Breast Lift and Augmentation: The facts you need to know!

The goals of breast lift with or without breast augmentation are to restore shape, volume, and nipple-areola position. However, simultaneous breast lift and augmentation present multiple problems, specifically because it becomes harder to control all of the variables affecting the outcome when combining the two procedures. No single method is best to treat all types of sagging (ptosis), and maintaining a good blood supply to the nipple-areola complex is of paramount importance, so a staged procedure may be necessary at times.

Why is combining a breast lift and breast augmentation the most difficult of all cosmetic breast surgery procedures? The surgery involves manoeuvres that can be counterproductive to each other since the skin is being removed and when closed back up again, pushes the breast in and upwards, whilst an implant stretches the skin in an out and in a downwards direction. These conflicting tensions can adversely affect the blood supply to the breast and skin which may affect wound healing, scar quality etc. Positioning of both the nipple and breast fold also becomes more challenging during simultaneous lift and augmentation. Secondly, no two breasts are the same, and each patient is seeking a different endpoint, sometimes with unrealistic expectations.

The first thing that I do when evaluating a patient for a breast lift is to ask them if they are happy with their present breast volume. You can simply do this by pinching the skin below the breast and pushing it up where it belongs. Most women are amazed at how little of breast volume they actually have. If that is the case, then volume enhancement, usually with an implant, is necessary along with a lift. If the volume is satisfactory, then a breast lift will suffice.

The second thing to do is grade the amount of breast sagging. This is done by using Regnault’s classification which looks at the position of the nipple as follows:

1)  Grade 1 (minor): nipple at breast fold
2)  Grade 2 (moderate): nipple is below the fold but above the lower breast contour
3)  Grade 3 (major): nipple is below the fold and below breast contour
4)  Pseudoptosis (“false sagging”): nipple lies above the fold, there is little breast volume, some of which lies below the fold

Other characteristics that one looks out for are:

1) Skin: elasticity and excess;
2)  Breast tissue:  firm and fibrous or soft and fatty; and
3)  Skin-breast tissue relationship: firm and adherent or loosely adherent and is the breast full or empty. Skin quality and the skin-breast tissue relationship are the key factors in determining the breast lift procedure and the quality and longevity of the final result.

As a general rule, if the skin elasticity is normal, the breast envelope is full, and the skin is adherent to the underlying breast tissue, then the scars would be limited, and vice versa. In other words, one progresses from limited scars such as periareolar scars (scars around the nipple-areola complex) to periareolar-vertical scars (scars that run down the front of the breast below the nipple-areola complex) to more extensive, full-length inverted-T or anchor scars.

For the patient with “pseudoptosis,” inserting a breast implant alone, usually tear-dropped shaped, is typically all that is needed. For Grade I sagging, an implant alone or a lift plus an implant may be required.

Depending on a number of factors, the lift may be performed via a crescent, periareolar, or vertical approach. A vertical approach is preferred if there is significant looseness below the nipple. However, the periareolar incision is generally used in just a few specific situations. Since this skin-only incision is unable to lift much weight, it is an option in women with small breasts who need only a small amount of nipple repositioning, usually < 2 cm.

In addition, it is considered advantageous in women with pointed, conical or tubular breasts, because it causes areolar flattening and eliminates the tubular nature. The main issue I have with performing a periareolar breast lift is its tendency to cause areolar flattening and leave the areola more prone to stretching.

In Grade 2 sagging, especially where the breasts are large and heavy, a vertical breast lift is often required because it will effectively lift the breast tissue to achieve increased projection. However, a periareolar incision may still be considered for women with light breasts. When performing a vertical breast lift, the procedure may be converted into a short inverted-T lift if a difficulty is encountered controlling the nipple-to-breast fold distance.

With Grade 3 sagging, the lift technique depends on the nipple-to-breast fold distance. If it is > 10 cm, most surgeons perform an inverted-T breast lift. Otherwise, vertical breast lift remains an option that will enable control of the nipple-to-breast fold distance, as the vertical scar tends to shorten in the post-operative period with scar contraction.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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

Look Younger for 2019!

 

These are my top 10 hints for looking good next year:

  1. Eat well. Preferably, eat smaller meals as the day goes by and eat frequently. Make it a habit not to eat after 9 pm.
  2. Exercise regularly. Remember: ”healthy body, healthy mind!”
  3. Keep your weight stable and within normal limits. Being overweight can predispose you to certain cancers and diabetes, not to mention, heart attacks, strokes and leg ulcers.
  4. Get your general practitioner to do a physical examination and if necessary, run some basic blood tests.
  5. Avoid the 4”S”: sun, stress, smoking and sleepless nights. These can hasten your aging!
  6. Think skin rejuvenation i.e.; microdermabrasion, peels and laser skin tightening. These will give your skin a definite glow!
  7. Start getting anti-wrinkle injections to iron-out those wrinkles that make you a more youthful appearance!
  8. Use fillers to pump-up that lost volume in the cheeks etc. As we age, the fat melts away in certain pockets in the face as does the underlying bony platform. The end result is excess skin that combines with gravity to make it sag. This effect can be countered by using either synthetic fillers or fat injections.
  9. Think minimal scar surgery to rejuvenate the face e.g. a neck lift or remove those bags under the eyes.
  10. Think about a surgical rejuvenation of the upper eyelids and brows by giving them a lift. The eyes and brows are often the first signs of aging in a woman and they usually start to sag in their early 40s.  Remember, ”the eyes are the windows of your soul” and may tell us a lot about your self-esteem and body image.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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

Teenage Cosmetic Surgery: Why So Much Pressure?

