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When you think of cosmetic breast enhancement surgery, implants are often the first procedure that comes to mind. Breast implants are typically used to increase breast size or improve shape and symmetry. Many plastic surgeons also use implants to restore volume to the upper portion of the breast when they perform a breast lift (mastopexy). The reason for this is that most breast lifts don’t hold their lift as much as the surgeon or the patient would like; as the breast begins to stretch out again, the upper portion of the breast once again becomes hollow.

For women who are happy with their current breast size, but simply want a restoration of a pleasing breast shape, the structural breast lift technique, as developed by Dr. Cook, can provide an excellent solution without the need for implants. The following is a guide from the Whole Beauty Institute’s founder and director, plastic surgeon Dr. John Q. Cook about the types of breast lifts and implants and how to tell which procedure might make the most sense for you.

Many surgeons routinely combine breast implants and a breast lift.

Standard practice for many surgeons is to use implants as part of the breast lift procedure. When your breasts start to sag due to factors like pregnancy, weight fluctuation or simply gravity and time, you may notice that most of your breast tissue settles at the bottom and leaves the top half of your breast hollow. To combat the imbalance, many surgeons will place an implant during a breast lift to restore volume to the upper portion of the breast. The result is an evenly-rounded breast with a perkier position.

Combining breast implants and a breast lift has some drawbacks.

A conventional breast lift essentially involves tightening the loose skin that has stretched and caused the breast to sag. What the procedure cannot do is restore the fundamental structure of your breast tissue, so many surgeons will place an implant to help restore shape as well as lift.

Although the result of a conventional breast lift and implant combination can be appealing initially, this comes with its own set of concerns. First, for women who are happy with the size of their breasts before their surgery, the addition of an implant can result in larger breasts than desired. Second, implants have consequences that the patient may not want to accept, including deflation, capsular contracture, or the need for replacement in the future. And third, for women whose breasts are particularly prone to ptosis, the weight of an implant in the upper half of the breast can lead to further drooping over time.

Try this simple test to see if you need implants along with your breast lift.

Examine the way your breasts look in an unpadded brassiere or swimsuit. If this amount of support gives you a fullness, size and shape that you are satisfied with, then a breast lift without an implant may be your best choice. If you feel as though your breasts look like they have enough volume, there usually is not a good reason to add more with an implant. These cases are where the structural breast lift often makes the most sense — with this technique, you can achieve a pleasing fullness in the upper portion of the breasts without the need to resort to implants.

A structural breast lift can give you all-natural fullness and shape.

A structural breast lift differs from a conventional lift because it uses your natural breast tissue to restore volume and fullness. During structural breast surgery, Dr. Cook is able to take natural breast tissue from the lower portion of the breast and tuck it under the rest of the breast, so that he can anchor it beneath the upper portion of the breast. The repositioned tissue rounds out the upper breast to create a natural breast augmentation — the beauty of the structural breast lift is that your new breasts are 100 percent yours. The repositioned breast tissue is anchored at several levels along the lower, middle and upper breast to diminish sagging in the future, which can occur in conventional lifts that rely on tightened skin alone to hold the lift in place. Another advantage of the structural technique is that there are no scars along the inner part of the fold under the breast, an area that may be revealed with certain styles of dresses and swim suits.

Results of Structural Breast Lift by John Q. Cook, M.D.

Two situations where implants are helpful

Dr. Cook has found two situations where breast implants are helpful to patients seeking a breast lift

For some patients with just a mild degree of drooping of the breasts (ptosis), breast implants alone will provide a mild lift and round out the breast very nicely.

Results of Implants to Provide Mild Lift by JQCMD

There are also patients whose breasts have settled and have also lost significant volume. For patients who desire a lifted breast with additional volume, the structural breast lift can be combined with breast implants.

Result of Structural Breast Lift with Implants by JQCMD

Choose from a wide range of breast surgeries at the Whole Beauty Institute.

The Whole Beauty Institute’s surgical team boasts a complete portfolio of advanced breast surgical techniques from augmentation to reconstruction, including structural breast lifts. Our experience includes over 20 years of surgery and several thousand breast procedures. We make it our goal to provide beautiful, natural results for all of our clients — we want your cosmetic surgery to enhance your appearance seamlessly, and we never want you to look or feel overdone. To learn more about our structural mastopexy techniques and how we can restore breast volume with your natural tissue, contact the Whole Beauty Institute of Chicago and Winnetka today at 312-751-2112 and schedule your consultation.