Do Breast Lifts Downsize the Breasts, too?

If you follow this industry, you’ve heard the rumors — a breast lift decreases breast size. Because a breast lift usually removes some excess stretched skin, it’s easy to assume that the procedure could make the breasts actually a little smaller, in addition to moving their position higher on the chest. Since breast lifts are popular procedures for our Smith Plastic Surgery patients who don’t necessarily want to include augmentation, we found a study that should shed some light on this perception.

A recent study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons examined the relationship between breast lifts and bra cup sizes. The report found that following a breast lift women reported they were wearing a smaller bra, with an average decrease of one bra cup size. But this is where the study got interesting. It found that the difference reflects the changing profile of the breast rather than a true reduction in breast size.

The study

The study had a limited sample size. It was conducted at New York University by Dr. Katie Elizabeth Weichman and her colleagues. The results were first reported in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in July 2014. Although there weren’t huge numbers of participants, the results were certainly telling.

Researchers performed a follow-up survey of 20 women who underwent a breast lift, clinically termed mastopexy, at an average age of 47. All of the patients only had a breast lift, without augmentation or reduction. The study queried these women five years after their surgeries, asking about their bra cup size before versus after breast lift surgery. Weight changes and other relevant factors were taken into consideration.

At first glance, when considering the subject answers, it seems breast lifts do actually make the breast smaller. Why? Because the women reported an average decrease of approximately one cup size, for instance going from a D to a C. All of the women were wearing the same brand of bra, so there were no variations based upon manufacturer sizing differences.

Not a decrease, but a truer fit?

These results perplexed the researchers because the subjects didn’t have breast reduction, only lifts. So why did cup size change? The authors of the study chalked this up to the correct bra fit and patient comfort. It said, “It is well known that most women do not wear the correct bra size.”

The authors then attributed the bra size issues to the difference in the shape of the breasts before and after a lift. Women opting for a breast lift have ptosis (sagging) of the breasts from pregnancy, breastfeeding, and normal aging. The study says, “It is our contention that the ptotic breast fills out a larger (than actual) brassiere cup size.” This is probably due to more of the breast mass sitting lower on the chest. A larger cup-size bra may be more comfortable in this situation. When the breasts are raised, more mass sits higher, so women opt to have a smaller cup size for reasons of comfort.

Basically, the research points to the breasts having a different, higher profile that demands a smaller cup size. This is because the breast mass is now in a higher position, which is exactly the reason a woman opts for a breast lift. As a final note, all of the 20 women in the study said they were satisfied with the results of their breast lift surgery.

If you’re unhappy with sagging that is affecting your breasts, call us at Smith Plastic Surgery, 843-705-8940.



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