Pregnancy can take a toll on our bodies, affecting our breasts, tummies, legs and more. After nine months—or more, if nursing—you are probably longing for your pre-baby body. Whether you choose a healthy regimen of diet and exercise, minimally invasive cosmetic treatments, cosmetic procedures or all of the above, you might also consider a Mommy Makeover to get back in shape. The Mommy Makeover, which addresses a woman’s post-pregnancy body issues in a single-session surgery that typically combines the following:
This has to be one of our most satisfying operations. Patients who have struggled with neck, back, and shoulder pain due to breast enlargement are thrilled not only with their pain relief, but with the smaller and more shapely breast that has resulted. The deep shoulder grooves from heavy bras resolve, and patients just look smaller as well.
Am I a candidate?
The above symptoms, with the addition of some headaches, are the typical presentation of someone with excessive breast size. Patients often find that elevating the breasts or lying down help with the symptoms. Deep bra strap grooves and the presence of rashes under the breasts are often associated as well. Patients often have to seek help at specialty bra shops as clothing stores won’t have garments large enough.
What about insurance?
This is quite variable from company to company. Generally, if you have neck, back, and shoulder pain due to breast enlargement, and you have rashes or deep grooves, you are a likely a candidate. Usually a referral from a primary care physician or chiropractor to us is required, so it’s good to have that lined up ahead of time. The insurance company often requires a certain amount of breast tissue be removed, and we will help you with this estimate. We then send a letter requesting authorization from the insurance company.
How is the procedure done?
This is an outpatient procedure with a general anesthetic. Markings are performed before surgery to get the precise pattern we want. Incisions are made around the areolar, and from the areola to the fold under the breast. Usually there is an incision under the breast as well if you have a lot of extra skin. Be wary of surgeons who advertise breast reduction with small incisions, because frequently those breasts end up drooping again soon. We are comfortable with all the techniques, and will educate you about your best option.
What are the risks?
Healing problems, mostly small ones, can occur after breast reduction. Infections and bleeding are uncommon but not impossible. Changes in nipple sensation are usually temporary, but can be permanent. Very rarely a nipple can be lost to a blood supply problem. The breasts may not be the exact same size, or the nipples in the exact same location. Scars might be permanently visible or get thick. For the most part, the patients who have this procedure are so happy with the way they feel that they have remarkably few complaints.
We consider breast reconstruction one of the most important things we do. The chance to meaningfully help someone at one of the most difficult times in their lives is the reason we went into medicine. The possibility of a mastectomy for cancer or other breast disease, or the deformity that has some after a lumpectomy, is daunting for most women. We feel we provide a highly supportive, caring, and warm environment for those facing this challenge.
Where do I start?
After the detection of a lump, and the visits with your primary care physician and likely a general surgeon, it may be appropriate for you to see a plastic surgeon. They, and you, may have determined that mastectomy is right for you, or at least a possibility. We can then educate you about breast reconstruction and its possible role in your situation. We will also coordinate your care with the other providers, so that everyone understands the plan and the reasons for it. We will show pictures and drawings, examine you carefully for all the options available, and even put you in touch with our other patients if you wish.
What are the options?
This is a highly customized situation, depending on your tumor, your body, your preferences regarding the extent of the surgery, and many other factors. Your consultation will help you with these decisions.
The most common method of reconstruction in this country is the expander/implant method. At the time of the mastectomy, a shaped envelope is placed under the pectoral muscle of the chest. We also use a piece of bio engineered skin to cover this envelope, which is called a tissue expander. Over the next several weeks after surgery, the expander can be filled with saline through the skin, and gradually the skin and muscle are expanded so that a permanent implant, usually a silicone gel implant, can be placed at a second, outpatient surgery. The advantage to this method is that it involves no additional incisions beyond that of the mastectomy, it is relatively simple, and most patients are satisfied with it. The disadvantages are that the implants are not your own tissue, they may not feel as natural, and there may be visible rippling of the implant. They are also not desirable if you are going to have radiation, as they can get quite hard.
Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
A saggy or droopy breast is the result of an excess of skin for the available breast tissue. Pregnancy can cause the breast to grow and swell, stretching the skin, but when the breast returns to its normal size after the conclusion of breast feeding, the excess skin left behind can lead to a droopy breast. Weight loss or normal aging can do the same thing. Basically a sagging breast is one in which there is too much skin and not enough breast.
The solution is to add breast volume or to reduce the amount of excess skin, or both. There isn’t a procedure where we move the breast up and tie it down, unfortunately (although many have tried).
The procedure is usually done under general anesthesia, although smaller lifts can be done with a local anesthetic. The doctor will perform precise drawings on you prior to the operation, which takes about an hour and a half to two hours. The appearance of the breast may appear tight and unnatural at first, but this quickly “ripens” into a nice shape. The scars fade over a 6-12 month period.
Male Breast Reduction
It goes without saying that male breast enlargement is upsetting. This condition may be from birth (congenital), obesity, some types of drugs, or rarely, a hormonal problem.
The doctor will do a careful history and examination to make sure there are no medical causes that require treatment. The extent of the procedure depends on how much excess tissue and skin you have. It may include only a liposuction procedure, a small incision with a lighted scope retractor to remove breast tissue, or a procedure that involves removal of skin and visible scars. We will educate you about all the alternatives.
How is it done?
Usually general anesthesia is required. Markings are performed before surgery. The procedure takes from 45 minutes to 2 hours, and is an outpatient procedure. We don’t usually use drains or tubes.
We’ll have you wear some type of compression garment for a month, and watch the vigorous upper body activity for a while depending on the extent of the procedure. Most types of work are OK right away, maybe reduced activity if you have a very physical job.
Scars are a possibility, although most guys think they are worth it. Changes in nipple sensation are not uncommon, not usually permanent. Infections and wound problems are rare.
Breast Asymmetry Surgery
Many women are born with breasts that are uneven in size and shape, which may or may not be noticeable to others. These differences in breasts are often undetectable to patients themselves, causing no problems at all, while other women can have obvious asymmetry, which can cause both an unbalanced appearance and emotional distress.
Asymmetric breasts can be corrected through surgery that either enlarges the smaller breast or reduces the larger one. Implants can be placed in smaller breasts or a breast reduction can be performed on larger breasts. If the nipples appear at different heights, surgery can relocate one or both of the nipples.
All of these options produce breasts that are more similar in appearance, working with each woman’s unique body to achieve the best possible results. Creating a more balanced appearance can help improve physical balance, self-confidence and body image.
Congenital Breast Abnormalities
Congenital breast abnormalities are defects in the breast that are present from birth. The most common types are extra, or accessory, nipples and breast tissue. Between two and six percent of people are estimated to have these deformities. Most people with accessory nipples have more than one and they can occur from the underarm to the groin. Sometimes patients are not even aware of their existence because they may be mistaken for moles. Accessory breast tissue is most often found in the underarm area.
Poland’s syndrome is a congenital cause of breast asymmetry in which there are underdeveloped or absent chest muscles and breast bone on one side of the body. In milder cases, Poland’s syndrome might not be noticeable until a child reaches puberty, when breast and chest development make missing muscle mass apparent. It occurs much more frequently in males than in females.
Other types of congenital abnormalities that are relatively uncommon are severe underdevelopment or absence of one or both breasts or nipples. When the breast tissue is missing, it usually occurs in tandem with abnormalities of the underlying muscles and rib cage. Plastic surgical correction can remedy these deficits and offer a significantly better quality of life.