Breast surgery tends to be one of the most popular types of cosmetic surgery requested by women of every age. Women may feel they need to improve the size, or shape of their breasts, but are often unsure about which procedure will produce the look they want. Fortunately, there are many different procedures and they can be used in different combinations that can improve the appearance of each breast. It is important to know what each procedure entails, and who is a good candidate, so that you can select the most appropriate for you and your situation.
Breast augmentation, sometimes called a breast enhancement on many web sites, sounds like a general term, but it is so much more. Also referred to as an augmentation mammaplasty, this type of procedure is used to change the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. Women who desire a breast augmentation can be divided into three groups: those who are very small breasted, and desire to be larger, those who have lost volume and shape either because of pregnancies and breastfeeding or weight loss, and those who want larger breasts for other personal reasons. Breast augmentation has evolved dramatically over the last 35 years and American women finally have access to the same choices in silicone implants as woman around the world.
A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy, is a procedure that generally lifts the breasts so that they are no longer sagging. Weight loss, pregnancy and breastfeeding can result in the breasts becoming saggy and losing their overall firmness. It is very important that women understand that a breast augmentation is not a fix for very droopy breasts, and the reduction of excess skin and loose breast tissue must be addressed as a separate issue. Unfortunately many women are fearful of the potential scarring produced by a breast lift, and either request implants or are talked into implants. The results of implants alone for a woman who really needed a lift are very short lived, as skin stretch only becomes worse with the added weight of the implants. These decisions should be made between an experienced surgeon board certified plastic surgeon and the patient, but women should be offered the most long lasting procedure for their problem.
A breast reduction is a breast surgery procedure that is used when a woman is very large busted and has problems that may include chronic back pain, deep grooves in her shoulders from years of bra strap pressure and possibly rashes under the breasts, all as a result of the excess weight of the breasts. There was a time when excessively large breasts (also known as macromastia) was considered a medical condition and covered by almost all insurance plans. Unfortunately those days are long gone for many women seeking this procedure. Insurance companies are requiring years of documentation and many require over a year of physical therapy before they will approve this procedure. Usually only women who require a very large volume reduction will be eligible for insurance coverage. This unfortunately excludes the vast majority of women who may very well benefit from this procedure. For many women breast reduction surgery has become an out of pocket elective cosmetic procedure.
Men who have experienced gynecomastia, a condition that results in the enlargement of male breasts, are also good candidates for breast reduction procedures. Gynecomastia is most common in adolescent males, but can occur at any age. Male breast enlargement may occur because of many conditions, including hormonal conditions, tumor, weight gain, and as a side effect of steroids or recreational drug use. The treatment varies based on the individual’s age, anatomy, and desired cosmetic outcome. In general, today surgeons use a combination of direct surgical excision and liposuction techniques to contour the chest and create a more masculine look. Insurance rarely covers this procedure.
Breast Reconstruction after Cancer
Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery that is used to restore a woman’s breast that has been altered by a surgical procedure to remove a malignancy. The goals of breast reconstruction have changed over the years, and are now more about creating an aesthetically beautiful and long lasting reconstruction, not just about giving a woman something to fill her bra. Meticulous attention to detail begins with the team approach between the oncologic surgeon and the plastic surgeon. Planning for the desired breast shape and size begins before the very first procedure. The newest highly cohesive form stable breast implants can provide the most natural appearing breast reconstructions and have very low complication rates. Although the total amount of benefits provided by each insurance plan may vary, breast reconstruction after cancer is mandated by Federal law under the Women’s Health and Cancer Right’s Act of 1998.