The goal of a breast lift is to remove sagging skin and to “lift” the breasts back up to a higher position on the chest, where they were before the sagging occurred. But patients sometimes wonder if a breast lift, because it removes excess skin, actually makes the breasts slightly smaller while raising them.
Is this true? Since we’ve heard that question from our Austin Cosmetic Surgery patients, we thought we’d poke around and find some research.
It turns out the American Society of Plastic Surgeons had that very question on its mind and they did a study on breast lifts and bra cup sizes before and after to find the answer.
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 was conducted at New York University by Dr. Katie Elizabeth Weichman and her colleagues. Its results were published 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 surely interesting.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.
Do you rue the settling and sagging that has affected your breasts? Maybe a breast lift with the team at Austin Cosmetic Surgery would be a good procedure to change things. Call us at our Austin office, or our Scottsdale office (480) 947-7700 to schedule a consultation.