Mommy Make Over Breast Rejuvenation

Breast Rejuvenation

Changes in breast shape and volume during pregnancy and after child birth often take the mother through a mammary roller coaster ride. This is because the breast changes associated with this process often go from one extreme to the other. During pregnancy, the expectant mother is often pleasantly surprised with the more robust and perky breasts she develops. Usually, she is very happy with this natural breast augmentation.

Unfortunately, the newfound breast enhancement does not last. After child birth the engorged breasts lose their volume. Not uncommonly, the breasts become even smaller than they were before pregnancy. In addition, the expanded skin has lost its ability to tighten back leaving the breasts sagging. In addition to the sagginess, one breast is often lower or smaller than the other leaving the breasts not only saggy but quite asymmetric. To compensate for these changes, the new mother often will wear push up bras to recreate the cleavage and the upper breast fullness that she has lost. Actually, the bra does a reasonably good job because the sagging breast tissue is easily lifted. The problem comes, however, when the bra is removed. This can be quite disturbing. The droopy breasts make the woman look much older than she feels and certainly less sexy.

We routinely hear the same comments from our mommy makeover patients. They know they have been blessed by their children but they are saddened by the toll it has taken on their breasts. 

Outlined below is the technical answer to the most frequently asked question from Joseph T Cruise, MD's mommy makeover patients, "Do I need a breast lift?" and if so, "what will my scars look like?" 

It is extremely important to explain exactly what you want to obtain as far as breast lifting goes. Some women are only concerned with correcting the sagginess while others are also concerned with cleavage and fullness in the upper breast. It is important to be able to predict both breast size and shape after the breast lift. Some women want a fuller look, therefore, are best served by adding an implant in addition to the breast lift. This is all personal preference, but it is important to understand the desire of each patient so that the procedure can be tailored to her particular needs.

1. Incisions

Incisions are perhaps the biggest concern. They have seen or heard of horror stories of breast lifting gone wrong leaving the patient with significant scarring. It is important to understand that plastic surgeons do not control how an individual patient scars. Some patients scar worse than others. Plastic surgeons can, however, control the placement and precision of the scar. This is part of the artistry of plastic surgery.

Joseph T Cruise, MD understands your concern about placing scars on your breast. He takes this into consideration before operating on any patient. The truth is, if you have significant sag, a proper breast lift with augmentation is far superior to an augmentation alone. In fact, an augmentation alone may give you a very elongated, older appearing breast. This has been given the nickname "rock in a sock" look. What we are looking for is a lifted, round appearance seen in a youthful breast.

Patient treated with breast augmentation alone who really needed breast augmentation in conjunction with a breast lift. The surgeon placed the implants very low to avoid a breast lift. In reality, this created a very elongated, older appearance of the breast and significantly shorter abdomen.

The same patient after anchor breast lift, elevation of inframammary fold and changing implant to a smaller size. Notice the upper fullness, improved cleavage and longer torso.

The same patient after anchor breast lift, elevation of inframammary fold and changing implant to a smaller size. Notice the upper fullness, improved cleavage and longer torso.

Double-bubble, also known as, "Snoopy Deformity"
"Double Bubble" (also known as "Snoopy Dog Deformity") Example of a breast that needed a breast lift with augmentation but was treated with augmentation alone. This is different than the "rock in the sock" appearance because the implant was placed in the normal position not in a lower position.

It is important to find a plastic surgeon with considerable experience with this procedure. A breast lift with augmentation is very challenging as there are many variables going on all at once.

When evaluating sag, the entire breast along with the patients wishes need to be taken into consideration. To make things as simple as possible, I will discuss the two most important considerations. They are not absolute measurements. These are the

      • relationship of the nipple to the Infra-mammary Fold (IMF)
      • the relationship of the bottom of the breast to the IMF. Other factors, of course, will need to be discussed at the time of consultation.

Diagram of nipple placement

Before we get started, it is important to point out that breasts with more natural breast tissue are more likely to need a lift. This is because the bottom of the breast will continue to fall. To remedy this, removing this breast tissue with a lift will correct the sag and actually decrease the chance of sag in the future.

Another consideration is the size of the implant. A bigger implant will provided more lift. This makes sense as more volume will fill the excess skin envelop more adequately. Of course, you should not go with a larger implant for this reason as the amount of lift that an implant can provide is limited.

