasts

How Do The Two Procedures Differ?

A breast augmentation is mainly performed to increase the size, volume, and projection of your breasts. In contrast, a breast lift may be performed to eliminate excess breast skin, decrease sagging, and restore a more youthful appearance to your breasts. Both procedures can be performed under general anesthesia (though a breast augmentation may also be performed under light IV sedation) and require a plastic surgeon to make incisions on or around the breast.

Can You Get A Breast Lift With A Breast Augmentation?

Yes, you can get a breast lift with a breast augmentation. These two surgeries are highly complementary. Many women find that having a breast lift in addition to a breast augmentation results in higher, firmer, and more natural-looking breasts, which create a more natural and pleasing silhouette.

Choosing The Right Procedure For You

Whether you choose breast augmentation or breast lift — or both — depends on your areas of concern and your desired outcomes.

Identifying Areas Of Concern

Independently and with the help of your plastic surgeon, identify what parts of your breasts you wish to change. If you are concerned primarily about sagging or drooping breasts and excess skin, you may be an ideal candidate for a breast lift. If you wish to increase the size of your breasts, breast augmentation is likely a better fit. It may be the case that these are all areas of concern for you, in which case you may choose to combine both procedures.


It is important to consider your motivations before any plastic surgery procedure. Be sure that you choose to have a breast lift or breast augmentation to improve your self-image and self-confidence, not because you are being pressured into surgery by someone you know.

Measuring Value Against Cost

The surgeons at SpaMedica will be able to give you a good estimate of what your breast lift or breast augmentation surgery would cost. If one procedure is significantly costlier than the other, and if finances are an issue, be sure to choose the procedure that you believe would most benefit you and your sense of confidence and wellbeing.


As with all surgeries, some risks come with both a breast lift and breast augmentation. If not properly cared for, incisions are at risk of infection, and scars may become more visible if you do not care for them well following your surgery, which includes avoiding exposure to the sun. Some swelling and soreness will occur after your surgery, which is normal. In addition, possible complications following a breast augmentation include the risk of your breast implants shifting if you do not allow yourself time to rest and recover in the weeks following your surgery. Your surgeon will apply a compression bandage and advise when it is safe to remove it. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions for care during your recovery and contact the clinic if you have any questions or concerns.

Discover Your Options With SpaMedica

At SpaMedica, Dr. Bell and Dr. Mullholland are two of Canada’s most sought-after plastic surgeons, with extensive experience in breast lift and breast augmentation surgery. Your surgeon will work closely with you to discuss your areas of concern and desired outcomes, to ensure you receive the best, most personalized experience possible.

Dr. Thomas Bell | SpaMedica

by Dr. Thomas Bell

Dr. Tom Bell, with over 25 years of practice experience dedicated to cosmetic plastic surgery, pioneered Avenue Road and Yorkville as Toronto’s Beverly Hills of plastic surgery with his first surgical center in Yorkville’s Avenue road corridor back in 1986. Named as Canada’s best plastic surgeon by W magazine and one of the world’s best, Dr. Bell returns home to join the SpaMedica Plastic Surgery team as the reigning King of Plastic Surgery.
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