Caution: the “scarless” suture suspension breast lift

Every few years, there seems to be a return of an old concept that didn’t work the first time around: trying to lift a droopy (ptotic) breast with internal sutures. This was first developed around 2001 by the Bulgarian cosmetic surgeon Serdev, who applied internal suture lifting techniques to almost every part of the body with fairly limited success. After a brief flurry of interest, we thought it went the way of the dinosaur…

The idea sounds so appealing: put in a couple of sutures to lift or tighten an area, and voila! It promises very limited incisions and scars, and can be done under local anesthesia. Ads trumpet “instant results”…. Sounds too good to be true, right?

The problem with suture suspension lifts in general is that the results don’t last. In the face, research has shown that suspension suture techniques last maybe a year at best when applied in the face. In the breast, there is very limited research (i.e. nothing published in reputable plastic surgeon journals!) showing that the technique even works at all in the breast, even if you anchor the sutures to a fixed point like the clavicle. You can’t reasonably expect one suture to hold up an entire breast – as the weight of the breast causes the suture to cut through the tissue, like a wire cutting though a block of cheese, a little at a time, until the lifting effect is gone. Internal scarring and odd distortions of the skin are other side effects that occur with this method.

So, dear readers, this technique of the suture lift is highly “experimental”. Although some surgeons locally do perform it, I can not recommend it at this time. If you decide to have this done, make sure it is under the auspices of a properly-run, IRB-approved medical study.

There is, however, another method of making the breast look better with virtually no scars: fat grafting. But that’s a story for another time…

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