Stacey Chillemi: In what circumstances does a breast augmentation with a lift benefit the patient best?
Dr. Diane Gibby: Many women have a tumultuous, love-hate relationship with their breasts, especially through certain stages of their lives. In adolescence and the teen years, many girls consider their breasts to be excruciatingly small or embarrassingly large. Hours of angst are often spent lamenting the size and shape of their breasts, as well the psychological burden of having to deal with our culture’s preoccupation with these external orbs and all that they represent; femininity, fertility and sex-appeal.
That’s a lot of expectation and pressure put on these body parts that technically consist of milk glands, connected to milk ducts that all converge inside the nipple. The remainder of the internal breast is composed of fatty tissue and fibrous connective tissues that bind the breast together and give it shape.
While it sounds a bit like science colliding with sex, in reality women’s breasts have many levels of significance: they can nourish a baby; they can give visual pleasure; and they play a large part in shaping a woman’s self-image throughout her entire life. The last area is where plastic surgery can play a positive role in a woman’s self-esteem and how she presents herself to the world.
The breast lift (mastopexy) is an increasingly popular procedure for women who want to restore their breasts to a more youthful position and appearance. According to statistics collected by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of mastopexy procedures performed annually in the U.S. has risen 70 percent between 2000 and 2013. This is one of the most commonly requested surgeries as part of a “Mommy Makeover” — a set of cosmetic procedures that help women regain their pre-pregnancy figure.
Aging, breastfeeding, and having large breasts are all factors that can make breasts droop. Fluctuation in breast size from pregnancy or weight gain followed by weight loss can also leave breasts sagging. Hormonal shifts and other metabolic changes that occur as a natural part of getting older impact the connective tissue that helps keep breasts firm and high. Laxity of the skin and underlying tissue and loss of volume in the breast contribute to the ongoing changes women experience as they age.
Some patients, especially those with small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for less extensive procedures, such as the “doughnut (or concentric) mastopexy,” in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped area of the skin is removed.
A breast augmentation may be performed at the same time as a mastopexy. If an implant is inserted at the time of the breast lift, it will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue or under the muscle of the chest wall. On the other hand, some women may prefer to have their breasts made smaller, or reduced, at the time of the breast lift. A reduction-mastopexy can be performed through the same operative incisions.
Before proceeding with a breast lift, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the options available and to discuss any questions or concerns you might have with your doctor. Every patient is unique and her specific needs should be addressed.
Stacey Chillemi: Is there an age limit for breast contouring surgery?
Dr. Diane Gibby: More women over 50 are requesting breast lift surgery and are usually great candidates and eager to enjoy their bodies again after years of being caregivers to others. When women hit 50, metabolic changes due to hormones often change the muscular skeletal system, so if the breasts are not well supported on the chest walls, they can experience a great deal of laxity on their upper bodies.
Age is often less of a consideration than maturity of the patient and their underlying expectations. For many women, the appearance of their breasts plays a huge role in how they see themselves as a whole. For those who lost volume as a result of pregnancy or even simply from the aging process itself, their aged breasts represent a lack of proportion with the rest of their body. For these women, restoration of this lost volume and reshaping of their breasts can dramatically restore a sense of well being, overall proportion, and enhanced self-esteem.
Breast surgery in women, 50, 60 or even 70 is safe when performed on a healthy patient, the recovery period is relatively short and the procedure can be dramatically life changing in terms of physical fitness as well as a general sense of wellbeing. Some of these women had augmentation earlier in life and now find themselves with skin laxity or volume loss as a result of the aging process. Others have developed firmness of the capsule around their implants (capsular contracture) and simply wish to restore a softer, more natural look and feel to their breasts. And others never had augmentation but realize that with an average life expectancy ranging into the 80’s and 90’s, they simply wish to improve their appearance knowing that they have many productive years ahead.
Many mature women are proactively taking charge of their appearance and realize that a more youthful look may have far reaching benefits outside of the bedroom, into the boardroom, and beyond. Numerous studies have shown that how we see ourselves has a dramatic effect on our confidence and our ability to participate effectively in society!
About Dr. Diane Gibby
Dr. Gibby, who specializes in cosmetic breast augmentation surgery and body contouring, even better serves her patients by partnering with Dr. Rod Rohrich, a specialist in cosmetic facial surgery. Dr. Rohrich helped refine the “multiple vector facelift,” which reshapes the face in a more natural manner than in the past. Simply stated, Dr. Gibby and Dr. Rohrich believe that a patient’s ultimate health and vitality are as intricate of a component to the process of cosmetic surgery, as the procedure itself.