Men and women seek out plastic surgery for all sorts of reasons. Some may be interested in correcting structural abnormalities caused by traumatic injury or birth defect through the use of reconstructive plastic surgery, while others may simply seek subtle facial rejuvenation or body contouring procedures. However, despite the fact that every patient has their own individual goals and requirements, one specific issue seems to come up again and again: ptosis. Although it originally referred to a drooping of the upper eyelid due to paralysis, disease, or congenital condition, use of the term ptosis has grown over the years to include the natural sagging of any part of the body, and is frequently used to refer to the breasts as well as the eyelids. Regardless of what part of the body it affects, ptosis has the same basic underlying cause and similar methods for treatment.
The skin and tissues of the body are naturally elastic. In other words, they are able to stretch and then rebound back to their original position. However, just like any form of elastic fabric, the more skin and tissues are stretched, the less elastic and more “stretched-out” they become. This natural aging process occurs not only because the stretching puts a great deal of stress on the skin, but also because the production of collagen and elastin, two connective proteins that help give the skin its elasticity, slows down as the body gets older. The ultimate result is that the skin, muscles, and connective tissues throughout the body gradually loose the resilience and flexibility, causing them to sag and wrinkle. In the face, this causes many of the classic signs of facial aging, such as forehead lines, crows’ feet, sagging jowls, or heavy eyelids. Elsewhere in the body, the same phenomenon can result in hanging skin underneath the arms (“bat wings”) and, most notably, sagging breasts.
Since ptosis is a long-term, gradual process, one the best ways to treat it is to catch it early and slow its progression. In the face, this is often done with injectable Botox® treatments. By temporarily relaxing selected facial muscles, Botox® prevents some of the constant facial movements that cause aging skin to wrinkle and crease. In the delicate, paper-thin skin of the eyelids, which is particularly prone to ptosis, a blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, can help by removing tiny amounts of excess skin, restoring firmness and giving the eyes a more youthful appearance. Finally, fat transfer techniques, used in combination with traditional or mini-facelift procedures, or cosmetic injectable treatments can help restore volume to the facial features and counteract some of the sagging that can occur.
When ptosis affects the larger areas of the body it is usually addressed with a specifically targeted body contouring procedure that removes small amounts of excess, sagging skin. Sagging of the breasts, for example, usually requires a breast lift, or mastopexy. Sagging skin under the arms is treated with a brachioplasty, and loose skin around the lower abdomen, might be treated with an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. It is important, however, to stress that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” plastic surgery procedure, and a comprehensive consultation with one of our board certified plastic surgeons will be needed to determine the best approach for you. If you would like to learn more about any of the various plastic surgery and facial rejuvenation procedures that we perform, please contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. at one of our Atlanta, Alpharetta, Canton or Cumming offices to schedule a consultation. Don’t forget to follow us on social media to get all the latest plastic surgery news and updates.