If you’re unhappy with the size, shape or appearance of your breasts, you might be considering breast enhancement surgery. Or maybe you’re tired of the nagging back pain and postural issues caused by overly large breasts. You’ve probably heard the lingo: implants and lifts and reductions. You may have also heard conflicting information. Before deciding on a life- and figure-changing procedure, it is important to learn about the various kinds of breast enhancement available. Here is a crash course to get you up to speed on the different procedures, and who they can benefit the most.

Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is the most common cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States and includes many different approaches to altering breast size and shape. Breast implants are the best known augmentation approach, but newer technologies are emerging that offer women safe alternatives to implants. Some of these techniques include fat augmentation, where fat from other areas of the body is injected into the breast tissue, and the BRAVA, a special bra that uses suction technology to enhance existing breast tissue.

Breast Implants

To enlarge the breasts, surgeons use implants. There are two main types of FDA-approved implants: saline implants and silicone implants (other types are currently under review, such as form stable implants). Both are made from a solid silicone, rubber shell; the shell is filled with either saline (sterile salt water) or elastic silicone gel. Women who opt for breast implants have usually been dissatisfied with the size of their breasts for some time and are ready to make an investment in their appearance.

Breast Lift

A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy, literally lifts or changes the shape of the breasts. There are full breast lifts or modified breast lifts, depending on the look you want. Often part of a “Mommy Makeover,” breast lifts are ideal for women who have recently stopped nursing babies and are looking to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies. Women who have lost a significant amount of weight and don’t like the saggy look of their breasts can also opt for a breast lift, which moves the breasts higher up on the chest and restores a more youthful look.

Breast Reduction

Both women and men are candidates for breast reduction, also called reduction mammoplasty. Men with gynecomastia (larger mammary glands in men) or non-breast feeding women who have too much breast tissue — causing overly large breasts and a feeling of being disproportional — often opt for this surgery. For both women and men, breast reduction can help ease back pain and breathing problems. For women, breast lifts are sometimes performed along with breast reductions.

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is available for women who have had a mastectomy or injury that involves the breasts. There are various techniques for breast reconstruction, including using the woman’s own tissue to recreate the breasts, or using tissue expansion implants. Depending on what procedure you choose, breast reconstruction can either be done at the same time as a mastectomy or as a separate surgery.