The Surgeon Minute

Advanced Breast Surgery: GalaFLEX

Advanced Breast Surgery: GalaFLEX

More and more women today are seeking breast lifts. In fact over the last 5 years, there’s been an 89% increase in the number of breast lift procedures according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).  One of the problems with this procedure, however, has been the results don’t always last because the surgeon is operating on compromised tissue, or tissue that’s been stretched due to genetics, pregnancy, weight loss or simply time. Dr. Ashley Gordon and Dr. Dustin Reid of Austin, TX are using a new FDA-approved product called GalaFLEX to markedly improve both the outcome and longevity of their breast surgery results.

by Katherine Stuart
and Dustin Reid, MD and Ashley Gordon, MD

GalaFLEX Creates an Internal Push Up Bra

During a breast lift or a breast reduction, your surgeon will lift and reposition your breast to a higher point on your chest, creating a more youthful look. But your surgeon is working with compromised tissue, or tissue that’s been stretched out and damaged by genetics, weight loss, pregnancy or age. There’s a good chance that since, “it’s already failed once”, it will fail again, says Dr. Gordon. “GalaFLEX is something that we’ve been using in breast surgery to optimize our results and increase the longevity of them.”

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Approved by the FDA, GalaFLEX is an absorbable polymer called P4HB. This naturally occurring polymer is woven together to make a mesh which provides internal support – like an underwire bra – to the breast after a breast lift or breast reduction.“GalaFLEX itself is not permanent,” says Dr. Reid. The analogy he uses it that it’s like a trellis around and through which the patient’s own tissue grows. By about 12-18 months, the mesh is gone, absorbed by the body, leaving behind tissue that is 3-5 times stronger than normal tissue. According to Dr. Gordon, “the patient is making their own internal bra.” GalaFLEX is completely safe. The same polymer has been used in over a million patients worldwide in other surgeries such as abdominal wall reconstruction and orthopedic surgery.

GalaFLEX Has Preventative Uses as Well

When Dr. Reid and Dr. Gordon first started using GalaFLEX, they used it primarily for revisionary surgery since they do a lot of breast revisions. But they quickly recognized it’s huge potential as a preventative measure. Using GalaFLEX with their breast lift and breast reduction patients helps to prevent future sagging, particularly in the bottom half, or “pole” of the breast. In the past, the vertical limb or length from the nipple to the fold would often, “bottom out” meaning it would drop while the nipple and areola would stay the same. With GalaFLEX, this doesn’t happen. The breast holds it shape, thus reducing the risk of multiple breast surgeries.

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For those breast lift patients who didn’t want to go bigger but who in the past would need a small implant to maintain their upper pole fullness, the GalaFLEX allows them to skip the implant. The GalaFLEX, “makes them look like maybe they did have an implant because the volume is up and the shape of the breast is so nice,” says Dr. Reid. For those breast augmentation clients who want a large implant but whose body could not necessarily sustain one, the GalaFLEX allows them to achieve the look that they desire without running the risk of future sagging or complications.

In terms of recovery, there may be a bit more initial pain since the mesh needs to be sutured to tissue that covers the ribs or muscles. And since it’s paramount to minimize any sheer on the GalaFLEX while the tissues grow in, there are a few more activity restrictions such as no heavy lifting for a couple months and no intense stretching. Otherwise, using the GalaFLEX doesn’t add any time to your recovery.

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