What Is a Laser Breast Lift?

If women could wear an invisible bra day and night, we wouldn’t have to worry about sagging, droopy breasts . . . or would we? Developed as a natural alternative to breast reduction or augmentation, the laser breast lift, or Stevens laser bra, uses a woman’s tissues to create a support structure for drooping breasts. But does the laser bra fight the effects of gravity any more effectively than other breast enhancement procedures?

During a traditional breast lift, or mastopexy, the nipple is temporarily removed from the breast, and a segment of skin below the nipple is cut away in order to tighten the breast tissue. The nipple is replaced at a higher point on the breast mound, creating a more youthful profile, and the excess skin is discarded. In a laser lift, the plastic surgeon uses the surgically removed skin to create an internal “bra,” which is treated with a laser then attached to the chest wall to hold up the breasts.

This procedure, called the Stevens laser bra after the plastic surgeon who developed the method, utilizes the body’s own tissues to provide additional support for the breasts. Surgical mesh could also be used to prevent drooping and sagging, but synthetic mesh poses a risk that an infection may develop or that the body may reject the foreign material. With the Stevens method, these risks are minimized. The laser lift reinforces the surgically enhanced breast without adding extra time to the procedure. Although the laser lift is advertised as a natural option for women who want to increase or reduce the size of their breasts, some women choose to combine a laser lift with reduction or augmentation to enhance the results of surgery.

The Stevens method is designed to prevent “fallout,” or the drooping of the base of the breast after surgery, and to give your lift more longevity. The weight of your breast tissue and your activity level will also play a part in how long a mastopexy lasts. Women who engage in vigorous sports or who decide to breastfeed after a laser lift may have premature sagging. Skeptics say that because the laser bra is created from a woman’s skin, this support system will succumb to gravity just like any other human tissue. But proponents have found that the laser bra is a safe, effective way to provide additional reinforcement during breast enhancement surgery.

Will you be more satisfied with a laser bra lift than with a conventional mastopexy, breast reduction or augmentation? The answer will depend on your anatomy, your lifestyle and your personal preferences. To make an informed decision, consult several board certified plastic surgeons about your aesthetic goals.

Breast Implants and Symmastia (“Breadloafing”)

Symmastia isn’t a word that comes up in everyday conversation very often, but if you develop this condition after a breast augmentation, you’re probably very aware of what the word means. Also known as “breadloafing,” symmastia occurs when breast implants are placed so close together that they create the appearance of a single breast. Symmastia isn’t a common complication of breast augmentation, and when it does occur, surgical revision can usually fix the problem.

In the days following breast augmentation surgery, when your breast tissues are swollen, your breasts will look larger and more closely spaced than they’ll eventually appear. But as the swelling subsides, you should have enough space between your breasts to give you visible cleavage. If your newly enhanced breasts meet along your breastbone, you may have symmastia, or medial malpositioning.

Symmastia occurs when the tissue pocket created by the plastic surgeon is over-cut or is overly stretched on the breastbone side. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the “uni-breast” effect, including:

  • Over-dissection. Sometimes a plastic surgeon will make a deep cut in the tissues along the breastbone in order to create cleavage. This technique may have the unintentional effect of positioning the implants too close together.
  • Thin chest tissues. If you have very little fat tissue covering your natural breasts, or the skin on your chest is thin, implants may overextend the capsule.
  • The structure of the chest. In some women, the natural anatomy of the breastbone or ribcage can cause breast implants to move too close together.
  • Large implants. Very large breast implants can overstretch the tissues, especially in thinner women.

Surgical revision is usually required to repair the tissue pockets, reposition the implants and secure the tissues so that the implants don’t move to the middle of your chest again. If large implants are contributing to the problem, your surgeon may recommend replacing them with a smaller size. A board certified plastic surgeon with experience in symmastia revision can talk with you about your options and help you get the evenly spaced, aesthetically pleasing breasts you’re looking for.

Breast Implants and ALCL: Understanding the Risks

If you’ve had breast augmentation or you’re thinking about breast enhancement surgery, it’s important to understand the risks involved with implants. Although the association between breast implants and ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma) appears to be very small, women should be informed that their chances of contracting this rare form of cancer are slightly higher if they have implants.

Is ALCL the same as breast cancer?

ALCL is not a form of breast cancer; it’s a malignant condition that affects the white blood cells that make up part of your immune system. ALCL usually doesn’t start in breast tissue, but a few cases have occurred in the tissue capsule surrounding saline or silicone implants.

How common is ALCL in women with implants?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only 60 cases of ALCL have been reported in women with breast implants around the world. Out of these cases, some reports have not been scientifically documented, and other reports may be duplicates. When you compare this number to the estimated 5 to 10 million women who’ve had breast implants around the globe, the risk is extremely low, notes Dr. Stuart Linder, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who has studied the topic extensively.

How do I know if I have ALCL?

Most of the women who were diagnosed with ALCL had lumps, swelling or pain around the implant site before the cancer was discovered. In the majority of these cases, ALCL was found years after the original breast augmentation. The medical community has always recommended that women with implants report any pain, new growths, or changes in breast shape to a physician as soon as possible.

Should I have my implants removed just to be on the safe side?

The FDA, which monitors the safety of breast implants and other medical devices in the U.S., does not recommend that women have their implants removed unless they have symptoms of ALCL and have been evaluated by a physician. Dr. Binita Ashar, one of the scientists investigating the relationship between ALCL and breast implants, states that women with implants should continue to examine their breasts regularly for any changes. Women who are thinking about getting implants should be aware of all the risks associated with these devices.

What is the FDA doing about ALCL and breast implants?

The FDA is working with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to build a registry of women with implants who have developed ALCL. So far the FDA hasn’t revised its policies on breast implants, because there hasn’t been enough evidence to support any changes. The FDA has made it a priority to keep consumers informed of new developments in its research on breast implants and ALCL.

What is Ptosis, and How Does It Affect Breast Augmentation?

Ptosis may be hard to spell, but it’s not usually hard to see. In plain English, this medical term means “drooping.” Plastic surgeons use the word to describe a breast that’s succumbed to the effects of aging, breastfeeding, genetics or gravity. If your breasts are looking a little droopy after pregnancy or a substantial weight loss, you might be considering a breast augmentation and/or lift.

Many plastic surgeons use a standardized grading system to determine whether you’d be a good candidate for a breast lift. This grading system is based on the distance between your nipple and the inframammary crease, or the line where the underwire of a bra would rest.

  • Glandular ptosis (mild droop): The breast itself hangs below the underwire, but the nipple is still higher than the line.
  • Grade I (minor droop): The nipple sits at the level of the underwire line.
  • Grade II (moderate droop): The nipple is still higher than the lower half of the breast, but it falls below the underwire line.
  • Grade III (severe droop): The nipple falls below the underwire line and droops below the breast itself, pointing downward.

If you have glandular or Grade I ptosis, your plastic surgeon may recommend a simple breast augmentation to contour your breasts and elevate your nipples. If your ptosis is more advanced, a breast lift, or mastopexy, may be required. A breast lift can also be combined with a breast reduction or a nipple revision.

During a breast augmentation with a lift, the incision is often made around the areolae, or the pigmented skin surrounding your nipples. Excess skin is removed and the nipples are repositioned to create a higher, more youthful profile. Breast implants can be placed through these same incisions to add volume and fullness. A board certified plastic surgeon will evaluate your breasts to decide which approach will give you the most aesthetically pleasing results.