Breast Reconstruction Risks


If you are considering having breast reconstruction, you should make yourself aware of the potential risks and complications associated with these procedures.  Breast reconstruction carries unique risks, which will vary widely depending on whether your reconstruction utilizes implants or flaps.  Fortunately, Dr. Davidson can apprise you of the risks of your individual procedure during your consultation.
During your consultation, your medical history will be reviewed to determine the best course of action for your breast reconstruction.  You should make Dr. Davidson aware of any medications you are taking, as well as your alcohol and tobacco use.  The more information he has, the better he can prepare for your surgery and help minimize your risks.

Like many surgeries, breast reconstruction carries risks for bleeding and infection.  Blood clots in the legs that can travel to the lungs are also a possible complication.  Because the procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia, there is also the risk for adverse reactions to the anesthesia.  These can include heart attack or stroke during the procedure.  These risks are commonly associated with most surgeries, especially those that require the use of general anesthesia.

You should refrain from taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory medicines, and certain supplements that can cause blood thinning.  This can help reduce your chances of bleeding during surgery.  You will also be asked to refrain from alcohol and tobacco use for several weeks (several months in the case of tobacco) prior to your procedure.  Antibiotics will also be administered prior to surgery in order to decrease the risk of infection.

There are also several risks that are unique to each particular type of surgery.  If you are having breast reconstruction using breast implants, the risks can be similar to breast augmentation.  These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Implant Rupture
  • Extrusion
  • Capsular Contracture
  • 10-year lifespan of implants
  • Asymmetry
  • Visible rippling or wrinkling of the implant

These conditions have to do with the implants themselves.  Breast implants always run the risk of rupturing.  Fortunately, both saline and silicone are harmless.  If your implant happens to rupture, the body will absorb the saline.  Extrusion occurs when the implant protrudes through the skin.  Capsular contracture is a rare condition where the scar tissue around the implant begins to harden, shrink, and/or become uncomfortable.  If you experience any of these complications, a follow-up surgery will usually be required to correct the issue.  Implants can be replaced and, in the case of capsular contracture, excess scar tissue can be removed.

Flap procedures use your body's own natural tissue to create your new breasts.  These procedures can run the risk of chronic wounds on the chest wall, skin loss, seroma, flap failure, hernia, or abdominal muscle weakness. This is an extremely delicate procedure that must be performed by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Davidson to ensure excellent results and minimize potential complications.

As with other breast procedures, there is also the risk for visible scars and loss of sensation in the breasts.  When the breasts begin to heal, repeat procedures may be necessary to correct issues like asymmetry.  Following Dr. Davidson's instructions before and after surgery can help minimize your risks and increase your chances for a successful, complication-free surgery.