 

There has been a storm brewing for some me now regarding teenage cosmetic surgery.  A concoction made up of quick fixes,  a society obsessed with beauty, and the commercialisation and overexposure of cosmetic surgery. This has all lent themselves to the growth of cosmetic surgery for  Generation  X and younger.  This has been further compounded by the increasing number of medical specialists entering the cosmetic arena.

My worry is that this Generation X and their successors wanting teenage cosmetic surgery may become an abused marketplace.  It would appear that they have it a little easier, in the sense that, they have parents or relatives who have had cosmetic surgery and are approving of it, in an economy that has been both buoyant and robust for some time now.  This takes away from the fact, that teenage cosmetic surgery needs much more scrutiny because it can play on people’s insecurities and promises of an instantly better life.

Most plastic surgeons I believe are responsible individuals with a conscience who try and counsel teenagers, usually in front of their parents, of the risks, benefits, and outcomes of procedures, as well as whether they are appropriate or not. They try very hard to show that TV programs like Extreme Makeover,  Dr.  90210  and  The Swan trivialise and glamourise cosmetic surgery and that glossy magazines like Teen Vogue or Teen Cosmo display airbrushed photos of models and celebrities that are in reality unachievable.

Now teenagers who want to have cosmetic surgery usually have different motivations and goals than adults.  They too have cosmetic surgery to improve physical characteristics they feel are awkward or flawed,  that if left uncorrected, may affect them well into adulthood.  Teens tend to have cosmetic surgery to fit in with peers, to look similar.  Adults tend to have cosmetic surgery to stand out from others.  Teenagers frequently gain self-esteem and confidence when their physical problems are corrected.  In fact, successful teenage cosmetic surgery may reverse the social withdrawal that generally accompanies teenagers who feel different.  Not every teenager seeking cosmetic surgery is well suited for an operation.  Teenagers must demonstrate emotional maturity and an understanding of the limitations of cosmetic surgery.

I would caution teenagers and parents to keep in mind that cosmetic surgery is real surgery, with great benefits, but also carries some risks. Teenagers should have realistic expectations about cosmetic surgery and what it can do for them. In addition, certain milestones in growth and physical maturity must be achieved before undergoing cosmetic surgery. The most rewarding outcomes are expected when the following exist:

  1. The teenager initiates the request.
    The young person must appreciate both the benefits and limitations of cosmetic surgery, avoiding unrealistic expectations about life changes that will occur as a result of the procedure.
  2. The teenager has realistic goals.
    While parental support isn’t lessened at all, the teenager’s own desire for cosmetic surgery must be clearly expressed and repeated over a period of time.
  3.  The teenager has sufficient maturity.
    Teenagers must be able to tolerate the discomfort and temporary disfigurement of a surgical procedure.  Cosmetic surgery is not recommended for teens who are prone to mood swings or erratic behavior, who are abusing drugs and/ or alcohol, or who are being treated for clinical depression or other mental illness.

Some of the commonest teenage cosmetic surgery procedures include:

  1. Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping)

Cosmetic surgery may be performed on the nose to straighten the bridge, remove an unsightly hump, reshape the point or open breathing passages. Ordinarily, this is not performed until the nose reaches its adult size –  about age 15 or 16 in girls and a year later in boys. The procedure accounted for nearly 50 percent of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed on this age group.

2.Otoplasty (ear surgery)

Surgical correction of protruding ears, in which the ears are pinned back, may be performed any time after the age of five. Otoplasty made up 11 percent of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed on this age group.

3. Correction of Breast Asymmetry

When one breast grows to a much larger size than the other, an operation may correct the difference by reducing the larger breast, augmenting the smaller, or both. Many teenagers who want breast augmentation tend to have one breast that is larger than the other – sometimes a full cup size or more in difference. This condition is called breast asymmetry. Using a breast implant in the smaller breast allows the patient to have breasts of the same size. Although waiting may prolong the physical awkwardness, it is advisable to delay surgery until breast growth ceases in order to achieve the best result.

4. Breast Augmentation

Breast implants can be used for breast augmentation in women 18-years or older and for breast reconstruction.

Many teenagers who want breast augmentation to have one breast that is larger than the other -sometimes a full cup size or more in difference. This condition is called breast asymmetry. Using a breast implant in the smaller breast allows the patient to have breasts of the same size. Although waiting may prolong the physical awkwardness, it is advisable to delay surgery until breast growth ceases in order to achieve the best result.

5. Breast Reduction

Surgical reduction of very large breasts can overcome both physical and psychological burdens for a teenage girl.

In fact, many teenagers suffer ongoing back pain due to overly large breasts. Although waiting may prolong the psychological awkwardness, it is advisable to delay surgery until breast growth ceases in order to achieve the best result.

6. Acne and Acne Scar Treatment

Acne eruptions may be controlled by the proper use of modern prescription drugs. In addition to supervising the use of these medications, plastic surgeons may improve acne scars by smoothing or “refinishing” the skin with a laser or with a fine sanding technique called microdermabrasion. Other treatments for acne related skin problems include laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, and chemical peels.

7. Male Breast Reduction (Gynaecomastia)

Teenage boys with large breasts, known as gynecomastia, are often eager to undergo plastic surgery. Surgical correction can be accomplished in a variety of ways including liposuction and/or surgical excision of the breast tissue.

As a plastic surgeon, I am an advocate for the right teenage cosmetic surgery, at the right time, and for the right reason. Things like correction of prominent ears, breast reduction in adolescent boys or breast reconstruction in young girls with an underdeveloped breast can truly advance the person’s quality of life. It is our responsibility as plastic surgeons to guide teenagers (and their parents) in the right direction and to educate them that cosmetic surgery is not a panacea for the everyday pressures that teenagers’ face. Cosmetic surgery can make you more attractive but not necessarily happier!

Question: What do you think is the commonest reason teenagers want cosmetic surgery? You can leave a comment below.