A breast lift (mastopexy) with implants simultaneously raises sagging breasts and increases the patient's cup size. This procedure ensures that breasts remain firm and perky for a significant period of time. Breast implants are not as susceptible to gravity as natural breast tissue; therefore they maintain their height and shape more easily than natural breasts.
The Mastopexy with Augmentation Procedure
Plastic surgeons perform the breast lift with implants procedure similarly to a standard mastopexy surgery; the difference is that the surgeon will also insert a silicone or saline implant. The surgeon begins by making an incision through which excess sagging skin is removed.(Note: the type of incision made is discussed prior to the surgery; options include the anchor-shaped, doughnut, or lollipop incision. This is dependent on your breast shape and size and the surgeon’s preference.) The surgeon then places the implant beneath the pectoral muscle or mammary gland, and closes the incision.
Benefits of Breast Lift with Implants
The breast lift with implants procedure most notably improves the position and cup size of the breasts, reversing the effects that gravity, pregnancy, and significant weight loss can have on the bust line. The added benefit of the combination of a lift with implants is that the results of the lift are prolonged with the placement of the implants. Breasts generally remain full and perky for a long time.
Risks and Complications of Mastopexy with Augmentation
However rare they may be, complications with breast augmentation and breast lift surgeries are a risk. To ensure that you are aware of the potential risks and complications - specifically those associated with breast implants - consider the following possible side effects that may occur:
The mastopexy with augmentation creates noticeable scars. Often a permanent scar is visible from the bottom of the nipple vertically to the base of the breast, or around the areola. It is also possible to get the doughnut mastopexy procedure with implants, which creates a circular scar around the nipple. Scars will diminish with time; however, scarring is definitely something to consider before undergoing the surgery.
When operating on a patient, surgeons take hefty precautions to prevent infection, which is one of several possible breast lift complications. However, as with any surgery, infection is still possible in the mastopexy with augmentation procedure. If there is an infection, the implant will have to be removed for approximately six months, meaning there will be a dramatic difference in the size of your breasts for that period of time.
If you choose to receive a breast lift with implants, there is the possibility of further complications than with a standard mastopexy procedure. Capsular contracture appears when there is scarring and firmness around the implant, causing it to look and feel unnatural as well as cause discomfort. More common with silicone implants than saline implants, mild capsular contracture may not even be noticed. Severe capsular contracture may require removing the implant and inserting a new implant in its place. Placing the implant below the muscle reduces the risk of capsular contracture.
There is the possibility of losing sensation around the nipples following breast lift surgery with implants. Often, loss of nipple sensation is not permanent and will return a few weeks after breast implant surgery.
Mastopexy with augmentation can occasionally result in implant deflation if the placed implants are not filled enough. If there is not enough pressure inside the implant, the shell of the implant will fold back and forth with the natural movement of your body and may eventually tear. This creates the possibility that the implant may leak and then deflate, returning your breast to its original size within about a day. There is about a four percent chance of this complication during the first year after your surgery, and the risk decreases after that.
Implant deflation is not a serious issue with saline breast implants because the salt water is not overly harmful for the body. However, implant deflation may pose more of a problem for patients with silicone breast implants, which were released back on the market in November of 2006.
In some cases, receiving a breast lift with implants can result in visible “waves” along the top side of the breast. Referred to as “wrinkling” by some doctors, the condition is caused by under-filled saline implants moving within the breast, and occurs more frequently with smooth implants than textured ones. Placing the implant under the breast tissue reduces the chance of rippling.
Though implant displacement is not generally a common problem, your breast implants could possibly “drift” underneath your breast. Should one or both move a significant amount, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to reposition the implant(s). Also, larger implants are more likely to move down the body as you age.
A hematoma is a collection of blood around the implant that can occur any time after the surgery, although it is more likely to occur shortly following the procedure when there has been trauma to the tissue. Hematomas can happen after a breast lift with implants, and can cause further problems such as capsular contracture and even possible infection. The body is able to absorb small hemotomas. Unfortunately, larger hematomas require specific surgical drains to promote healing, which may leave a small scar where the drain is placed. There is also the risk of puncturing the implant during the draining process, causing the implant to deflate.
Ptosis and Implants
Ptosis is the clinical word for sagging or drooping breasts. Many women are interested in increasing their cup size, but have moderate to severe ptosis in their breasts. It is highly recommended that these patients undergo a breast lift with their implants. If women with sagging breasts don’t opt for a breast lift procedure when they receive implants, it is likely that certain complications may arise following implant surgery. Doctors often warn of conditions known as “double bubble” or “bulging.” A double bubble is a deformity where bulges of skin hang out below the breast implant. “Bulging” is another condition where it appears that excess breast skin is hanging unnaturally off the implant. In both cases, a breast lift can be performed following implant surgery to increase the aesthetics of the breast.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view breast lift before and after photos.
Photo credit: Sutton L Graham, II, MD, FACS
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If you want to learn more about getting a breast lift with implants, search DocShop for a comprehensive list of qualified surgeons in your area. Find out whether or not a mastopexy with augmentation is right for you by discussing your options with a cosmetic surgeon.