Laser Fluorescent Imaging of Nipple and Areola During Breast Lift

Swanson Center (Other)
Overall Status
Completed ID

Study Details

Study Description

Brief Summary

Breast lift surgery performed in combination with breast implants is a common cosmetic operation. However, there have been concerns regarding the safety of this treatment combination. Some investigators are concerned that an implant may increase the risk of complications, including loss of circulation to the nipple and areola. This study was undertaken to evaluate the blood supply of the breast using intraoperative laser fluorescent imaging and to determine whether a breast implant compromises blood supply to the nipple and areola.

Condition or Disease Intervention/Treatment Phase
  • Procedure: Vertical breast lift with implants

Detailed Description


Laser Fluorescent Imaging of Breasts During Vertical Breast Lifts and Reductions Performed in Combination with Breast Implants.


Today, breast lifts are a common operation. Implants may be recommended to provide greater fullness of the upper poles of the breasts. One of the risks of surgery is compromised circulation to the nipples and areolae. Some investigators believe that the simultaneous insertion of breast implants adds to the risk by causing pressure on the overlying breast tissue and skin.1 Staging the procedure (first the breast lift and then implants or vice versa) has been recommended, but staging is inconvenient and costly for patients, necessitating two operations. Clinical experience with the newer vertical breast lift technique, as opposed to the traditional inferior pedicle technique, has been favorable, with few reported complications.2 The vertical technique uses a shorter, more superficial pedicle than the traditional inferior pedicle, with a more reliable blood supply.2 A breast lift and reduction are essentially the same operation; more breast tissue is removed during a reduction but the dissection is the same.

This study was undertaken to investigate the blood supply to the nipples and areolae during the combined breast lift/reduction and implants procedure. Laser fluorescent imaging represents an objective measurement technique that has been used for several years to monitor the vascularity of flaps used in breast reconstruction.


Fifteen consecutive consenting adult women undergoing outpatient elective breast lifts or reductions in combination with breast implants will be investigated. By testing the blood supply at two time points, the patient serves as her own control.


The SPY Elite Intraoperative Perfusion Assessment System (Lifecell Corp., Branchburg, NJ) consists of a near-infrared laser that detects fluorescence. The imaging agent, indocyanine green, is absorbed at 800-810 nm. The imaging agent is injected intravenously. Starting within 5-10 seconds of injection, the system records images of the breasts, showing the fluorescence, which indicates blood supply. The half-life of the imaging agent is 2.5-3 minutes.


The implants are inserted and the breast lift/reduction procedure is performed on both sides using the vertical technique.2 The implants are not inflated. The filling tubes are left in place. At this point, 3 mL (7.5 mg) of indocyanine green is injected and the image is recorded, documenting blood supply to both breasts. Next, the implants are inflated using the filling tubes. After inflation of the implants, the breasts are reimaged, with the filling tubes still in place. Once adequate circulation is demonstrated, the filling tubes are removed. In the unlikely event that inadequate circulation is found during imaging, the implant volume may be reduced accordingly, and a third image taken to confirm adequate circulation to the nipples.

Null Hypothesis

A breast lift or reduction performed using the vertical technique in combination with insertion of breast implants does not compromise circulation to the nipples and areolae and may be safely performed simultaneously, avoiding a need for staged surgery.

Informed Consent

Patients are informed as to the nature of the study and are told that their participation is entirely voluntary and they are free to decline, and that doing so does not in any way prejudice their treatment. Patients are informed of the small risk of an allergic reaction that will be treated if it occurs.

Patient Risk

There is no patient risk apart from a very small risk of allergic reaction, which is further reduced by excluding any patient with a known allergy to iodinated contrast dye. The study does not affect patient treatment. It offers the possibility of detection of reduced skin circulation, information that can be used by the surgeon to limit implant volume, or forego their simultaneous insertion if necessary and reduce the risk of tissue loss and delayed wound healing, known complications of breast lifts and reductions.

Sample Size

A sample of 15 patients is anticipated, treated over a period of approximately 5 months.


The author has no financial interest in any of the products, devices, or drugs mentioned in this article. The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose. There was no outside funding for this study.

Study Design

Study Type:
Actual Enrollment :
15 participants
Observational Model:
Time Perspective:
Official Title:
Laser Fluorescent Imaging of Nipple and Areola During Breast Lift in Combination With Breast Implants
Study Start Date :
Jul 1, 2014
Actual Primary Completion Date :
Nov 1, 2014
Actual Study Completion Date :
Nov 1, 2014

Arms and Interventions

Arm Intervention/Treatment
Breast lift in combination with implants.

Patients undergoing breast lifts in combination with implants are studied using laser fluorescent imaging to evaluate blood supply.

Procedure: Vertical breast lift with implants

Outcome Measures

Primary Outcome Measures

  1. Blood supply to breast as evaluated by laser fluorescent imaging [5 months]

    Laser fluorescent imaging is used to evaluate breast blood supply.

Eligibility Criteria


Ages Eligible for Study:
18 Years to 80 Years
Sexes Eligible for Study:
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
Inclusion Criteria:
  • Women aged 18 - 80

  • Consent for participation

Exclusion Criteria:
  • history of allergy to iodinated contrast dye -

Contacts and Locations


Site City State Country Postal Code
1 Swanson Center Leawood Kansas United States 66211

Sponsors and Collaborators

  • Swanson Center


  • Principal Investigator: Eric Swanson, M.D., Swanson Center

Study Documents (Full-Text)

None provided.

More Information


Responsible Party:
Eric Swanson, M.D., Principal Investigator, Swanson Center Identifier:
Other Study ID Numbers:
  • Swanson 004
First Posted:
Jul 28, 2014
Last Update Posted:
Nov 20, 2014
Last Verified:
Nov 1, 2014
Keywords provided by Eric Swanson, M.D., Principal Investigator, Swanson Center
Additional relevant MeSH terms:

Study Results

No Results Posted as of Nov 20, 2014