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What Are the Different Types of Cosmetic Surgery for Breasts?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are four main types of cosmetic surgery for breasts, each of which can help to resolve several different aesthetic or health issues. A breast augmentation is done by inserting implants into the breast area to increase their size, which can correct uneven breasts or simply for aesthetic purposes. Breast reductions are typically done to decrease the size of one or both breasts, due to either unevenness or a woman being uncomfortable with her natural size, whether mentally or physically. A mastopexy, more commonly known as a breast lift, can help to correct sagging breasts, while breast reconstruction is performed to rebuild a woman’s chest area following a mastectomy.

Augmentations are one of the most well-known and often performed types of cosmetic surgery for breasts. Technically known as an augmentation mammoplasty, this surgery is done by inserting a bag-like product either behind or in front of the muscle in the breast. The bag is then injected with a filler, typically silicone or saline, until the breast is the desired size and shape.

Breast augmentation is often done for aesthetic purposes, as some women are not comfortable with the natural size or shape of their breasts. It can also be used to correct breasts that are naturally significantly unequal in size. These types of cosmetic surgery for breasts typically only include an implant in the smaller breast, which is then filled until both breasts are an equal size. In some cases, depending on the shape of the breasts, an implant may be used in both sides to create symmetry.

Reduction mammoplasties are done to reduce the size of one or both breasts. In this procedure, fat or tissue is suctioned or cut out of the breasts, and the skin over the breast is tightened over the remaining tissue. In order to tighten the skin completely, some of the excess may need to be removed depending on how much the breasts were reduced.

Cosmetic surgery for breasts that are meant to reduce the size of a woman’s chest are done for many reasons, the most common being reducing significantly large breasts. Many women with naturally larger chests experience extreme discomfort in their back due to the extra weight, and undergo this type of cosmetic surgery for breasts to make their daily life easier. Some women may elect to have this surgery because they are uncomfortable or shy about the size of their chests. This procedure may also be performed to correct unevenness in the breasts in women who have a noticeable size difference between each side. In most cases, the larger of the two breasts is reduced to match the smaller side.

A mastopexy is used to lift up the breasts, and is a common procedure in women who have had children or are genetically predisposed to sagging. In this type of cosmetic surgery for breasts, surgeons take the skin from the top of the breasts and lift it up before reattaching it. Depending on how high the breasts are raised, surgery may be performed to relocate the areola and nipples to a natural looking place. In some cases, a breast lift is performed in conjunction with an augmentation.

Women who have undergone a mastectomy, defined as the removal of one or both breasts, may choose to have implants inserted for reconstruction purposes. This type of cosmetic surgery, known as breast reconstruction, is often more complicated than an augmentation. Following a mastectomy, there is often not enough tissue to cover a new implant, requiring that donor fat or skin be taken from elsewhere on the woman’s body, typically her abdomen. To replace the nipple and areola, grafting is often used, although this is simply for looks rather than function. In some cases, where only one breast is removed, reconstruction is performed on one side and an augmentation or lift is performed on the other to make both breasts symmetrical.

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