Laser-Assisted Breast Reduction has Los Angeles Surgeons Dropping Their Scalpels

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The head of a Los Angeles area plastic surgery practice and his research team confirm that use of a laser to prepare breast tissue during breast reduction not only is safe, but also offers advantages when compared to traditional methods.

As everyone knows, breast augmentation surgery is in high demand in Southern California, but some may be surprised to learn that breast reduction remains a popular procedure in the area as well. In fact, reducing breast size can have an even greater impact in a woman's life, giving her relief from upper body pain, freedom to exercise without discomfort, and heightened self image.

Many doctors who perform breast reductions seek innovative techniques to improve patient outcomes. A new study, headed by Dr. Grant Stevens, Medical Director of Marina Plastic Surgery in Southern California, finds that a carbon dioxide laser can successfully replace scalpels or scissors used during portions of the procedure, and in many cases will offer additional benefits over these traditional tools.

"After thorough review, the study team was able to conclude that the laser-assisted procedure studied is a safe and effective alternative to classic breast reduction techniques," remarked Dr. Stevens.

The study examined use of a laser during only part of the surgical procedure. When performing a breast reduction, some of the excess skin that remains must be prepared in a way that will allow it to grow together with adjacent skin around the surgical area. This preparation process is called "deepithelialization," and was traditionally performed by scraping the top layers of skin with a scalpel or scissor. While this method is sound and has proven practical, it can result in inconsistent preparation of the skin, lengthening recovery times and raising the potential for complications. Instead, use of a continuous mode carbon dioxide laser, which produces a solid laser beam that can be drawn across the skin like a pen, allows continuous and accurate deepithelialization of the treatment area.

The study, recently published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, found that laser-assisted surgery shortens the time it takes to complete the deepithelialization process, leads to consistent preparation of the deepitheialized skin, and results in less blood loss than traditional methods. In addition, the laser technique does not require tight stretching of breast tissue, which can make surgery more difficult for those patients whose breasts have poor elasticity. Preoperative brassiere cup size for studied patients ranged from 34C to 38K, with the most common size being DD.

The study, the largest of its kind to date, reviewed 367 consecutive laser-assisted breast reduction procedures performed over a 10-year period. Complications assessed as part of the study included incidence of hematoma and infection, breakdown of incision sites, and need for blood transfusion. The study group observed an overall complication rate of 11%, compared to rates ranging from 10% to 43% in prior studies of surgeries using traditional methods.

"Complication rates for the series of patients who underwent laser-assisted breast reduction surgery were consistent with those reported for non-laser-assisted procedures," said Dr. Stevens. "These results, combined with the benefits and efficient operating time afforded by laser deepithelialization, indicate that laser-assisted surgery is an excellent alternative to standard methods."

For more information on the study, contact Dr. Grant Stevens at Marina Plastic Surgery. Call (866) 588-7507 or visit http://www.losangelesbreastreduction.com.

Dr. Grant Stevens is a California board-certified plastic surgeon and the Medical Director of Marina Plastic Surgery Associates in Marina del Rey and Palos Verdes. He specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery and has been named one of America's Best Physicians by his colleagues in The Guide to Top Doctors. He is an active member at Centinella-Freeman Marina Hospital where he is the past Chairman of the Department of Surgery, the past Chairman of the Liposuction Committee, and the past co-director of the Breast Center. He is also on staff at St. John's Medical Center and the Marina Outpatient Surgery Center. Dr. Stevens is an Associate Clinical Professor at the USC Medical School and Director of the American Society of Aesthetic Surgery-approved Marina Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship.

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