Samuel Lin MD Explains the Difference Between Implants, Lifts & Their Respective Benefits

Aesthetic breast surgery, commonly known as a boob job, is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation was the leading cosmetic procedure based on data collected in 2017. While the appeal of the procedure is understandable, it is important for anyone considering it to approach it with all the facts in hand.

To offer some insights into breast augmentation procedures, we recently caught up with Samuel Lin MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon. Samuel Lin MD is an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and a plastic surgeon at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC. He is also the program director at BIDMC for the Harvard Plastic Surgery Residency Training Program.

Breast Lift

A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure that reshapes and lifts breasts that have lost their shape and are drooping, says Samuel Lin MD. Women who come in for a breast lift are often seeking a way to firm up and lift their breasts to create a more youthful disposition. In terms of complexity, breast lifts are different than breast implants.
Such complexity may make sense because in most cases, the surgeon must surgically reconstruct the breast to meet an individual’s expectations. Possible steps may include removing excess skin, moving the nipple and areola, or recreating the nipple and areola altogether. The most important benefit of a breast lift is its time of lasting. When a person gets a breast lift, the results can last a lifetime; however, gravity can also affect results over time depending on the patient. Also, if there isn’t significant sagging, small incisions around the areola often suffice, resulting in less scarring.

Breast Implant

Breast implants are the most popular type of breast augmentation in the market today, says Samuel Lin MD. Implants are popular because they are a more straight forward procedure, and they often offer a quick way to adjust the size of the breast (breast lift relies on available breast tissue). Breast implants comprise a silicone shell filled with either a silicone gel matrix or saline (saltwater) solution.
Gel implants are by far the most popular because of the viscosity of the gel. When it comes to breast implants, says Dr. Lin, there are many options in terms of shape, size, and texture. However, he cautions that certain textured breast implants are linked to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and so it is important discuss this with your doctor (smooth implants are safer).

In Summary

A breast augmentation is like any other surgery, with risks and tradeoffs involved, says Samuel Lin MD. Some of the risks include infection, bleeding, blood clots, excessive scarring, loss of nipple sensation, leaking or ruptured implants, chronic pain, fat necrosis, unmet expectations, among others. Samuel Lin MD recommends discussing the options above in detail with your doctor to provide a clear picture of each. He also points out that you should go in with an open mind, as the results you get may not always accurately meet your specific expectations.

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Samuel Lin, MD, FACS
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