Doing a breast lift alone rarely produces a great result as usually there is very little breast tissue in the upper chest. This can only be adequately treated by augmentation. Even patients with significant breast tissue usually benefit from the upper breast fullness created by an implant. In these cases, I usually will remove all the undesirable sagging breast tissue and put in a relatively small implant to create an attractive upper breast with cleavage.

There are four common breast lifts:

  1. Augmentation Alone
  2. Augmentation with Donut lift
  3. Augmentation with Lollipop lift
  4. Augmentation Anchor lift

Diagram of common breast incision sitesCommon Breast Augmentation Incisions

Peri-areolar ("donut") incision
Peri-areolar Incision
(Donut Lift).

Lollipop breast augmentation incisionPeri-areolar Incision with Vertical Incision

Anchor breast augmentation incisionPeri-areolar Incision with Vertical and Horizontal Incision. (Anchor Lift)

    • Augmentation Alone

Once again, this will depend on the size of the implant. Usually, augmentation is all that is necessary when the nipple is above the level of the IMF and the bottom of the breast is no greater than 1 cm below the IMF. This is especially true when there is not much breast tissue. Heavier breasts require more to lift them.

Nipple placement that is ideal for breast augmentation

37 year old female with minimal breast sag corrected by breast implant alone.

    • Donut Lift

The Donut lift is also known as the peri-areolar lift. It involves removing skin in the shape of a circle around the areola and placing a suture within this circle. This circular suture acts as a purse string to tighten this bigger circle into a smaller circle. This elevates the nipple into a higher position and tightens the skin envelope. The down-side of the Donut lift is that the purse string effect of the suture can flatten the breast. This is why an implant is highly recommended to combat this flattening.

One misnomer is that the Donut lift is more of a nipple lift than a breast lift. This is because it does not really lift sagging breast tissue that has dropped more than 2 cm below the IMF. It does however, elevate the nipple. It is ideal for the breast that has minimal sag and not much tissue.

Nipple to IMF relationship

34 year old woman with minimal breast sag corrected by breast augmentation and Donut breast lift.

    • Lollipop Breast Lift

This type of breast lift involves an incision around the areola and straight down the bottom of the breast. Patients often do not want this lift because they do not want the vertical incision. This incision, if properly placed, is quite acceptable. The reality is, if it is necessary, it is a far better procedure than the donut lift as it actually removes the hanging breast tissue. Further sag in the future is dramatically reduced or prevented.

Ideal nipple placement for lollipop breast lift

This woman has nipple descent 4 cm below the IMF and breast descent 5 cm below IMF. She will most likely need a breast augmentation with Lollipop breast lift.

28 year-old female with some breast sag corrected by lollipop breast lift with 410cc implant.

  • Anchor Lift

The Anchor lift is quite similar to the Lollipop lift except that it has an additional incision that falls within the IMF. This extra incision is necessary to remove excess skin from breast sag. The horizontal incision within the IMF is actually not visible in a standing position and is quite hard to see.

Candidates for the Anchor lift are women whose breast tissue falls significantly below the IMF. Whether or not this horizontal skin removal is necessary depends on many things. If the bottom of your breast is greater than 5 cm below the IMF a horizontal incision will usually be necessary.

The length of the horizontal incision depends on how far the bottom of the breast falls. For example, a breast 8 cm below the IMF will need a longer horizontal incision than one with 6 cm below the IMF.

Ideal nipple placement for anchor breast lift

This woman has nipple descent greater than 4 cm below the IMF and breast descent greater than 5 cm below the IMF. She, most likely, will need an Anchor lift.

38 year-old patient who had significant descent. Breast sag was corrected with anchor breast lift and augmentation with 295cc saline implant.

2. Implant or No Implant

Breast Lifting does a wonderful job of lifting breast tissue that has fallen below the level of the IMF. It does not, however, do a good job of creating upper breast fullness and cleavage. This is why I strongly recommend using an implant to accomplish what the lift alone cannot. While I still do breast lifts alone, the result is compromised. Fortunately, most women in Southern California are willing to accept an implant in return for an improved result.

If you are considering a lift without an implant you can always add the implant later. Some surgeons actually prefer this way as it does make the procedure easier. I will recommend a two stage approach if the nipples have fallen greater than 10 cm below the IMF. This is because when the nipple is elevated greater than 10 cm there is a risk of loss of blood supply to the nipple.

Once the decision is made to add an implant the next choice is to decide on which implant is best. Those of you who have survived reading this far, I give you credit. This additional information is provided in the Breast Enlargement section. I encourage you to go there as it is really good information.