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 

Breast reduction and the nipple areola complex

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The position and size of the areola are important considerations when evaluating a patient for a breast reduction. Typically it’s necessary to raise the nipple to a more youthful position. Often the areola is made smaller to achieve optimal proportions with the newly tight and perky breast.

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

Breast Reduction for Symptomatic Macromastia

Breast reduction surgery patients are among the happiest  because they both look and feel better following surgery. When women have large, burdensome breasts, they frequently suffer from a condition called symptomatic macromastia which may include the following symptoms:

  1. Pain in the neck, shoulders, breasts, and upper or lower back
  2. Bra strap indentations
  3. Rashes underneath the breasts (intertrigo)
  4. Little finger numbness
  5. Difficultly exercising, fitting into clothing or examining the breasts

Breast reduction surgery is designed to make the breasts smaller and lighter to alleviate the problems of symptomatic macromastia. However, the plastic surgeon performing the breast reduction is the most important determinant of the quality of the result. There are many different techniques for breast reduction, and each surgeon has their own preferences based on experience and patient needs. Often, breast reduction is combined with a breast lift on the other side.

Techniques

There are basically 2 types of techniques used commonly throughout the world:

  1. Wise Pattern (also known as the “Inverted T” or Anchor Scar) describe a technique with a scar around the areola with a vertical scar extending downwards to a horizontal scar in the breast fold.
  2. Vertical (also known as the Circumvertical or “Lollipop” Scar) describe a technique with a scar around the areola with a vertical scar extending downwards to meet the breast fold.

The choice depends on the extent of ptosis (sagging) and the surgeon’s experience. Liposuction is commonly used with the Vertical techniques and less frequently with the Wise pattern except to remove unwanted fatty tissue from the armpit regions.

Medicare & Health funds

Breast reduction surgery is considered to be medically necessary if a patient suffers from symptomatic macromastia. The typical criteria for Medicare Item no. coverage of a breast reduction include: bothersome symptoms detrimental to quality of life, failure of medical therapy prescribed by another doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor, and removal of a minimum estimated weight of breast tissue.

Most health funds  will cover this procedure for patients with these symptoms if they have attempted conservative medical treatment without success. Most commonly, this conservative medical treatment is provided by a GP, physiotherapist or chiropractor. Typically, there is a minimum weight of breast tissue that must be removed from each breast to qualify as a medically necessary breast reduction for health fund coverage. The best way to determine if your procedure is medically indicated is in a consultation with me at the clinic.

Recovery

One of the best things about recovering from breast reduction surgery is how quickly patients experience relief from their symptoms. The morning after surgery many patients already feel symptomatic relief, even though their recovery has just begun. Many comment that they even breathe easier when they no longer have so much weight on their chests.

Recovery from a breast reduction tends to be quick because it does not involve the underlying muscles, bones or internal organs. Most women will need a few days to recover before returning to work, up to 2 weeks for the incisions to heal before resuming exercise and 12-18 months for the scars to fade to a subtle colour.

To learn more about your breast reduction options and whether or not you are a candidate, email us at info@drtim.com.au or call our clinic at 13000DRTIM .

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One of the amazing things about recovering from breast reduction surgery is how quickly patients experience relief from their symptoms. The morning after surgery many patients already feel symptomatic relief, even though their recovery has just begun. Many comment that they even breathe easier when they no longer have so much weight on their chests.

Recovery from a breast reduction tends to be quick because it does not involve the underlying muscles, bones or internal organs. Most women will need:

  1. A few days to recover before returning to work
  2. A month for the incisions to heal before resuming exercise
  3. A year to 18 months for the scars to fade to a subtle colour

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

Breast Augmentation vs. Breast Lift – Know it all!

Like many women, you may find yourself choosing between these two procedures or choosing both. Each has its own unique goals, and the procedures are often combined to achieve an even more attractive curvature.

Breast Augmentation Goals
The goal of breast augmentation surgery is to make your breasts bigger and/or fuller (more projected). Women differ so vastly in shape, size, and frame that a number of options have been developed that offer something for everyone. You can choose from:

  1. Silicone gel or saline implants
  2. Textured or smooth surfaced implants
  3. Implant placement behind the breast tissue or behind the pectoralis muscle
  4. Round or tear-drop (anatomical) implants
  5. Various sizes of implants
  6. Different sites for the incision (breast fold, armpit or nipple areola complex)

Breast Lift Goals
Breast lift surgery is designed to elevate sagging breasts and restore their youthful, perky stature. Gravity, pregnancy and weight gain have a way of stretching even smaller breasts over time. Weight loss may leave breasts less firm and a bit saggy. Breast lift surgery involves elevating the nipples and lightening the breast skin to restore breasts to an attractive shape.

Breast Lift with Breast Augmentation Goals
The lift removes the excess skin and reduces sagging (pushes things “up and in”). The implant fills the remaining breast skin, adding contour and fullness where minimal breast tissue is insufficient (pushes things “out and down”). As you can see, the forces are opposing, and for that reason, there is a 20 % revision rate for this procedure.

