The Surgeon Minute

Say Goodbye to Sagging Breasts

Say Goodbye to Sagging Breasts

Gravity, aging and pregnancy gradually transform breasts from firm and perky to loose and droopy, an unfortunate fact. Thousands of bras promise to boost, lift and support your falling girls, but if you’re looking for a lift that lasts when the bra comes off, it may be time to visit a board certified plastic surgeon.

Breast lift surgery, also called mastopexy, involves removing excess skin and re-positioning the remaining tissue, as well as moving the nipple and areola to a more central position of the breast. With a traditional breast lift, there is no change in volume of the breast beyond condensing tissue into a smaller space. Many women, however, opt to add breast implants at the time of breast lift surgery in order to replace the volume lost after breastfeeding.

During Breast Lift Surgery:

  • Excess skin is removed
  • Remaining breast tissue is reshaped
  • The nipple and areola are re-positioned centrally on the breast
  • The size of the breast remains generally the same, unless an implant is added

Both breast augmentation and breast lift surgery are popular procedures that are on the rise in the United States. According to statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in the year 2000 approximately 53,000 women underwent breast lift surgery. In 2016, that number had nearly doubled to 101,000 breast lift surgeries. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ned Snyder of Austin details the modern breast lift and how he finds some of the greatest patient satisfaction following surgery.

Breast Augmentation or Breast Augmentation with a Lift?

Will a breast augmentation alone lift drooping breasts? For Dr. Snyder, it’s a question that comes up often during consultations. 

The answer, he says, depends on the individual patient’s anatomy. While it IS possible to improve the look of a deflated breast by adding an implant, it may not provide the degree of improvement they desire. Often, women want fullness up top, similar to the boost provided by a push-up bra. The added volume an implant alone adds does not always reach the upper portion of the breast. “If somebody’s goal is to restore fullness in the upper part of the chest, we may not be able to do that with implants alone,” explains Dr. Snyder. “You may feel that we’ve made your breasts larger, but you may also find that it still sits low if we only went with implants.”

When a woman is small chested to begin with, adding an implant could very well offset the drooping she has experienced with aging. Larger deflated breasts, on the other hand, require a much larger implant to fill out the excess loose skin of a large, deflated breast. In a breast that has not been surgically lifted, gravity pulls that heavy implant down and it tends to sit low within the chest. “In that patient,” adds Dr. Snyder, “I always encourage them to get a lift.”

Some People Could Go Either Way

To better illustrate potential difference in procedures to patients who are “in between” needing a lift with an augmentation, or an augmentation alone, Dr. Snyder uses before and after photos of previous patients.

“I always end up showing my patients other patients that could have gone either way in that conversation,” says Snyder. “‘This is somebody who might have done better with a lift, but this is what they look like with implants,’  versus, ‘This is somebody who looks similar who got a lift and implants.’  he patient can then decide whether they would be happy with the degree of change that the pictures demonstrate with a lift alone, or if they would prefer to go with a more noticeable lift.”

GalaFlex: Maximize a Lift with Internal Support

Removing excess skin during a breast lift allows surgeons to restore a youthful shape to an aging breast. Unfortunately, if a patient has poor quality skin, the skin will continue to stretch even after surgery. Today, surgeons like Dr. Snyder have new tools available that can help make breast lift results last longer than ever before. “We have something now called GalaFLEX, an absorbable mesh structure,” he explains. “It gives us a lot of support, providing for a longer lasting lifted breast. It really helps us with upper pole fullness.

The mesh material, commonly referred to as an internal bra or scaffold, is placed in the lower portion of the breast during surgery, where it supports the weight of the breast tissue and implant. In the months following surgery, the body begins to break down the mesh, replacing it with collagen. Within a year or two after surgery, the mesh has been absorbed by the body, leaving behind natural, healthy tissue to provide long term support.

Breast augmentation options are aplenty, which is a new development in the field. Never before have patients had so many options to choose from. Put another way, patients have never had an opportunity to have a procedure this custom-tailored to their unique anatomy. Board certified plastic surgeons like Dr. Snyder are not in the business of one-size-fits-all; a thorough consultation and back and forth between physician and patient will ultimately lead to a custom procedure that achieves patient goals.

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