New breast lift techniques such as the internal bra are said to last longer and even out-perform traditional surgical methods.
For women, one of the most unfortunate side effects of aging is the inevitable breast sag. Cooper’s ligaments — the connective tissues within the breast that help to maintain structural integrity — stretch and lose their elasticity over time. And because breasts are made up of a combination of glands, connective tissue, fat and milk ducts, they have no natural internal support.
In recent years breast lift procedures have surged in popularity, growing by 70 percent since 2000, to the point where they are now performed twice as often as breast implant surgery. Thus it should be no surprise to learn that some of the world’s top surgeons and researchers have begun to refine and improve upon their techniques.
One of the latest advancements is the internal bra, a bio-compatible mesh used in conjunction with traditional mastopexy surgery to give the breasts additional support and further delay the effects of aging and gravity.
How Does Surgical Scaffolding Work?
The polymer is produced through a biological fermentation process to ensure that it can be used internally, and woven following a special knit pattern. Much like absorbable sutures, it is meant to produce only a minimal inflammatory response and naturally degrade over time, prompting the body’s own ability to grow connective tissue around it.
While this technique offers a rather novel approach to breast lift, implant revision, and reconstructive procedures, surgical scaffolding is frequently used for other applications as well. For instance, surgeons will use bio-compatible mesh as reinforcement material when repairing hernias and other fascial defects in the abdominal wall.
Interestingly, GalaFLEX and other mesh lift materials are not new to the plastic surgery world. Internal bras made of silk or synthetics have also been marketed, with varying degrees of success.
Surgical scaffolds are made of materials that are not dissoluble — meaning they stay in the body forever — can cause a wide variety of issues over time, including tissue erosion and inflammation. GalaFLEX fully degrades in a maximum of 24 months, leaving behind only carbon dioxide and water.
Another popular internal mesh bra, the Seri Surgical Silk, promises similar results to GalaFLEX. Seri Silk is made of silk-derived fibroin, produced by the silkworm, and claims to encourage full, native tissue growth within 24 months. Strattice Reconstructive Tissue Matrix, created from pig skin, is also used in breast lifts as well as hernia tissue repair.
How Is Internal Bra Surgery Performed?
During the procedure, a plastic surgeon will insert the cup-shaped mesh material into the lower part of the breast, and then suspend it to the chest wall (near the breastbone) to provide a natural sling that lifts the breasts. This provides enhanced support in areas of the breast where the tissue has become weak or lost elasticity.
Much like a standard breast lift, the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Surgery lasts approximately two or three hours.
Over time the material gradually breaks down and dissolves, and is eventually replaced by the body’s own scar tissue. This new tissue is up to three times stronger than the body’s natural tissue, providing long-term results that outlast many other breast implant procedures and lifts.
Recovery time is similar to what one might expect following a regular breast lift. However, extra precautions must be taken to avoid moving or stretching the material. Patients are therefore required to limit their activity levels, and may also be instructed to wear a surgical bra and other compression garments.
Risks and Side Effects
When compared to traditional mastopexy, the GalaFLEX internal bra’s main drawbacks are that surgery takes longer to perform, and there is a greater risk of complications during recovery. This is especially the case when the procedure is combined with other techniques such as symmastia repair, breast augmentation, and reconstructive surgery.
According to GalaFLEX, there are a few important safety considerations that should be addressed before you undergo the GalaFLEX procedure. Any treatment that uses this mesh, whether it be a breast lift or another form of fascia repair, comes with the risk of infection, seroma, pain, scaffold migration, wound dehiscence, bleeding, hematoma, and inflammation.
Furthermore, when compared to regular breast lifts, patients report more initial pain with this method. Despite these risks, GalaFLEX Scaffold is considered and has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to standard breast lift surgeries, GalaFLEX is regularly used by breast augmentation patients who wish to increase the size of their breasts by several cup sizes without overstretching the skin. It is also used during breast reduction and reconstructive surgery.
To be considered a good candidate for a GalaFLEX breast lift, you must be in overall good health and able to handle a relatively lengthy recovery time. A board-certified plastic surgeon will be able to determine whether or not this procedure is safe for you.
How Much Does It Cost?
Regular breast lifts are typically priced between $6,000 and $9,000. The GalaFLEX mesh element adds approximately $1,000 to that average. In some instances health insurance may cover the procedure, especially if it performed as part of a reconstructive surgery following mastectomy or injury.
When the internal bra lift is performed for cosmetic purposes, patients are generally required to pay entirely out of pocket. Of course, the cost of your lift will vary widely based on the area where you live, the extent of your procedure, and your surgeon’s experience.