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An Enhanced You

Reconstructive breast surgery options

You may have noticed that with age and childbirth, your breasts have changed. Where they were once full and perky, they now may be saggy with a loss of volume, making you feel self-conscious. If this is the case, you are not alone and you can join the thousands of women every year who restore their youthful shape and position of their breasts with a surgical breast lift and breast augmentation.

A mastopexy or breast lift is a surgical procedure that reshapes the breasts to restore their youthful shape. Typically, young breasts have a nipple/areola complex that is centered on the breast. As women age, breasts are transformed by the constant pull of gravity and loss of firmness in the tissue and skin, causing the nipple to move downward and the upper surface of the breast to lose fullness as the breast tissue as a whole begins to sag.

A mastopexy corrects these changes by reshaping the skin and breast area so that the nipple is restored to a higher place on the breast and the breast has a more youthful shape.

For some women who have small breasts or have mainly lost volume, a breast augmentation alone may suffice to restore your breasts appearance. If the breast’s shape has sagged significantly, then an implant alone will not lift it and a mastopexy may be required. It also is important to remember that a breast lift makes the breast smaller in order to restore its shape. Often the loss in size is not visually significant and is more than compensated for by the improvement in the breast shape. If you have lost a significant amount of breast volume, it may be necessary to use breast implants to help restore it.

When considering breast augmentation, the choice between silicone and saline breast implants may initially seem very difficult. Both provide great results and both are safe for the body. In 2006, the FDA concluded after years of extensive research that there is no evidence to connect the use of these implants with breast cancer, autoimmune disorders or other systemic conditions. It also allowed significant improvement in the technology of silicone breast implants, helping them to look, feel and perform even better.

Some women have questions about breastfeeding and mammograms following breast augmentation. The risks affecting the ability to breastfeed are minimal. It is very common to have children and breastfeed successfully after undergoing a breast augmentation. Mammogram screening can be done effectively and safely at an imaging center qualified to perform additional views.

A breast reduction is a surgical option for women that are uncomfortable with their large breasts. The primary goal of this surgery is to reduce the physical and psychological burden of large breasts. Similar to a mastopexy, the goal is to create breasts that have a youthful, attractive shape. The area around the breasts also may be contoured using liposuction to create an overall harmonious appearance.

Recently there has been much discussion regarding a “mommy makeover.” Essentially, this is when breast surgery is combined with an abdominoplasty or a tummy tuck. Many women who have had children are candidates to repair the stretched out abdominal wall and to restore the breasts to their pre-pregnancy shape and appearance. The recovery time is longer than for breast surgery alone, but for many women the idea of one surgery and recovery for both procedures is an appealing option.

For breast surgery recovery, you should take it easy for the first couple of weeks following your surgery. Depending on your job, it is reasonable to return to work after a week as long as you are not required to lift anything greater than 10 to 15 pounds. It also is recommended that you wait at least four weeks to resume vigorous exercise.

When looking for a surgeon to perform your cosmetic breast surgery, select a board-certified plastic surgeon that is a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Your surgery also should be performed in a licensed and accredited surgery center. It is important to find a surgeon who spends time listening to you, working with you to develop a surgical plan that fits your expectations, lifestyle and goals.


Dr. Antonio J. Gayoso, chief of plastic surgery at St. Anthony’s Hospital and Bayfront Medical Center, is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is an active member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

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