According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), nearly 300,000 patients underwent a breast augmentation in 2010, making it the most popular surgical procedure performed last year. However, another procedure is rising in popularity in terms of the breast area: breast reductions. New techniques are now available to make breast reductions cosmetically attractive with minimal scarring and impact on the breast itself, other than the obvious lifting and reduction.
"Breast reduction patients are among the happiest patients in my practice and there are many compelling reasons why that is the case," describes Marina Del Rey board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Grant Stevens, "They are relieved of the extra weight from over-large breast so their back, neck and arms are pain free. Patients who undergo breast reductions can now wear clothes they could never wear before, they look like they've lost weight and their bodies look more symmetrical."
As a specialist in breast reduction in his practice at Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, Dr. Stevens has developed an innovative new laser assisted breast reduction procedure, the Laser Bra procedure which gives patients improved results which are far advanced than those from the traditional breast reduction. "Historically, breast reductions have not been as good as they could be," says Dr. Stevens, "Partially because they were considered a reconstructive event rather than a cosmetic procedure. Clearly, they are reconstructive surgeries but it is my conviction that breast reductions can be done not only for reconstruction but in a beautiful and cosmetically appealing way."
Over the past 25 years, Dr. Stevens has worked on creating a breast reduction that not only reconstructs the breast, the results are aesthetically pleasing with minimal scarring and better functionality. His work eventually led him to the creation of the the Laser Bra procedure, a true game changer in the field of breast reduction.
While there are several different methods of breast reduction, traditionally, a free nipple graft is used to reposition the nipple which requires sutures outside of the skin or even staples. During a 4-5 hour long procedure in which tubing is inserted for draining purposes, up to a unit of blood may be needed for transfusion purposes. Due to the invasive nature of the procedure, many patients were hospitalized after the traditional breast augmentation procedure.
Unlike traditional methods of breast augmentation, The Laser Bra does not require draining so there is no painful drain removal. Furthermore, there are no sutures that need to be removed which means no scarring from sutures. All the stitches are internal and dissolve within so no painful followup is necessary to remove external stitches. Dr. Stevens says, "My goal is to a have a scar-free surgery - we're not quite there yet but we have greatly minimized scarring. With the Laser Bra, there are no stitch marks or cross hatches."
The Laser Bra also does not require free nipple grafting. Dr. Stevens points out that he has performed several hundred breast reduction cases in the past 15 years and he has yet to remove the nipple. By keeping the nipples attached and not repositioning them, one important benefit is the ability to breast-feed. "I am happy to say we have not had one single patient who has become pregnant after the Laser Bra that hasn't been able to breast feed."
The namesake of the procedure, The Laser Bra is performed in combination with a carbon dioxide CO2 laser which greatly reduces blood loss. According to Dr. Stevens, "The laser actually allows me to vaporize the outer skin, the epidermis and the superficial dermis to the deep dermis where the blood supply is, which then makes the procedure bloodless." The remaining part of the procedure is completed depending on what type of pedicle is chosen and then the breast tissue is secured to the chest wall to offer lift to the breast as well as reduction.
As opposed to the 4-5 hours of traditional breast reduction, the Laser Bra can be performed in approximately 2 hours. Patients are kept in the recovery room for half an hour post procedure, discharged and sent home. During the follow-up the next day, the dressing is changed. Patients can return to light activities within 1-2 days with mild to moderate pain that is easily controlled with over the counter pain medication. Prescription pain medication is available but many patients don't need it.
"The Laser Bra is a laser-assisted breast reduction outpatient procedure that is efficient with minimal blood loss and requires less downtime," states Dr. Stevens, "The healed breast reductions are beautiful with minimal scarring and they have a beautiful shape and maintain function as they can still produce milk successfully."