What Makes the Difference?
What makes the biggest difference in outcomes is that the most successful plastic surgeons use the following techniques and protocols:

  1. Minimal blood loss, bruising and swelling by using electrocautery for dissection of the pocket, as well as, gentle manipulation of the tissues
  2. Smaller incisions
  3. No sutures for removal
  4. Specialised instruments for accurate placement of an implant
  5. Adequate pain relief postoperatively
  6. No drains or wraps to manage
  7. Avoidance of blood thinning agents perioperatively (cease multi-vitamins, aspirin, NSAIDs etc.)

 

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

www.cosmeticculture.com.au
www.drtim.com.au

Breast Augmentation Part 2 of 4: The Procedure

The things you need to know to make better choices regarding Breast Augmentation are the following:

 

1)  Match your desires with reality

The surgeon can only work with the issues you bring him. If you want the best result, you have to balance what you want with what your breast tissue will allow you to have and what it can support over time. Also, no woman has two breasts that are the same, and no surgeon can create two breasts exactly the same. Cup size is extremely variable and inconsistent from one brand of bra to another. Women tend to buy a bra that they can fill (or that pushes their breast tissue where they want it to go to create a specific appearance), not necessarily a bra that fits.

Last of all, the bigger the breast you request (i.e. the bigger the breast augmentation), the worse it will look over time. You can’t pick out a breast from a book or magazine and expect the same result unless the woman in the picture looked exactly like you before surgery.

 

2)  Know about the implants

Breast implants are not perfect, don’t last forever, and require some maintenance. If you can’t accept these facts, don’t have a breast augmentation. If you do, then you need to think about:

a) Implant pocket location

Implants can be placed in front of, or behind the muscle. There are less capsular contracture rates when the implant is placed behind the muscle and you can obtain better or more accurate mammograms too. Also, in thin women, behind the muscle is preferable because adequate tissue coverage is most important. Think when you lie in bed, if you are covered by a bed sheet only, one can see the contours of your body a lot better than if you were to be covered by a doona cover, where they are less distinct. Having said that, an implant placed in front of the muscle, will always more predictably control breast shape. How do you decide whether to go in front or behind the muscle? If you pinch the breast tissue in the upper pole and it’s < 2 cm, your best option would be to go beneath the muscle, otherwise, you run risks of seeing the edges of the implant.

One aspect that often gets overlooked is the way the pocket is created. Blunt dissection techniques are fast and efficient but create more tissue trauma, tear tissues, create more bleeding, and result in longer recovery times. Electrocautery dissection techniques use an electric current to seal blood vessels and are thus, less traumatic and have shorter recovery times.

b) Implant Shape

Shapes of implants can either be round or teardrop (anatomical). There is a trend today of women wanting more upper pole fullness and therefore opting for round implants. Given that the breast is constantly evolving and that over time there is a loss of upper pole fullness as the breast tissue “melts away”, breast augmentation with round implants may be a good option for maintaining upper pole fullness in the long term. The other added advantage is that if it rotates, it doesn’t affect the shape of the breast. In contrast, a teardrop implant which is fuller at the bottom and tapers at the top will give an odd shape to the breast if it does rotate. However, breast augmentation with teardrop implants may be better in women who have oddly shaped chests (either long or wide for example) because you can tailor the dimensions of the implant more specifically to fit the breast “foot print” on the chest. Tear drop implants may also be beneficial in women with mild sagging breasts who do not want scars on their breast from elevating the nipple. Tear drop implants have a “bucket-handle” effect on the nipple, elevating them to a higher position on the breast.

c) Implant surface (or shell)

The surface of the implant is made of a silicone rubber and can be textured or smooth. Textured implants have a lower risk of capsular contracture than smooth implants.

d) Implant “stuffing”

The stuffing or filler of the implant can be silicone or saline. Saline is salt-water and is harmless if the implant ruptures. Its biggest disadvantage is rippling and that it takes up the ambient temperature, meaning if you went to the beach for a swim, when you got out, your implants would feel cold. Silicone gel filler, on the other hand, is more natural, more predictable and it is safe. There are grades of silicone gel that range from “jelly” consistency to that of “gummy bears”.

e) Implant size

Remember, the larger the implant, the more tradeoffs and risks you’ll encounter, especially long term.

f) Incision location

The scar can be placed in three areas. The breast fold incision offers the best degree of control for the wide range of breast types and is the commonest type used by far. The periareolar incision (around the nipple-areola) usually heals well because it’s located in the thinner skin but is limited and can’t be used if the areola is not large enough for access. The biggest problem is the increased exposure of the implant to bacteria if any of the breast ducts were to be cut. The armpit (axillary) incision places no scar on the breast but takes longer to perform and harder to control the position of the breast fold.

