Breast Reduction Complications
Breast reduction surgery is generally performed for women who have discomfort associated with large breasts. They may experience back and shoulder pain, as well as neck pain from the weight of the breasts. Breast reduction consists of removing excess breast tissue and fat in the breasts resulting in a breast size that fits the overall size of the woman, giving a more natural appearance.
As with any surgical procedures, there is the risk of complications from breast reduction. The major complication is that of having any surgical procedure, such as excessive bleeding, infection, or reaction to anesthesia.
Breast Reduction Complications
After breast reduction surgery, patients will feel general discomfort which can be controlled with medication. There may be some swelling or bruising around the breast area, but this will generally only last for several weeks. After the stitches are removed, which is generally done after seven days, there could be folds around the incisions, but they should also disappear after a couple of weeks. It is common for patients to be able to return to work after only one week; some actually return to work after a few days.
Recovery after breast reconstruction surgery will depend on the patient and the extent of the surgery. Some people will have a short recovery time, and others who needed to have a lot of breast tissue removed may find that it can take up to a year or longer to fully recover. The time it takes to heal requires patience, and adherence to directions immediately following the procedure. Remember, the breasts scars have to soften and fade away, and the breasts also have to soften and remold themselves. Gravity will play a role in the tissue relaxing and the new skin tightening.
Breast reduction patients will wear a support bra for two to three months after surgery. This will help maintain the contour of the breasts and speed healing.
There are further complications that can occur, though they are very rare.
•Loss of Sensation – some sensation is lost in the weeks after surgery, but there are times when nerves have been damaged and feeling and sensations around the nipple or breast area is never regained.
•Infection – when the tissue is exposed during the surgical procedure infection can set in. Infection can also occur at the surgical site. While antibiotics are administered intravenously during surgery, infection can occur in accumulated blood which can cause severe side effects, including toxic shock syndrome. Antibiotics are also taken after surgery to prevent the risk of further infection.
•Scarring – incisions are involved in breast reduction surgery, and some women may experience more extreme scarring than others. Women who develop keloids will have a higher chance of scarring than those who do not. Past history of scarring will determine the severity of scarring after surgery.
•Delays in healing – again, a history of slow or problematic healing could be a factor in healing after breast reduction surgery. Women who have an issue of adequate blood supply to the breast tissue may find that some skin or nipple tissue could die. This could be due to smoking or previous radiation to the area. Should this happen, skin grafts can help with the appearance of the breasts.
•Fat Necrosis – when fatty tissue dies after the surgery, hard material that can feel like lumps develop in the breast. They can be removed if the patient desires, and they will not interfere with mammograms.
Reducing Risk of Complications
Finding a good plastic surgeon and discussing the risk of complications is the first step in minimizing any risk factors. Different and newer methods of breast reduction surgery, such as liposuction, may be an option as it could be less invasive and anesthetics are rarely needed. Communicating with the doctor about potential risk factors such as smoking is suggested.
As previously stated, complications after breast reduction surgery are rare, but can happen. Most people find that after the healing process they are much happier with the resulting body image, as a more natural look is achieved.