My Reconstructed Breasts Jump When I Flex my Muscles, Now What?
Muscle flex deformity, sometimes known as jumping breast deformity, is a problem commonly seen after breast reconstruction with implants. In the medical world, this problem is known as animation deformity because the reconstructed breasts move or animate when the arm and chest muscles are flexed.
The cause for this movement is well-understood, and the good news is that recent advances in breast reconstruction techniques have made it possible to fix this problem in most cases!
Why does animation deformity happen?
Traditionally, tissue expanders and implants have been placed either entirely or partially under the chest (pectoralis) muscle. While this technique provides a nice layer of soft tissue over the implant, it uses a very jumpy muscle to do so. Therefore, whenever the muscle flexes, it can pull the underlying implant up with it, causing the sometimes obvious jumping motion known as animation deformity.
Can muscle flex deformity be fixed?
Recent advances in how we reconstruct breasts has made it possible to redo or fix existing implant reconstructions to almost totally correct the problem!
The idea behind the fix is simple: the existing implant is removed, the chest or pectoralis muscle is then set back over the ribcage where it used to be, and the new reconstruction is placed ON TOP OF THE MUSCLE.
The new reconstruction can be done either with a new implant or, in some cases, it can be replaced with natural tissue from another part of the body:
- Prepectoral implant breast reconstruction – When the new reconstruction is done using an implant placed in front of the pectoralis muscle, it is called a prepectoral breast reconstruction. This technique is often done with the addition of a biologic mesh, such as AlloMend, to help keep the implant in a good position by providing an additional layer of support between the implant and the overlying skin. Click here to learn more about prepectoral breast reconstruction.
- Prepectoral natural tissue breast reconstruction – The most common place to borrow tissue for natural breast reconstruction is the lower belly or abdominal region. This procedure is known as a DIEP flap, and it involves microsurgical techniques to move the tissue and leaves a tummy tuck-like scar on the belly. More information on the DIEP flap is available here.
Get The Result You Deserve
We are seeing more and more patients who have had previous breast reconstruction with implants who now have complaints of animation deformity and other issues including painful implants, capsular contracture or encapsulation with scar tissue, and implant cold intolerance to name a few. Fortunately, the advances in breast reconstruction described above make it possible to improve these issues in most cases.
This revision or redo reconstruction procedure is often covered by most insurance plans, making it even more feasible for patients to pursue a reconstructive result that they deserve.
About Ergun Kocak, MD
Dr. Ergun Kocak is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Ohio. He went on to serve plastic surgery residencies at Ohio State University Hospital before he co-founded Midwest Breast & Aesthetic Surgery.