Is the Breast Augmentation/Mastopexy Procedure Safe?

Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS, PCEOIn the world of Plastic Surgery, the combination procedure of breast augmentation and breast lift (Augmentation Mastopexy) is considered by many to be one of the most challenging surgeries there is. As such, it is only until recent that many surgeons even considered performing the two together because of the inherent complexity of each procedure on its own. During my training, we were taught that this combination can be a performed but that there are several considerations that need to be appreciated in doing so. And, we were taught that this procedure should only be attempted by a Plastic Surgeon with substantial experience in both areas. A recent paper underscored the complexity but concluded that, in the hands of an experienced Plastic Surgeon, both procedures can be safely combined and very nice results achieved.

To better understand the Augmentation Mastopexy, let’s begin by talking about why this combination may be necessary. For many women who have lost volume to their breasts as a result of pregnancy/breastfeeding, weight loss, or simply from the aging process a standard breast augmentation simply won’t suffice. Aging of the breasts is associated with a very predictable pattern of breast volume loss (especially to the upper and upper lateral pole of the breast), sagging of the overlying skin, and descent of the nipple and areola. Sound depressing? Rest assured, you’re not alone. This process happens very predictably to any woman who has lost substantial volume to her breasts. And when this happens, the degree to which it happens determines the need for a breast lift.

Keep in mind that a breast augmentation can only add volume and may have little to no effect on positioning of the nipple. A quick and easy way to determine if you may need a lift is to look at the position of your nipples relative to the fold beneath your breast. If your nipples are at or below this fold position, there is a good chance a simple augmentation will not do the trick. In this case, while the implant cannot accomplish everything, it does serve the very important role of not only restoring volume but also acting as a form over which I can then shape your breasts.

From there, adding a breast lift to your procedure gives me the ability to accomplish several things. First, if the diameter of your areola have become stretched and enlarged, I can reduce them to a more proportionate size. Next, I can then elevate and reposition your nipple/areola on the most projecting portion of your breast to restore a more youthful appearance. Finally, I can transform the overall shape of your breasts by removing loose skin. When I do so, I convert an elliptical aged breast to a more circular shape, which is then seen as more youthful.

While I make this sound very easy, it is not. The Augmentation Mastopexy is easily one of the more challenging procedures in Plastic Surgery. As such, I caution anyone looking to move forward with this procedure to seek out an experienced Plastic Surgeon well versed in this area. I have worked with a number of patients who initially consulted with me for this procedure but who then went on to choose another surgeon simply because that surgeon was less expensive. And the result? Some of these patients were lucky but many were not. None of us can do everything well and so it is critical that we realize early on what it is that we are good at and what it is that we are not. Sub-specialization in the area of breast surgery has become an important factor in the last 10-15 years and will continue to be important.

To find a qualified surgeon for your Breast Augmentation Mastopexy, I suggest you ask the following questions:

  • • Are you Board Certified in Plastic Surgery?
  • • How many years have you been performing Plastic Surgery?
  • • How many of these procedures do you perform on a yearly basis?
  • • What is your worst complication (in this area) and how did you take care of it?

In addition, ask to speak with former patients who have undergone this procedure and ask them about their experience and if they are happy. Finally, thoroughly research your surgeon on the Internet and see what others are saying. Keep in mind that we all may look good on paper but that we are all not good at everything. Flashy credentials and Ivy League training mean little to nothing when it comes to surgical ability. Experience and a good aesthetic eye may provide much more value in the long run.

I hope that helps. To learn more about this amazing procedure, I encourage you to check out my previous post on the Augmentation/Mastopexy as well as contact us with your questions.  To schedule a consultation, please CLICK HERE.

We look forward to hearing from you!