Breast reduction complications

Breast reduction complications

11th Oct 2016

Breast reduction is a major plastic surgery procedure, which is why it is a decision not to take lightly. The patient must personally do a risk-benefit analysis before getting under the knife. You should thoroughly analyze the benefits of breast reduction and weigh it against the potential complications involved. If you feel that the benefits outweigh any of the potential complications, then by all means, you are mentally prepared for the surgery.


During the initial consultation, the plastic surgeon will sit down with you and go through the complications that may occur during and after the breast reduction procedure. You will then be required to sign a consent form claiming that you completely understand the risks and complications of the surgery and take responsibility for them.



There is a host of complications associated with breast reduction surgery. Some of these complications are general, meaning that they are common in any surgery, while there are other complications that are specific to the breast reduction procedure.


General Complications

Because it is a major surgery, the patients will be under general anesthesia, which can be riskier than the local anesthetic. It is possible for your body to react adversely to the anesthesia, but quite rare nowadays.


Aside from that, your body may also react negatively to the medicines given to you during and after the surgery. This can trigger further complications, such as breathing problems, anxiety, high blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. With that said, this can be avoided by informing your surgeon on any allergies you may have as well as the current medication you are taking that may be bad for the procedure.


Loss of Sensation

Some patients may experience changes in the sensation of their breasts, and others lose all it altogether. Fortunately, this is often temporary, which means that you will regain the lost/changed sensation as your body heals. The change in sensation normally occurs as a result of the trauma your nerve edges experience during the surgery. Your body will gradually heal and your breasts will feel more normal over the next few months. However, there is still a risk of permanent sensation loss, especially in the nipple.


Irregular Scarring

Even though all surgeries leave behind scars, breast reduction procedures are different because there is a risk of irregular scarring to occur. The risk of irregular scarring is higher for patients who have a history of abnormal collagen production, and for those who smoke. If you have the tendency to get abnormal scars, your surgeon may recommend you to apply Steri-Strips after the surgery.


Wound Split

If you are not cautious after the surgery, it is possible for the wound to open. This can be dangerous if the surgical area is unhygienic because it will cause infection. This is why you must immediately inform your surgeon if this happens so that they can help you. Usually, the surgeon will just apply wet dressings to keep the wound ends humid, which will catalyze collagen production. However, for extreme cases where the wound split is severe, you may need to undergo a revision surgery. It is rare, but it all depends on the extent and severity of the wound separation.


Breast Irregularity

When you reshape any aspect of your body, it is possible for irregularities to form. Even though your surgeon may try their best to deliver you symmetrical breasts, the risk of having different breast volume, height, and size is always there. Furthermore, it is important to understand that each patient’s body heals in different ways, which means the breast shape may change over time. Generally though, if your plastic surgeon is board-certified and experienced, these risks are mitigated.


Dark Spots

After the surgery, you may develop temporary hyperpigmentation or dark spots. This condition occurs as a result of the bruising after the surgery. While this complication should recede after a few weeks, there are those who suffer from permanent hyperpigmentation. If the dark spots do not disappear after months, you have the option of getting rid of them via laser treatments.


Excessive Bleeding

Excessive bleeding is a rare, but dangerous complication that may occur during or even the after breast reduction procedure. This may happen as a result of damage to the blood vessels or muscle during the surgery. The risk of this complication is higher in patients who suffer from health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. On the other hand, there are also medications that may cause you to excessively bleed during the operation. This usually applies to blood-thinning medicines such as Aspirin. In a few cases, blood transfusion even becomes necessary to prevent any life-threatening conditions. Therefore, you must disclose all the medication you take with your doctor to prevent this complication from happening.


Seroma and Hematoma

Seroma is a collection of discharged fluids from your body that form under your skin surface. These fluids form a pocket at the surgical site, which triggers pain, inflammation, and excessive scarring. As luck would have it, this is an avoidable condition. Your surgical team will simply place drainage tubes in and around the surgical area prevent fluid buildup.


As for hematoma, this is an abnormal accumulation of blood outside the blood vessel. This can occur at the surgical area, which may cause severe pain, infection, and excessive scarring. If the condition is severe, an additional surgery may be required to relieve the patient.



Necrosis is a complication that may occur after the surgery. This is a form of cell injury, wherein the fat and tissues at the surgical area may die as a result of lack of blood supply. The necrotic tissue has the tendency to spread to other parts of your body, which will be detrimental to your health. This is because necrosis makes your surgical wound susceptible to potential infections. Therefore, you must immediately contact your surgeon when you notice that your skin is turning orange-ish. A complication such as this may require an additional procedure to remove the necrotic tissue.


Other complications

  1. Infection of the surgical wound
  2. Pulmonary emboli
  3. Breastfeeding problems
  4. Fat embolism
  5. Blood clot formation



Looking at all these complications may discourage you to do a breast reduction, but these usually occur in rare cases. What is important is for the patients to be aware of these risks and understand its implications to ensure that they make a safe decision. Remember, breast reduction is an elective procedure, so just be sensible. Your health is more important, so take proper precautions before choosing your surgeon and going through with the surgery.


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