Breast Augmentation: What Happens During a Consultation?

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There are many reasons why women seek breast augmentation. Some women feel that increasing their breast size will give them greater self-confidence. Others would like to feel more proportional between their top and bottom so they fit better into their clothing. Mothers frequently seek breast augmentation to restore what was lost with breastfeeding and ageing. Supporting loose skin and giving upper breast fullness are also common reasons for choosing breast enlargement.

Good communication with patients in breast augmentation is key. There’s a need to review their medical histories and ask patients what their goals are for breast augmentation. In some cases, it is a modest increase in size to fit better in their clothing. Other times it’s a significant increase in volume to change their look. A patient may desire an improved breast shape or, possibly, better symmetry is their goal. Still others may want to restore their pre-pregnancy figure and may choose to combine their augmentation with a breast lift or other procedures.

On examining the patient, one needs to consider many features including breast volume, width, height, nipple position, areola size, ribcage curvature, skin tone, droopiness, asymmetry, and crease position. Breasts are highly variable, and I help the patient understand what their best options are based on their physical characteristics. We then come to a common agreement about what our goal will be. Remember, that “breast are sisters, not twins” so more often than not there is quite some variation between the two breasts so you can’t expect a perfect match following breast augmentation.

When the patient returns for their pre-operative visit, typically 1-3 weeks before surgery, I have them look through many digital photographs of breasts to show me their desired result. If there is a discrepancy between what we have discussed and what the patient is showing me with pictures, I’ll identify the difference and sort out what they really want, often using the 3D VECTRA which can simulate what the breasts may look like after augmentation. At the end of our meeting, I’m fairly confident that I understand what the patient desires. Likewise, the patient feels comfortable with our communication and our plan.

The photographs are then brought with me to the operating room. When the patient is asleep, I create the pockets for the implants on each of the breasts, and I occasionally use implant sizers to confirm the volume and shape of the optimal breast implants for the patient. Most patients are back to work and most of their usual routine in several days or up to a week. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for several weeks.

To learn more about breast augmentations, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Breast Augmentation: Where are the Incisions and Implants Located?

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Most plastic surgeons favour the infra-mammary incision location for most breast implants. The peri-areolar incision is made as a semicircle at the lower border of the pigmented areola. It does heal beautifully in most cases and uses the interface of the darker and lighter pigmented skin to camouflage the incision. For patients with small areolae, it may be preferable to use the infra-mammary incision, located underneath the breast. This incision also heals very well, and is especially useful for women with well defined creases under their breasts.

The axillary incision (in the armpit) is another option, but it’s better suited for saline implants than silicone gel. Because this access incision is a greater distance from the implant pocket, it’s less precise than the peri-areolar and infra-mammary approaches. Studies have confirmed that there is a higher implant revision rate using the axillary approach. Usually the axillary scars heal well, but they may still be visible when the patient wears sleeveless outfits. There is also a higher rate of breast implant infections with the peri-areolar and axillary approaches.

Patients frequently ask what effect the incision location has on maintaining nipple sensation after surgery. The answer is that the access incision usually has little effect on nipple sensation. Rather, it’s the size of the implant pocket that has the largest impact on nipple sensation. Large implants may require a pocket that stretches the nerves to the point that they do not function well, increasing the odds of impaired nipple sensation. Even so, the vast majority of my patients maintain normal nipple sensation.

Breast implants may be placed over or under the pectoralis major muscle. In the early days of breast augmentation, all implants were placed on top of the muscle. However, in recent decades, it has become more common to place implants underneath the pectoralis major muscle. The muscle covers the top half of the implant, providing additional thickness of coverage over the implant in the critical cleavage area. This makes it less likely that the implant edges or ripples will be visible when wearing a bra or swimsuit. Studies have also shown that the rate of capsular contracture is lower when the implants are placed under the muscle. Breast imaging to screen for breast cancer is more accurate when the implants are placed behind the muscle. For these reasons, I prefer to place implants underneath the muscle for most of my breast implant patients.

 

To learn more about breast augmentations, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Can Breast Implants Raise a Low Nipple Areola Complex?

A youthful, cosmetically ideal breast has a nipple areola complex diameter of about 38-42mm.  Some breasts have large areolas from the time that they develop during puberty, and some enlarge later in life with pregnancy and breastfeeding. A large areola tends to make a breast look ’matronly’ even if it is not sagging. Nipple-areola complex diameter can definitely be reduced or enlarged, and this can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or as part of any breast enhancement procedure such as a lift, augmentation or reduction.

