Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery of the Breast

Understanding the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery

Just because the name includes the word ‘plastic’ doesn’t mean patients who have this surgery end up with a face full of fake stuff. The name isn’t taken from the synthetic substance but from the Greek word ‘plastikos’, which means to form or mould (and which gives the material plastic its name as well).

Plastic surgery is a special type of surgery that can involve altering both a person’s appearance and ability to function. Plastic surgeons strive to improve patients’ appearance and self-image through both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures.

Reconstructive procedures

Reconstructive procedures correct defects on the face or body. These include physical birth defects like cleft lips and palates and ear deformities, traumatic injuries like those from dog bites or burns, or the aftermath of disease treatments like rebuilding a woman’s breast after surgery for breast cancer.

Cosmetic procedures 

Cosmetic (also called aesthetic) procedures alter a part of the body that the person is not satisfied with. Common cosmetic procedures include making the breasts larger (technically known as augmentation mammoplasty) or smaller (technically known as reduction mammoplasty), reshaping the nose (technically known as rhinoplasty), and removing pockets of fat from specific spots on the body (technically known as liposuction).

Some cosmetic procedures aren’t even surgical in the way that most people think of surgery – that is, cutting and stitching. For example, the use of special lasers to remove unwanted hair or to smooth the skin to improve severe scarring are two such treatments, these are often referred to as non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

What is plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery of the breast?

Plastic surgery of the breast is one of the most popular areas of cosmetic plastic surgery. Last year, according to the annual audit of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), over 10,000 breast procedures were carried out. This represents only a fraction of the true amount of surgical breast procedures carried out in the United Kingdom, as not all plastic and cosmetic surgeons working in the UK are registered members of the BAAPS, so the figure is estimated to be more than triple.

Plastic surgery of the breast includes several different breast surgery procedures. 

These include:

  • Breast enlargement, technically referred to as ‘breast augmentation’ which is usually accomplished with breast implants.
  • Breast lift (technically referred to as ‘mastopexy’) which is a procedure that is often performed simultaneously with a breast augmentation.

In addition to these purely cosmetic procedures, there is also:

  • Breast reduction (technically described as a ‘reduction mammoplasty’) which is an enhancement surgery that potentially offers both health and cosmetic benefits.
  • Breast reconstruction is often another breast surgery procedure required after breast mastectomy.