Matthew Stephenson

MBBS MSc FRCS (Gen Surg) 
Consultant General and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon

Cosmetic Breast
Surgery

Why is a breast cancer surgeon particularly well placed to perform Cosmetic Breast Surgery?

All cosmetic breast operations are performed by breast cancer surgeons. In fact it is through doing breast cancer surgery that surgeons learn how to do cosmetic surgery. This is because when a breast cancer has been operated on, the breast may become smaller than the unaffected breast, or if the breast is removed and reconstructed it often cannot match the other side. This makes the patient lopsided. For this reason cancer surgeons frequently need to perform operations to give the breasts symmetry again. This means operating on the non-cancer breast to either make it bigger, smaller or perter. The procedure performed to do this utilises exactly the same techniques as cosmetic surgery. Cancer symmetrisations however can in fact be much more difficult than cosmetic ones, as you are aiming to make the breasts as similar to the other as you can. Breast cancer surgeons performing regular oncoplastic breast surgery are particularly well placed to perform cosmetic breast surgery.

Mr Stephenson performs the full range of cosmetic procedures which principally are augmentation, reduction and lift. Some people wonder whether they should ask a plastic surgeon or general surgeon who is an oncoplastic breast surgeon to do their cosmetic surgery. The answer is – either as long as they’re competent! Remember that a plastic surgeon is a generalist of his own field too, which means he/she will also do many non-breast operations like abdominoplasties, face lifts etc. Don’t be misled into thinking that one is far more specialised than the other.

Breast Augmentation

Choosing to undergo surgery to enhance the shape of your breasts is a big decision and you will want to choose someone to do your surgery who will give you a fully customised approach depending on your aspirations and individual body shape.  Breast augmentation is the commonest cosmetic operation performed in the UK and USA, with more than 30,000 procedures performed each year in the UK (more than 300,000 per year in the USA!).  And it’s being done more and more.  There are many choices to be made including the size and shape of the implant, whether to place the implant behind the muscle or on top of it, where to place the scar and whether or not any adjustment needs to be made to the breast tissue itself (such as a breast lift). 

Breast augmentation can be life transforming for some women and every woman has their own reason for having it.  It is extremely satisfying as a surgeon, to see the positive effect such an operation can have on people’s lives.  Nevertheless, it is not a decision to be taken lightly and it’s important to fully understand all of the possible pitfalls as well as the plus sides.  All of these will be discussed exhaustively during a consultation.  

For the implants, Mr Stephenson uses a company called Mentor which are highly reputable market leaders. Their parent company is Johnson and Johnson.  He has never put in PIP implants but has revised many breast implants which were put in elsewhere.

Breast Reduction

Many women are dissatisfied with the size of their breasts when they feel they are too large or heavy which can cause considerable discomfort, sometimes psychological distress or even just trouble finding appropriately fitting clothes. A breast reduction operation can be transformative for such women. It is nevertheless a big step to take and it’s important to consider all of your options and what the potential pitfalls are too. All of these would be discussed exhaustively during a consultation.

It’s important to choose a surgeon who can tailor an operation to specifically suit you, and therefore has a range of reduction operations rather than just a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Probably the commonest and best known type of reduction operation is the Wise pattern operation which results in an anchor shaped scar. This can be very good especially if there is a lot of breast tissue to be removed. However there are several other operations with less scarring such as the vertical reduction mammoplasty for more modest reductions.

Breast Lift

Many women find that the breasts can droop considerably, especially with age and after breast feeding.  Some women’s breasts simply develop this way in the first place.  Achieving a more rejuvenated shape is possible using a variety of surgical techniques, sometimes also reducing the breast volume if desired.

Gynaecomastia (Men Only)

Excess breast development in the male can be very distressing. In the first instance it’s important to rule out any medical cause for this that might be reversible. When this is not possible however, some men seek a surgical solution to restore a more male appearing chest wall. There are a number of techniques to achieve this.

Breast Lift

Many women find that the breasts can droop considerably, especially with age and after breast feeding.  Some women’s breasts simply develop this way in the first place.  Achieving a more rejuvenated shape is possible using a variety of surgical techniques, sometimes also reducing the breast volume if desired.

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