An attractive, well-positioned, and proportionate nipple areola complex is an important goal for many women looking to achieve a beautiful breast appearance. This small area of a woman’s anatomy can have a big impact on her satisfaction with her breasts. Women who are unhappy with the appearance of their nipple areola complexes, can have them corrected either alone or in combination with any breast enhancement procedure.

Breast augmentation with breast implants will not necessarily raise the nipple areola complex position in sagging breasts and in fact in some cases may make the areola larger. There are techniques to allow the implant to fall into the lower pole of the breast to create the illusion of lifting with more of the breast volume sitting lower on the chest. This is where using a tear drop (anatomical) breast implant can help as it creates a” bucket-handle” effect on the nipple areola complex.

The submuscular (below the muscle) breast implants are” innocent bystanders” to whatever happens to the breasts, as they are really chest wall implants that simply push the breasts forward. The submuscular breast implants are supported by the overlying pectoralis major muscles. In contrast, subglandular (above the muscle) breast implants are more likely to fall with pregnancy or weight loss, as they are supported only by the overlying breast tissues.

A periareolar (around the areola) or circumvertical (lollipop type) breast lifts are reasonable choices to reduce the nipple areola complex size and raise its position on the breast. These techniques reliably elevate the breast while keeping scars to a minimum. These breast lifts are desirable because of the nipple position (usually at or below the breast fold) and because of breast sagging. Neither nipple areola complex position nor breast sagging would be corrected with breast implants alone. “Blowing up the balloon” with larger breast implants will only create excessively large, still very saggy breasts. Reshaping the breast and elevating the nipple areola complex and breast back up onto the chest will play an important role in helping one achieve a cosmetically pleasing result.

Most plastic surgeons have a clear policy defining the financial responsibility of the surgeon and the patient in case of complications involving breast lifts, both short and long term. The policy should be made clear to each patient before surgery. It may differ from surgeon to surgeon with the majority of surgeons not charging their fee for reoperating on the patient but the patient having to pay the facility and anaesthesia costs.

Many women feel uncomfortable with their breasts their whole life because they had ’droopy’ or enlarged nipples or areolas that looked abnormal. A small surgical procedure to enhance the nipple areola complex can be extremely important for a woman’s self-esteem and self-image.

Question: Does it matter to you whether the nipple areola complex is proportionate to the remaining breast? You can leave a comment below.

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The two main categories of breast implants are silicone gel or saline-filled implants. Silicone gel implants have been popular since the early 1960s, and they have gone through multiple generations of improvements since that time. Silicone gel implants have undergone rigorous studies which have shown they are safe and do not cause breast cancer nor connective tissue disorders.

The main advantage of silicone implants is that they feel more natural than saline implants. Gel implants are less prone to rippling than saline, which makes them particularly advantageous for thin patients. The current 5th generation of silicone implants are cohesive, meaning that the gel is viscous enough that even if the implant ruptures the gel tends to remain in the same place, a little like jelly. Previous generations, the silicone was more like thick maple syrup.

Saline (ie. saltwater) implants have a long record of safety too and are less expensive than silicone gel implants. They are generally placed when they are empty and filled once they are inside the breast pocket, so that the access incisions may be even smaller. When a saline implant leaks, most of the saline from the implant is rapidly and harmlessly absorbed by the body. The deflation is usually obvious, and the patient returns for removal and replacement of the saline implant. This may be done under local anaesthesia if the patient is an appropriate candidate. The primary disadvantage of saline implants is that they don’t look or feel as natural as the silicone gel implants. This is a particularly important issue for women who are thin or have decreased elasticity of their skin.

 To learn more about breast augmentation, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Breast Implants & Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)- No Cause For Alarm

Breast Implant & ALCL

Only recently described, breast implant–associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) usually presents as an effusion-associated fibrous capsule surrounding the implant and less frequently as a mass. Little is known about the natural history and long-term outcomes of such disease. It is estimated that between 5 and 10 million women have breast implants. Due to the rarity of a diagnosis of ALCL (3 in 100 million per year in the USA diagnosed with ALCL in the breast) a worldwide collaboration is required to provide robust data to investigate this possible link.

