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What is the difference between a breast reduction and lift?

Breast Reduction / Breast Lift / Medicare / Surgical Tips

29 Apr 2021

What is the difference between a breast reduction and lift?

Do I need a breast reduction, a breast lift, or both? If you find yourself asking any of these questions, this is the blog for you!


Breast Reduction vs. Breast Lift

Is a breast lift included in a breast reduction?

Did you know: Every breast reduction I perform involves a lift, and every breast lift involves a small reduction (mostly just the excess skin)!

This is a rule of thumb that applies to all of my breast reduction and breast lift patients.


Generally speaking, most breast reduction patients come to see with their main concern being the volume and weight of their breasts. These patients often come to me suffering from severe neck, back and shoulder pain as well as rashes and skin irritation occurring underneath the breast fold. While a breast reduction focuses primarily on changing the size of the breast, it also involves repositioning the breasts into a higher, more youthful position on the chest wall with a breast uplift.

Breast reduction patients are commonly in bra cup sizes of DD to G, and can expect to end up a number of sizes smaller, proportional to their body type.


My breast lift candidates often come to me experiencing some degree of what we call breast ptosis, referring to saggy or droopy breasts with the nipple often falling towards the bottom third. Breast ptosis often occurs in patients who have lost a substantial amount of weight, have had several pregnancies or are simply feeling the effects of gravity.

A surgical breast lift focuses primarily on changing the shape of the breast and creating a more “perky” appearance. This requires the removal of the excess skin and a small amount of tissue, so there is a modest overall reduction in size.

Before surgery breast lift patients are commonly in smaller bra cup sizes than reduction patients, sometimes as small as a lax B or C cup, so the change in bra size is less dramatic.


Ultimately the type of procedure you need will depend on the volume of breast tissue that needs to be removed, vs the amount of empty excess skin that needs to be reshaped.


Are breast reduction and breast lift scars the same?

From a technical standpoint, a breast reduction and breast lift follow the same incision pattern. My preferred technique for breast reductions and lifts is the modern “anchor” technique. This involves an incision around the areola, a short vertical “lollipop” incision from the areola to the crease of the breast and an incision along the base of the breast hidden underneath the breast fold. This allows for volume reduction, breast reshaping, nipple/areola reduction and a breast lift all in the one procedure. With diligent aftercare, my patients find that their scarring is almost undetectable after 12-24 months.

You can watch an animated video of a breast reduction HERE, and a breast lift HERE.


“Anchor” Incision Technique for Breast Reductions and Lifts

Will Medicare help fund a breast reduction or lift?

Yes! If you meet the necessary Medicare criteria you will receive a small rebate from Medicare after your surgery, but more importantly your health fund will kick in and cover the cost of your hospital stay and theatre fees.

The relevant Medicare items numbers to check with your health fund are 45523 (breast reduction) and 45558 (breast lift). Not all policies will cover these items, so you may consider a change to your cover or even fund.

More information about how to choose the right health fund for you can be found HERE.


What will my breasts look like after surgery?

A great way to get an idea about your potential surgical outcome is to look through the before and after gallery available on our website HERE. The trick is to find a “before” photo that looks similar to you – that way you can get a great idea of what your “after” outcome could be!


How do I know which procedure I will need, and how do I begin my journey?

A great way to start exploring your options is to book a 3D Vectra Surgery Simulation appointment with my Practice Manager. This tool is able to show you a 3D image of what your new breasts could look like on your body! While the 3D imaging isn’t perfect for all breast reductions, this is still a great opportunity to discuss the costs, potential rebates, choice of hospital, recovery, etc. You can book online HERE. After meeting with my Practice Manager your consultation with me can be fast-tracked, where we will discuss your goals and prepare the best surgical plan for you.


Other blogs you may be interested in:


Dr Nicholas Moncrieff

Blog Author:

Dr Nicholas Moncrieff, Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon


About Dr Moncrieff

Dr Moncrieff focuses exclusively on breast reductions, breast lifts, breast augmentation, tummy tucks and body lifts.

He is one of only a handful of Plastic Surgeons across Australia with this sole breast and body focus.

Dr Moncrieff has performed thousands of surgical procedures over more than two decades in medicine. Over 20,000 of these procedures have been in Newcastle.

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