 

3)  Get well acquainted with the tradeoffs, problems, and risks

Tradeoffs always depend on the details of each specific case, the characteristics of your tissues, and the experience of your surgeon with different options. Every breast augmentation operation carries inherent risks and medical complications are not totally preventable by you or your surgeon. Remember, don’t have a breast augmentation unless you thoroughly understand and accept the potential risks and tradeoffs of the procedure.

 

4)  Know about the recovery

The more tissue trauma caused by your surgery, the longer and more difficult your recovery. That is why it takes longer to recover from a pocket created behind the muscle. Excessively large implants can produce excessive stretch marks that cause more discomfort and temporary or permanent sensory loss. Most women return back to normal duties within four weeks and athletic activities in six weeks.

Question:  Do you think that the benefits far outweigh the trade-offs for breast augmentation? You can leave a comment below.

Correction of inverted nipples: the facts that you need to know!

As many as 3% of Australian women have at least 1 inverted nipple but the subject of nipple inversion is seldom discussed amongst family, friends or the media. Clearly, nipples are an integral part of the breast, playing a role in appearance, in sexuality, and in motherhood. Therefore, many women who have inverted nipples, feel that it affects their self-esteem and body image.

Most cases of inverted nipples are just born that way (congenital). However, some nipples become inverted after breastfeeding when scar tissue builds in the milk ducts. Nipples that become inverted after birth are usually caused by one of three things: not enough skin at the base of the nipple, constricted milk ducts, or scarring of the milk ducts due to breastfeeding. There are 2 types of inverted nipples: shy and densely inverted.

  1. Shy inverted nipples– can be drawn out with physical stimulation, either sexually or for breastfeeding. Shy inverted nipples may only cause cosmetic and psychological problems.
  2. Densely inverted nipples– this is where the nipples never come out, even when aroused or in very cold water. Densely inverted nipples also have functional repercussions, such as the inability to breastfeed, infection or irritation of the nipple when natural secretions become trapped.While a procedure to correct inverted nipples can have a great impact on the patient’s psyche and correct irritation problems, the ability to breastfeed cannot be guaranteed, as some or all of the ducts may need to be divided in order to free the nipple so that it is drawn out completely. The particular technique I use to correct inverted nipples was taught to me by my colleague and friend Dr. Grant Stevens, a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles, who is a pioneer in new techniques for procedures in breast surgery. The technique is safe, effective, has a short downtime, and the results are long-lasting. Before the procedure begins, the nipple and areola are numbed with an ice cube or pack, and a local anaesthetic given using a tiny needle the size of a hair. This means the patient experiences little or no pain, despite the sensitivity of the area.

The surgery itself is broken into 3 stages:

Stage 1: an incision measuring 4 to 5 mm is made in the lower portion of the nipple. The fibres or ducts are then released that are pulling the nipple down. The nipple is drawn out with much care in order to preserve the ability to breastfeed.

Stage 2: involves a series of stitches around the nipple.  If the nipple is imagined like a clock, the stitches run from 12 to 6 o’clock, then again from 3 to 9 o’clock.  By bunching up the tissue around the nipple, these stitches create a new pedestal for the nipple to rest on. A dissolving “purse-string” stitch is made around the base of the nipple, weaving in and out of the skin, which tightens the base of the nipple.

Stage 3: a small plastic “stent” – like a tiny medicine cup – is placed over the newly extracted nipple. This stent actually holds the nipple in place and ensures that the nipple heals in an outward position. Not only does it help with the nipples’ projection, but it also protects the nipple in the healing stages. This stent is kept on for 1 to 3 days. The patient then returns for a follow-up visit to remove the stent and the process is complete.

Post-operatively, there is little care needed. While the stent is on, patients cannot get the area wet and sexual contact is discouraged for the first week after surgery. Occasionally, the patient may need an ointment to aid the healing, although this is rare. The wound heals very quickly – to the point where the scar is usually invisible by the time the patient returns to have the stent removed (the stitches dissolve within 10 to 14 days). Possible complications include the retraction of the nipple or a local infection.

Although the correction of inverted nipples is a procedure that can greatly assist both the self-esteem of the sufferer and the function of the breast, more and more women are coming to my practice seeking nipple surgery for repair, correction, and enhancement of other conditions too:

  1. Enlarged nipples can be corrected with simple outpatient surgery reducing the length or diameter of one or both nipples.
  2. Reducing enlarged areolas is a quick fix as the areola can impact the appearance of the breasts more than any other feature.
  3. “Puffy” areolas put a cone-like cap on the breasts that some people find unattractive. A simple surgery can flatten the areola and beautify the breasts.

So despite the fact that nipples are usually hidden, women still want them to look attractive. Many women suffer with nipple and areola abnormalities such as inverted nipples, enlarged nipples, and puffy, enlarged or discoloured areolas.  Many of these conditions can impact breast function, but they all impact the way women feel about their bodies. The nipple can be repaired during outpatient surgery or during breast enhancement surgery.

Question:  Do women feel inverted nipples is such a big issue to warrant surgery?  You can leave a comment below.