ALCL is a lymphoma and not cancer of the breast tissue. When breast implants are placed in the body, they are inserted behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. Over time, a fibrous scar called a capsule develops around the implant, separating it from the rest of the breast. In women with breast implants, the ALCL was generally found adjacent to the implant itself and contained within the fibrous capsule. ALCL is a lymphoma which is a type of cancer involving cells of the immune system. It is not cancer of the breast tissue.

The most recent clinical studies state that it is not possible to confirm with any certainty whether breast implants have any relation to an increased likelihood of developing ALCL, and particularly whether any one type of implant can create a higher or lower risk than another of developing the disease. It should be noted that ALCL is extremely rare and treatable. This is evidenced in particular by three recent papers:

  1. A Danish nationwide study – ‘Breast implants and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma: a Danish population-based cohort study’– concluded that in a nationwide cohort of 19,885 women who underwent breast implant surgery between 1973 and 2010, no cases of ALCL were identified
  2. A review of cases within another recent comprehensive article, ‘Breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma: long-term follow-up of 60 patients’ concluded that: “most patients with breast implant-associated ALCL who had disease confined within the fibrous capsule achieved complete remission. Proper management for these patients may be limited to capsulectomy and implant removal. Patients who present with a mass have a more aggressive clinical course that may be fatal, justifying cytotoxic chemotherapy in addition to removal of implants.”
  3. In a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Roberto N. Miranda, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Hematopathology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues assessed disease characteristics, treatment, and outcomes in 60 cases. They found that outcomes are better in women with effusion confined by the fibrous capsule, whereas disease presenting as a mass has a more aggressive clinical course.Patients should be advised that ALCL is a very rare condition and until any further evidence is presented there is no need to remove breast implants as a matter of course.

 

These data suggest that there are two patient subsets. Most patients who present with an effusion around the implant, without a tumour mass, achieve complete remission and excellent disease-free survival. A smaller subset of patients presents with a tumour mass associated with the fibrous capsule and are more likely to have clinically aggressive disease. We suggest that patients without a mass may benefit from a conservative therapeutic approach, perhaps removal of the implant with capsulectomy alone, whereas patients with a tumour mass may need removal of the implants and systemic therapy that still needs to be defined.

 

We continue to advise that any women with breast implants who experience any sudden unexplained changes, lumps or swelling should speak to their GP or their surgeon.

Breast Augmentation Part 1 of 4: The Patient

There are generally three groups of women who frequently consider Breast Augmentation:

  1. Nature “missed a beat” during breast development: This usually occurs during puberty where the breasts may not develop at all or only develop slightly, resulting in a “bowling pin” type of a look. Apart from making one feel inadequate because there is a disconnect between the narrower chest to the wider hips, it also makes it difficult buying clothes that fit. Some people revert to using fillers and enhancers, but these techniques never seem to compensate, are temporary measures, and they never feel like a natural part of you in the same way as breast augmentation. Breasts can also develop unevenly during puberty, causing both difficulty in buying and wearing clothes, as well as, making one feel abnormal or like a “freak”.
  2. Nature “took a toll” during pregnancy and breastfeeding: During these times, the breast enlarges and deflates repeatedly. This cycle stretches the breast skin especially in the lower pole, resulting in stretch marks. After breastfeeding, the breast tissue itself may “melt away” (especially in the upper pole), sometimes to a size less than before pregnancy. However, the skin never shrinks back to its original size, therefore, the breasts will appear saggy (think of the skin like an overstretched elastic band which frays at the edges). This is where a breast augmentation and/or a breast lift (mastopexy) can be of great benefit to restore the shape, size, and contour of the breasts to the pre-pregnancy state.
  3. Nature “didn’t match desires” of women who want to enhance the shape and appearance of their breasts: Some women want to be the best version of themselves. Others have underdeveloped breasts or have uneven breasts that makes buying clothes difficult. While other women want to “marry” or improve the balance between their chest with their hips. Breast augmentation to enhance the chest further or balance the hips can make an enormous difference to ones’ body shape and self-esteem.

Women who fall into any one of the above groups have every right to want to optimise any aspect of their breast appearance. If this involves breast augmentation, then she needs to also think about:

These factors will be individually discussed in subsequent blog posts. Remember that no choice is perfect and that every choice has trade-offs (you need to know them) as well as benefits. Therefore, choose carefully.

 

Question: What are your reasons for wanting to have Breast Augmentation? You can leave a comment below.