For women who are thinking about a breast lift, but may have been concerned about scaring or how long a breast lift really lasts, some newer techniques are now available. There has been a lot of buzz recently about the term “Internal Bra” and what this means to women considering a breast lift. Dr. Caroline Glicksman, a board certified plastic surgeon in Sea Girt, New Jersey, breaks down some of the newest techniques in breast lifts today.
Lift the Breasts with Sutures
“The suture suspension techniques for droopy or ptotic breasts are not new concepts, however techniques that attempted to lift heavy breasts or produce fullness in the upper breast have historically failed,” says Dr. Glicksman.
“The Refine® Internal Breast Suspension System is a newer system that is gaining popularity with some surgeons. This suture system uses three permanent suspension sutures that are passed through the breast tissue allowing surgeons to suspend the breast tissue upward on the chest, producing a breast lift. The sutures should not be palpable, which means you should not be able to feel them, and should not interfere with mammography.”
Most of these suture suspension procedures are performed together with a traditional breast lift or reduction. In other words, they are rarely stand-alone procedures. The biggest problem with this technique is that most women, who need a breast lift or reduction, have a combination of excess skin, and a nipple areola that may be too large or too low. Some type of skin resection/removal is almost always necessary, so a scarless breast lift is very rare.
Say Yes to Mesh!
Another technique involves a biologic or synthetic “mesh” material. There are several new FDA approved materials currently being used, including a product derived from Silk called Seri® Surgical Scaffold. Another surgical mesh is derived from a material similar to absorbable sutures, called GalaFlex®.
“The newest concept in creating internal support is to use materials that can provide a sling for the lower part of the breast and suspend it to the chest wall,” says Glicksman. These materials then slowly breakdown or dissolve, and are gradually replaced by the patient’s own scar tissue. The goal is to create additional long lasting support that the skin alone just can’t do. Other materials that are available to surgeons include Alloderm™ and Strattice™, materials derived from human cells or pigskin, and have been available for many years. These have been shown to be safe and effective in breast reconstruction and the revision of many implant problems. Most importantly, all of these materials have been found to be safe by the FDA, and should not interfere with routine screening mammography.
Talk to Your Doctor to see if You’re a Candidate…
But, Dr. Glicksman cautions, women who are considering adding these materials to their surgical procedure need to be aware that they may add significant financial costs, and lengthen the procedure time. “The “Internal Bra” is not a substitute for a traditional breast lift or reduction.” Dr. Glicksman adds, “There are risks, including the failure to properly attach or suture the mesh, or palpability of the material through very thin skin. We are currently conducting studies to look at the long-term benefits and risks of these “Internal Bras”, but we are clearly in an new era, where if you are a good candidate, these options should be discussed with you.”