Many studies have shown a link between obesity and breast reconstruction complications, especially after tissue expander-implant reconstructions. Most of these studies, however, focus on patients with much higher weights.
A recent study published by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago shows that being even slightly overweight can be associated with greater risk for complications. The abstract for this well-designed study can be read here.
This study showed that for each unit increase in body mass index (BMI), there was an associated increase in the likelihood of having any one of several complications, including fluid collections (seromas), necrosis of the mastectomy skin, removal of the tissue expander, and overall failure of the reconstruction.
The findings from this study highlight how important it is to understand the potential complications that can occur with any reconstructive process and how the likelihood of such complications may vary according to several factors. As we’ve outlined in previous blogs, there is no simple algorithm which can determine which type of breast reconstruction is the best fit for each patient. With several options now available for reconstruction, and so many resources to obtain information on the topic, it can be difficult to arrive at a final decision. We recommend consulting with a Plastic Surgeon who offers all types of breast reconstruction when considering your options.