Seattle Plastic Surgery Center

Obese Patients have Higher Risk of Breast Surgery Complications

breast surgery complicationsA new study has found that obese patients are almost 12 times more likely to suffer from breast surgery complications compared to non-obese patients. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed insurance claims of 2,403 obese patients and 5,597 normal weight patients who had breast procedures, including breast lifts, breast reductions and breast augmentations, between 2002 and 2006. It’s estimated that 34 percent of adults in the United States are obese. Just over 18 percent of the obese group had at least one complication within 30 days of surgery, compared to only 2.2 percent of non-obese patients. It also found that obese patients were 22 times more likely to have inflammation; 13 times more likely to develop infection; and 11 times more likely to experience pain. Breast reduction was the most common procedure for patients in the study, accounting for 80.7% of surgeries in the obese group and 63.8% in the non-obese group. Next was breast reconstruction, followed by breast augmentation and breast lift. Individual breast procedures all had higher complication rates for obese patients, and complications were most common with breast augmentation among obese patients, with half of obese patients experiencing complications. Complication rates for each breast surgery were as follows:
  • Breast augmentation – 50.5% among obese and 4.4% among non-obese
  • Breast lift – 24.1% among obese and 11.4% among non-obese
  • Breast lift with augmentation – 38.9% among obese and 5.6% among non-obese
  • Breast reconstruction – 29.4% among obese and 1.8% among non-obese
  • Breast reduction – 14.6% among obese and 1.7% among non-obese
Based on their findings, the researchers recommended that patients should be informed about the risk of obesity prior to breast surgery procedures. Other ways plastic surgeons may have patients prepare for breast surgery include getting a baseline mammogram before surgery; not smoking in advance of the surgery; and avoiding certain anti-inflammatory drugs that could increase bleeding.