Do Breast Lifts Decrease Breast Size?

Breast lifts are a bit misunderstood. The goal of the procedure is to “lift” the breasts, bringing them back up to a higher position on the chest. But most patients understand that lifts also involve trimming excess skin. Because of this, there is a belief that breast lifts also decrease breast size.

Truth or wives’ tale? Since breast lifts are a popular procedure for Dr. Fedele’s patients, we found an article on a study that sought to answer that very question.

The study was conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons on 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

Dr. Katie Elizabeth Weichman and colleagues of New York University conducted the study. They published their results in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in July 2014. The sample size is far from dramatic, but the results are very interesting.

In the study, the researchers did 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.

The women reported an average decrease of approximately one cup size, for instance going from a D to a C. It was important that all of the women stayed with the same brand of bra over the period, so there were no variations based upon manufacturer sizing differences.

The Decrease Of A Better Fit?

When looking at the results, the researchers wondered why, if the breasts were only lifted and not reduced, was there a change in cup size? 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.”

Still, there was a bit of a mystery. Closer examination pointed to the changing shape of the breasts before and after a breast 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.

So, it’s not a matter of losing size; it’s a matter of raising the breast mass to a higher profile, 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. Of course, this is the only barometer that matters anyway, patient satisfaction.

Do you feel as if your breasts have sagged more than you’d like? Call Dr. Fedele at 216-464-1616 and schedule a consultation for a breast lift.

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