Breast surgery is defined as any medical procedure that penetrates beyond the surface of breast skin. Breast surgery ranges from procedures as limited as a needle biopsy, to something as complex as microsurgical post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
Breast surgery can be defined in two broad categories:
- Procedures to diagnose and treat breast disease including cancer and benign cysts, tumors, and growths.
- Procedures to change the appearance of a breast, including restoring the absence of a breast, increase or decrease in breast size, or revision of breast shape and position.
Recently, however, a third category of breast surgery has emerged: surgery to prevent breast disease. While prophylactic bilateral mastectomy has been elected as early as the 1980s to significantly reduce a woman’s chances for developing breast cancer, it only recently has become an accepted practice in the prevention of breast disease in women who are carriers of the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Studies show that there is a 90% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer among these women. However, recent studies have demonstrated that even women who are not carriers of the breast cancer gene can, in fact, reduce their chances of developing breast cancer. In a study published in the June 2004 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, women with overly large breasts and without the presence of certain genetic factors relative to breast cancer who underwent breast reduction were found to have a reported 50% to 70% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer. (These two examples are discussed in depth in Questions 48 and 72, respectively.)
Beyond the categories of breast surgery to either treat disease or change appearance, breast surgery can also be defined by medical specialty:
- General breast surgery: to diagnose and treat breast disease through the removal of the entire breast, or only of diseased tissue, tumors, or cysts.
- Plastic surgery of the breast: any surgical procedure that changes or restores the appearance of the breast, including those procedures to treat and prevent breast disease that result in the change of breast appearance.
Although plastic surgery can change the appearance of the breast in many different ways, based on the many different cases that present, the goal for plastic surgery of the breast is always to restore or retain a normal appearance. In some cases, a more normal appearance simply means bringing balance to a womans figure. In others it requires complete reconstruction of a breast and surgery to alter the appearance of the opposite breast to match the size and position of the breast that is reconstructed.
Plastic surgery of the breast can change breast appearance by:
- Making large breasts smaller (breast reduction) ¢ Making small breasts larger (breast augmentation)
- Restoring the appearance of a sagging, flat breast (breast lift)
- Restoring the appearance of a breast disfigured or removed by disease (breast reconstruction) ¢ Restoring symmetry to the appearance of the breasts following surgery to treat disease or reconstruct a breast (all of the above)
- Restoring a more normal appearance to breast anomalies or congenital (from birth) and developmental deformities: misshapen or tubular breasts, breasts that develop disproportionately, and correction of rare conditions such as the presence of more than one nipple on the breast
- Treating breast disease while preserving the most normal appearance of the breast; this includes the removal of cysts and tumors, breast conserving surgery, skin sparring mastectomy, and mastectomy
There are numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding this type of surgery that can lead to confusion and apprehension for those considering it. In this article, we will address common concerns and debunk myths about breast surgery to provide accurate information and a better understanding of the procedures involved.
Myth #1: Breast Surgery is Only for Cosmetic Reasons:
One of the most prevalent myths about breast surgery is that it is solely for cosmetic purposes. While many breast surgeries, such as breast augmentation or breast lift, are performed to enhance the appearance of the breasts, there are various medical reasons for breast surgery as well. Breast reduction surgery, for example, is often done to alleviate physical discomfort and health issues caused by excessively large breasts, such as back and shoulder pain or skin irritation.
Myth #2: Breast Implants are Always Obvious and Unnatural-Looking:
Advancements in medical technology and surgical techniques have significantly improved the results of breast augmentation surgeries. Today, breast implants come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, allowing for more natural-looking outcomes. Skilled plastic surgeons can tailor the procedures to each patient’s body type and desired outcome, creating results that look and feel natural.
Myth #3: Breast Surgery is Risky and Unsafe
As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks associated with breast surgery. However, breast surgery is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon in a reputable medical facility. Preoperative evaluations and consultations help ensure that patients are suitable candidates for the surgery and that any potential risks are minimized.
Myth #4: Breast Surgery Always Results in Scarring:
While it’s true that breast surgery involves incisions, modern surgical techniques aim to minimize scarring. Surgeons strategically place incisions in inconspicuous areas, and some procedures, like endoscopic breast augmentation, involve smaller incisions, leading to less visible scarring. Additionally, proper wound care and postoperative scar treatments can further improve the appearance of scars over time.
Myth #5: Breast Surgery is Only for Women:
Breast surgery is not exclusive to women. Men may also undergo breast surgery to address medical conditions like gynecomastia, a condition characterized by the enlargement of male breast tissue. Male breast reduction surgery can help men achieve a more masculine chest contour.
Debunking myths and misconceptions about breast surgery is essential for providing accurate information to those considering these procedures. Breast surgery encompasses various cosmetic and medical reasons, and with the expertise of Mr. Andrew Pieri, advancements in technology and surgical techniques have significantly improved outcomes. When performed by qualified and experienced plastic surgeons in reputable facilities, breast surgery can be a safe and effective option for achieving desired results. By understanding the realities of breast surgery, individuals can make informed decisions and feel more confident in pursuing their aesthetic or medical goals.