ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- New statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that breast lift procedures are growing at twice the rate of breast implant surgeries.
Since 2000, breast lifts have grown by 70 percent, outpacing implants two-one. Breast implants are still by far the most performed cosmetic surgery in women, but lifts are steadily gaining. In 2013, more than 90,000 breast lift procedures were performed by ASPS member surgeons.
"Many women are looking for a youthful breast by using the tissue they already have," said ASPS President Robert X. Murphy Jr., MD.
According to the new statistics, women between the ages of 30 and 54 made up nearly 70 percent of the breast lift procedures performed in 2013.
"The breast lift procedure is way up in my practice," said Anne Taylor, MD, an ASPS-member plastic surgeon in Columbus. "More women are coming to us who've had children, whose breast volume has decreased and who are experiencing considerable sagging," she said. "For many of them, we are able to get rid of excess skin and lift the breasts back up where they're supposed to be."
Kim Beckman of Casstown, Ohio, is one of the women who went to Taylor.
"Childbirth, breastfeeding and aging takes a toll on the body," she said. "I finally decided one morning that I was going to lose weight and get healthy."
Beckman started eating right and exercising, but, even though she lost more than 75 pounds, she still wasn't completely satisfied.
"From the waist down, I was happy with what I saw, but, from the waist up, I knew that there was still something I needed to do in the chest area," she said.
Like many women, Beckman had lost volume in her breasts over the years and, after losing weight, had considerable sagging.
"In those situations, there's really no other way to get the breast lifted back up without the breast lift surgery," said Taylor.
"The ideal candidate for a breast lift is a woman who has a good amount of breast tissue left, who doesn't necessarily want to have implants," said Murphy. "Many women aren't sure if they are a candidate for this type of surgery, but a simple pencil test can tell them if they are."
To perform the pencil test, a woman simply places a pencil under her breast.
"If the breast tissue holds the pencil in place against the chest, that implies that there's a hanging nature to the breast that can be fixed with a lift." said Murphy.
Though she eventually opted for implants, too, the idea of starting with a surgery that only used her natural tissue appealed to Kim Beckman.
"I'm a nurse myself," said Beckman, "so I put a lot of consideration into anything medical, especially when it comes to surgical intervention."
"Now that I've had the procedure, I feel confident," she said. "I'm wearing clothes that I never really thought that I would wear. I've worn a bikini on the beach, and I'm comfortable. I didn't feel the need to cover up in a towel or throw on a T-shirt to walk down the beach with my husband. I feel good."
According to the latest statistics from ASPS, fewer than 53,000 breast lifts were performed in 2000. Last year there were 90,006, an increase of 70 percent since 2000, marking the first time that number has eclipsed 90,000.
In 2013, there were 290,224 breast augmentation surgeries performed by ASPS member surgeons. That represents a growth of 37 percent since 2000, just under half the rate of breast lifts.