Innovation in breast-lift surgery provides long-term results

Posted on 2 December 2016

A pioneering internal bra procedure restores the youthful appearance of a woman’s breasts and ensures that she won’t have to wear a bra again.

Award-winning reconstructive and plastic surgeon Dr Peet van Deventer, who operates from Mediclinic Hermanus and Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt in Bellville, developed the Breform procedure with the aid of a local company. Breform is a unique permanent internal mesh system that has better results for cosmetic breast support in the long term. Since the inaugural operation in 2004, Dr Van Deventer has done more than 180 procedures.

How the breast-lift procedure works

Dr Van Deventer’s pioneering breast-lift procedure repurposes the gauze that has been used for more than 40 years in hernia repairs by using it to make a unique mesh ‘bra’ that is inserted under the skin. The gauze is biocompatible, meaning it won’t react negatively with a person’s own tissue. ‘I do the same surgical procedure used for a traditional breast lift, but in addition I attach the biocompatible gauze to the chest wall to support the breast,’ Dr Van Deventer explains.

Why is this procedure different?

Most breast-lift procedures rely on the skin to hold everything in place, but skin is stretchy which means that the initial problem – Cooper’s droop – will probably recur. Dr Van Deventer’s procedure ensures that drooping doesn’t recur.

There are other additional benefits too, and one of these is less noticeable scarring. ‘Scars are caused by tension, but with the internal mesh supporting the weight of the breast there’s less tension on the suture line (row of stitches), so the scars are both shorter and less conspicuous,’ Dr Van Deventer says.

He also notes that the amount of foreign material – the biocompatible gauze – inserted into the body is much less than the amount of silicone needed in breast augmentations.

And the procedure offers cosmetic benefits in reconstructive breast surgery too. ‘When one breast is reconstructed, it often ends up being “perkier” than the other breast, creating asymmetry,’ Dr Van Deventer explains. ‘If we use the mesh support in both breasts, they appear more symmetrical.’

Are there negatives?

‘The mesh and pain pump is more costly which means the patient would most likely be responsible for this shortfall,’ Dr Van Deventer says.

And speaking of pain, Dr Van Deventer says the procedure can be more painful than traditional breast-lift surgery, although of course the pain is well managed.

Are there risks? 

‘As with any surgery, there are risks,’ says Dr Van Deventer. ‘There may be temporary or permanent loss of sensation to the nipple, because nerves are sacrificed during the procedure.’

‘With this particular procedure, the surgeon must be properly acquainted with the blood supply of the breast to avoid jeopardising blood supply to the nipple. If the blood supply is affected, the nipple can die and the patient may end up losing the nipple.’ Dr Van Deventer is further recognised for his studies on the blood supply to the nipple which ensures this risk is minimal for his patients.

Very rarely, a patient may have a reaction to the biocompatible gauze, such as excessive formation of connective tissue (which sometimes happens following silicone procedures), but Dr Van Deventer says the potential complications and risks compare very well with those of traditional breast reduction and breast-lift procedures.

Who are ideal candidates for this kind of breast-lift surgery?

Post-childbearing women in good general health with poor-quality skin and enough breast tissue to support the elevation are ideal candidates, says Dr Van Deventer. ‘They must also have healthy breast tissue, clear of unusual risks of developing cysts, cancer or any other disease.’

Which candidates are not suitable for this procedure?

Women who want breast augmentation. ‘The operation doesn’t enlarge the breasts, but gives the illusion of a fuller breast,’ Dr Van Deventer explains. ‘If a patient wants larger breasts, the alternative would be enlargement with either silicone prostheses or fat grafting.’

Women with bleeding tendencies and women who are obese (a BMI of over 30) should also not be considered for this procedure.

Recovery time

‘The patient will experience discomfort for about two weeks, but this may last up to six weeks,’ says Dr Van Deventer. ‘Also, for the first six weeks, the patient will have to wear a bra with good support and not participate in any sport or strenuous physical activity.’

Published in Prime

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