Watch CBS News

Health Watch: Reconstructive Breast Surgery

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Breast surgery is the most common type of plastic and reconstructive surgery in this country, but while the results can be excellent, they don't last forever. CBS 2HD's Dr. Max Gomez reports there's a new technique that uses the patient's own tissue to create an internal bra.

When it comes to aging, gravity is not your friend. Add in multiple pregnancies, weight gain and loss, and skin that stretches and women are often faced with breasts that have lost their shape.

"Over time, multiple pregnancies and gravity they're going to head south," said Jaqueline Doglio, breast lift patient.

That meant Doglio did not like the way her breasts looked, no matter what she tried. "Bras can only do half the work and as we get older," she said. "It's harder and harder to lift them and the bra can't do all the work."

That meant her only real option was a breast lift, a procedure done, sometimes with a breast reduction, about 180,000 times a year in this country.

While surgery restores a youthful looking breast, there's a drawback. "When they look back two years, five years later, they look back to the way they were when they underwent the primary surgery," said Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh of the Long Island Plastic Surgery Group.

Attempts to make breast lift surgery longer lasting include implanting a synthetic mesh or even cadaver or pig skin in the breast to hold it up. "The problem is if you have an infection with a foreign body in place that really causes havoc on the breast tissue," Alizadeh said.

So the plastic surgeon devised a way to use the patients own skin as a sort of internal bra.

With a lift or reduction there's always excess skin. Dr. Alizadeh leaves some of that skin attached to its blood supply and is then attached to the ribs, forming a kind of natural sling or internal bra that maintians the new breast shape. He's followed 100 patients for up to six years.

"Up to this point the majority of the patients have done very well. They've been able to maintain the shape and projection," he said.

After Jessica Clifford was pregnant with twins, her breasts never shrunk back. At 5'5" her FF breasts were causing neck, back and nerve pain. She's now ten weeks after the internal bra procedure.

"Perky, youthful, a good managable size and really healthy looking and I'm happy and they make me feel good," she said.

The cost for this procedure runs about $11,000 , including operating room and anesthesia. That may be covered by insurance in the case of a medically-necessary breast reduction but usually not if it's a straight breast lift.

So you can see why a lasting result is important when you're spending that kind of money.

As for that internal sling of skin? It develops it's own blood supply and gets incorporated into the supporting tissue of the breast. And because its the patients own skin, there's no risk for rejection and it doesn't interfere with mammograms and breast cancer detection.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.